Sam’s Marathon Journey with New Balance

My marathon journey  

I said I would only ever run one marathon in my life time, and only if it was London Marathon. With thanks to New Balance, I am completing my third marathon and running London for a second time! 

How my running journey started… 

I only started running about 5 years ago, back then I couldn’t get from one lamppost to the next, and I certainly didn’t call myself a “runner”. It took me nearly 2 years to call myself a runner and to actually enjoy running. So if you are only just starting out in your running journey, hang on in there as it can take time. 

Discovering parkrun changed my life, the first one I did took me 33:07. I was walk/jogging 5k once a week every week. I soon started running outside of parkrun as I wanted to improve my time. I didn’t realise but this was also improving me as a person – I was fitter, healthier, happy with my body (for the first time in my life) and it gave me space in my mind. I joined the team at Cheadle Hulme parkrun as it launched and soon became co-Event Director, a year later I became an Event Support Ambassador and 6 months ago I became the Regional Ambassador for the North West, Greater Manchester. All voluntary roles that I fit around my work and life. 

I joined a running club and started training regularly, I was also entering 10k races which soon became the norm, I then stepped it up to half marathons and I was happy with that as a maximum distance for my capability. I was getting faster and stronger, I was PB’ing at my distances and getting better and better. Everyone around me was telling me I would be bitten by the marathon bug one day, they weren’t wrong there! 

My running club Bramhall Runners pulled me out of our club ballot for a London Marathon 2018 place. I started training straight away and had an amazing 5 months of preparation, for something I thought wouldn’t be possible for me. I happened to run the hottest London Marathon on record in 2018, oh my it was difficult! I didn’t get the sub 4 hours that I was hoping for, but I did do less (only just) than the 4 hours 30 which was my target. I finished my first ever marathon in 4:29:11 – although I don’t remember an awful lot about that race as I was completely out of it from around 12 miles due to the heat. I didn’t even see the Palace as I approached the finish.

I desperately wanted a sub 4 hour marathon so I entered Chester for the October of 2018. Unfortunately for me the heat wave at London stayed for the summer, and I found it difficult to get back into training. In fact, I couldn’t train. Luckily a few weeks before Chester a friend of mine asked if I wanted to run with him as he hadn’t done any training for Chicago marathon, which was on the same day as my Chester marathon – so for the first time I had a marathon training partner. I had 3 weeks of training with only 3 long runs, my body kicked into action straight away with muscle memory and I still had the miles in my legs from 5 solid months of training for London. Chester was a normal day, I felt so relaxed as I knew I had not put the training in this time to get me that sub 4, so I just wanted to get round. I breezed into the finish in 3:54:17, I couldn’t believe I had such a relaxed race and had got my sub 4 on the little amount of training I had. 

The next week I had my London Marathon 2019 ballot results… rejection. I was happy with that, I’d just keep entering and I’m sure one day I would get to go back and have another go, one where I would remember the race. 

I was silly after Chester, I didn’t give the marathon distance the respect it required for my recovery. I turned up at training on the Wednesday following the race (yes I was advised to go home and rest), then I pitched up at parkrun on the Saturday and ran 9 seconds away from my all time 5k PB. At the end of the parkrun I was hurting, for being so stupid I picked up an injury. I self treated and rested, but after finally seeing Trevor at Fulcrum sports injury clinic (over the road from Run North West) he confirmed I had been a silly girl and had caused issues for my piriformis and plantaris muscles. I was lined up to see Trevor and Sally for the next few weeks for physio and sports massage, they gave me a recovery plan and we healed that injury. I was on the mend and starting to run again. 

I am the Operations Manager for Run North West, my job is to organise all of our races and look at the business as a whole – which includes supporting the store manager and his team based at our retail shop in Hyde. 

When the store is busy I help the retail side of the business, which has been really rewarding as I’ve helped so many people choose their running trainers and kit whether they are just starting out or running a marathon. I have met so many people who are doing marathons this spring – good luck guys!! 

One of the many brands we have at Run North West is New Balance, who are one of the official partners on the Virgin London Marathon. New Balance gave our business a London place for one of the team to have, I work in a team of elite runners, so if they wanted a place to London they would get one automatically as an elite or on good for age. I’ve never been so happy to be the slowest runner in the team because it meant that I was the only person that put my hat in the ring for the place – whoop, it was mine! 

Injury healed and the running had re-started so I accepted the place and looked forward to going back to London Marathon, something I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to do again, thank you New Balance. 

My training for this marathon hasn’t gone so well. We moved house in February and I pulled a stomach muscle, which has only recently healed meaning I’ve got 3 weeks of training and then it’s race day. I’m back to that 3 week inverse taper marathon training plan and it’s actually going well. For London this time I just want to get round and take it all in, I want to remember everything and enjoy the race, that’s my goal. If I’m lucky enough to get a third place at London in the years to come, then I’ll try that sub 4 hours agin 😉

New Balance also gifted me a pair of trainers which I will be wearing on the day. I over pronate so I use New Balance 860 and Fresh Foam Vongo. I really like them both, personally I have found the 860’s are lighter and responsive for me, but the Vongo has that lovely soft feeling. The hardest decision of my London 2019 journey has been which pair of trainers to wear on the day as I’ve enjoyed both. 

Well done to everyone who has ran their marathon already, good luck to those that are about to run theirs, I’m about to enjoy every minute of mine!