running my first marathon

Running My First Marathon: “I needed to start building up my fitness after being sick.”

Every now and again, we meet people who really inspire us. They go to show that with the right attitude and commitment, anything can be achieved. Our very own Michelle Fox came across an inspiring tale recently. We liked it so much we thought we’d share it with you. Here’s her Q&A with Rebecca Stubbs (Becks), aptly named ‘Running my first marathon’:

Michelle Fox: When I first met Becks I was shocked to find out that she had suffered and recovered from Meningitis not once, but twice. Shortly before I interviewed her, she was once again recovering from meningitis – this time it was her fourth bout of the vile infection (having suffered once right in front of my eyes and again while at work). I then discovered she had taken up running, cycling and swimming and had entered the Brighton Marathon. She’s a real inspiration, so I decided to interview her to get some more information on what makes her tick and carry on.

Q: A little personal but how old were you when you took part in the Brighton Marathon?

A: 38.

Q: How long have you been running?

A: 3 years.

Q: What inspired you to start running?

A: I needed to get out and start building up my fitness after being sick. My neurologist advised me to start walking so this is what I did but, in the beginning, I couldn’t walk more than 50 feet before having to rest. It was a real challenge but I got there!

Q: Do you have a personal trainer?

A: Yes I do. My coach is a lovely 82-year old man.

Q: What is your training regime for the marathon?

A: I do two speed sessions per week with a max of 5k. On Monday, I rest. Tuesday, I do a speed run. Wednesday, I run 10k. Thursday, I do another speed run. Friday, I rest. Saturday, I do a 5k park run. Lastly, on Sunday I do a much longer run. At the beginning of my training, I worked up to 10k and gradually built up to 20 miles. There are lots of training regimes online but if I’m honest I found a lot of them confusing or too much! I ended up with a bad chest infection before the marathon and I couldn’t run for three weeks!

Q: What inspired you to take part in a Marathon?

A: I completed a ½ Marathon having overcome meningitis twice and, after not being able to walk, I decided it would be a good idea to “Go for It”. I chose to take an “I can do anything” attitude, and before I knew it I was running my first marathon.

Q: And why the Brighton Marathon as opposed to the London Marathon?

A: The Brighton Marathon is far easier to gain entry, and by the time I made the decision to enter it was late December. I thought there was no way I would have been accepted for the London one.

Q: Did you talk to anyone that has taken part in a marathon before you tackled your own and, if so, what advice did they give you?

A: Yes, the biggest advice I received which I now pass on to others is to check your pace to ensure you are not going too fast. Don’t worry about going too slow, just don’t go too fast, too soon.

Q: What about diet? What did you do specifically do for the marathon that you would not usually do?

A: The only changes I made were on the nights before long runs I would eat pasta and chicken. I’d avoid anything that would upset my stomach. I always had the same breakfast before a long run – Toast, Marmalade and Coffee.

Q: Did you have friends and family supporting you throughout your journey?

A: Yes, my husband Steve and daughter, and a couple of friends agreed four places along the way where I knew they would be to cheer me on. Then I had another three friends with their families that were in a further two spots along the way. However, I didn’t know where those people would be so they bought Hello Kitty balloons so I could see them. Having people there for you, egging you on, is a massive advantage.

Q: Did you set yourself a time goal to complete the marathon in?

A: Yes, 5 hours.

Q: And what time did you manage to complete in?

A: 5 hours and 31 minutes.

Q: Are you planning to take part in another marathon?

A: Oh yes, definitely. Even though I swore at the end of the last one I would never do another one, within a week of finishing I had this massive feeling of accomplishment and I changed my mind.

Q: Did you suffer any injuries?

A: No, I was lucky.

Q: You have suffered from meningitis an incredible four times. What motivates you to start training again?

A: I love running on my own. I had the Brighton Marathon booked for this year but unfortunately due to meningitis, I had to postpone until 2018. I have to say that having an event booked is complete motivation for me. It gives me something to aim for. I want to get better so I can train and take part.

Q: Do you belong to any local running clubs?

A: Yes, a triathlon club (Portsmouth Triathletes). I have taken part in the following events: 5k, 5 miles, 10k, Brighton Marathon, Aquathlon (swim and run), Duathlon (run / bike / run), and a Triathlon (swim, bike, run). I find that cross training is a big part of marathon training for me. Our club has a variety of people taking part, ranging from those doing a ‘couch to 5k’, all the way up to marathon distance!

Q: What are your thoughts for the future?

A: I would like to take part in an Ultra Marathon, which means you can run any distance further than 26.2 miles (42km). Portsmouth is holding a 50km Ultra Marathon in December 2017. Will I be ready for this? Who knows…

Q: How would you inspire others to do what you have done?

A: It depends on the reasons that people want to do it: to lose weight, to get fit and healthy, to make friends or just other benefits.

Q: What did you eat / drink during the marathon?

A: Electrolyte drinks (water that you put a tablet in to) and energy gels. I would recommend you do not eat or drink anything on race day that you have not tried and tested in training. I took a cup of energy drink during the run thinking it was water and it actually made me sick!

We hope you all agree that Becks’ story is quite something. Recovering from 4 bouts of meningitis in itself is a great accomplishment, but the long list of running and cycling events she has completed highlights you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. A big thank you to both Becks and Michelle! 

If you know of any inspiring stories you think we should know about, get in touch! We are always on the lookout for motivational tales.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.