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Veterans and Newbies on How to Run Marathons

As an active person and a dabbler in running myself, I wanted to ask future marathon runners on what made them decide to train for a marathon whilst studying for a degree. Talking to Matt, a 4th-year student, and Jess who is in her last year at Newcastle gave me insight into so many questions I had about training for a marathon. Both students have entered the Great North Run (GNR), a half marathon taking place in September and whilst Jess is a regular runner, Matt isn’t.

Question 1: What motivated you to enter the half marathon?

Matt: As a non-regular runner, but an active rackets player the GNR is something I have always wanted to do, and I thought 13.1 miles would be the best place to start. I think it’s a big challenge for anyone to set themselves as well a good opportunity to raise money for charities. I think it’s all about pushing yourself.

Jess: Like Matt said- to challenge myself and raise money for a charity like Cancer Research UK, which is the charity I have chosen to represent.

Question 2: Why the GNR and not a different running event?

Matt: I’m from Newcastle and have been down to the finish line a few times supporting my friends, it such a good thing for Newcastle and I thought I would start on home ground.

Jess: I wanted to walk before I ran. Yes, I’m a runner but that doesn’t mean I can run a marathon and so the GNR was good being only 13.1 miles. I’m in my final year studying here in Newcastle and I thought it would be the perfect way to end my time here.

Question 3: Have you got a training plan that you have been sticking to?

Matt: Erm… To be honest- not yet. I’m currently working out my technique and breathing. I think once I’ve mastered that I will be well on the way to upping the mileage. At the moment I just run when I can and for as long as I can, I’m not counting anything just yet. Once it comes to 8-10 weeks before the event I will be sticking to a training programme because so far, I can’t get further than 5 miles!

Jess: I’ve been running for 3 years now and normally go for a run in the morning 4-5 times a week and for 8 miles a time. Recently though I have started to push myself for more miles as well as changing the routes I run. I’m used to running on the treadmill or on flat ground, so I’ve started routes with hills which is typical for the GNR. If it gets muddy or rains on the day, there is nothing to do but get on with it.

Question 4: What are your expectations for the day?

Matt: I’m looking forward to the atmosphere on the day which I think will give me a huge amount of motivation and support to keep going. It’s a bit more of a challenge for me than Jess I think, as she runs regularly so having the perfect playlist to listen to and keep me motivated will be key. Good bass, power and ‘feel good’ songs should keep me going.

Jess: Everyone is in the same boat aren’t they? The challenge is no more or less for anyone because we’re all doing the same distance. This will be something which everyone will get behind I think, in a kind of ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude which will be seen on the day.

Question 5: Do you have any advice for students who are thinking of entering a marathon? Matt for the non-runners and Jess for the regulars?

Matt: Have a strong goal and stick to it. The reason why you are doing the marathon or the charity you have chosen should be something you can look back to motivate you when you don’t want to do training or go out into the rain. I think the biggest thing would be to not do it because everyone else is, but to enter a marathon for yourself. It’s a great way to switch off and get the stress of uni work off your mind.

Jess: Make sure you have time to train. If you aren’t going to be available to practice for the marathon then it more than likely won’t go well. Also, make sure that you have the fitness and stamina to complete the run. I personally don’t think that running a couple miles now and again is enough preparation for such a challenge. Finally, I look at it that I’m running for a charity with such a good cause behind it but I’m also doing it for myself. I think everyone should think this.


Charlotte is an aspiring journalist currently at Newcastle University. She loves to write about all aspects of life particularly in the lifestyle and sport section of 'The Courier' newspaper. She is a lover of sport but with a avid interest in fashion too.
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