‘Vivi Stories’ is a series of inspiring tales, thoughts, tips and tricks from real people. From running marathons to cycling 500 miles across Europe, find out what drives people to get fit and what experiences have been the best. This time, we ask James Randall about his marathon experiences, training tips, and why he enjoys running.
Vivi: Hi James, thanks for taking part in our Vivi Stories feature. To start, tell us how and why you got into running?
James: I had to give up football at 22 because of persistent knee problems, and after a few years, it was sufficiently strong again to feel ok. I’m the sort of person who needs a challenge to do anything so in 2007 I applied through work to run the 2008 London Marathon for Help The Hospices. So I went from having never run so much as an official 10k to running a marathon, and I was hooked.
Vivi: Any running tips for those just starting out?
James: Set yourself achievable targets when you start off to gain confidence. Whilst you can follow as many guides / official training plans as you like, listen to your own body. At least one run a week, don’t time yourself – run to how you feel, not a slave to the watch. Everybody is a runner, whatever size or shape you are. And most importantly, try and enjoy it.
Vivi: What’s the hardest running event you’ve completed?
James: So far it’s probably my 3rd marathon when I aimed to beat my Dad’s PB of 3:42. I cramped up three times in the last 6 miles but made it in a time of 3:40:15. I’m currently training for The Wall Ultra, 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle – so I expect that to be somewhat harder.
Vivi: How was it training for your third marathon? What did you do?
James: Unlike my previous two marathons, I started training much earlier and gave myself a better fitness base before attempting the long mileage runs. I did 5 training runs of 20 miles or more, but also did a lot of short, quick runs in the week to try and balance improving my pace and increasing my stamina. As per my answer to question 2, I also listened to my body as I was more confident in my own training – so if I had a little niggle, I didn’t run just for the sake of it.
Vivi: How would you describe your fitness level?
James: If I’m training for something, quite good. If I’m not, then quite bad. I’m like Ricky Hatton used to be, but once I put my mind to running and have a target in my head I find it quite easy to pick it back up.
Vivi: Having clocked a lot of running miles, in your words, what is the best thing about running? Additionally, what has been your best running experience?
James: The best thing about running is that you literally just need some trainers, some clothes and some road / grass / mud / track. You can do it anywhere at any time, and it’s incredibly rewarding. It also gives you a lot of time to think and the sense of achievement is fantastic, whether you’re a couch-to-5k runner or a seasoned marathon runner. London is always special, but my best running experience was probably last year’s Ramathon (the Derby half). I finished in 1:35:33, a new PB, six weeks after the London marathon and I felt strong all the way around. The event finishes at Pride Park which, as a Derby fan, is also special to me.
Vivi: Finally, what motivates you?
James: Fear of failure. Once I’ve told people I’m doing an event (and asked them to sponsor me), then I want to give it my best shot. So getting out of bed at 7am on a freezing, wet Sunday morning can only be achieved if I’m scared of not doing what I’ve said I’m going to do…
Keep posted for more from James as he shares his Ultra running training video diary with us.
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