Are you running the Barns Green Half Marathon? Why not?

2013 Race Start (3)Member James Sanderson isn’t an Olympic athlete, nor a Commonwealth champ, but he has just signed up for his first half marathon. Here he gives us some inspiration to get up and start planning for that first long run, talking us through his preparation for this year’s Barns Green Half Marathon…

Have you always been a keen runner?

I have always been active but not really into running; rather taking part in any social sports like football, tennis, squash, etc. Recently though I have been trying to fit exercise in around family time rather than set times each week and therefore running fits nicely.

What made you sign up for the Barns Green Half marathon?

I decided I wanted to run a full marathon this year. I have tried to get into the London marathon through the ballot several times but I have never been successful, which is lucky as I never really trained! However, I decided this year I will run one. I am currently planning to run the Eindhoven marathon, which is in the Netherlands, as the company I work for (Philips) is closely linked there. Therefore, the Barns Green Half is a great step towards it and I will then know whether trying to run a full marathon is a stupid idea – I mean for me!

Being new to half marathons what does your training programme look like?

I have been searching lots of internet sites for schedules and I am really surprised at how much training I am “meant” to be doing! I am generally OK getting out twice a week but most suggest getting out at least three times and doing longer distances that I am currently doing. That said, I think the schedules are based around trying to hit certain times, whereas I just want to finish!

What’s your biggest motivator?

When I watch things like the London marathon all sorts of people are completing it and I think if they can, I can. I saw a post of an old friend on Facebook saying he completed the London marathon in 2hrs 54mins. That’s an incredible time, but actually that doesn’t motivate me as I know I won’t do it that fast. But, another friend did it in just under 5hrs (and he raised £3k for Charity) and that does motivate me as it makes it achievable (I think!).

How do you mentally prepare for running long distance?

I try not to think about the distance too much, just start running and see how I go. If I have to stop and walk I do, but before stopping I try to convince myself I can make it to that next tree, or the next road junction. Before I know it I have covered much more ground than I thought I could or more than if I had just stopped straight away.

What do you think about whilst you run? Is there any specific music you listen to?

“Running” tracks in general but I do skip through a few so I have to hold my phone! I have actually started listening to pod casts of comedy talk shows as when I concentrate on listening to the talk show it takes my mind off running. That said it can be difficult to laugh and run at the same time!

Will you be signing up for another one?

I hope so. I have been running more regularly for the last year or so and I am really enjoying it. I am still some way off race distance so I need to step my training up. I can (comfortably?) do 10k now, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of before… it seemed like slow progress at the time but it is very rewarding now!

Can you give your top three tips to someone running their first marathon?

I don’t know if I should as I haven’t run one yet! But:

1) Get a GPS tracker on your phone if you have one. I use MapMyRun which was free, there are lots of others. It makes such a difference knowing the distance accurately!
2) Invest in good trainers to avoid injuries. I haven’t bought any new running kit in a year, apart from trainers (oh, and socks!).
3) Don’t push yourself too hard.

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