10 Marathons, 10 Countries
Well, it's probably no surprise to anyone that this post about marathons isn't about me. I've lugged my ass around a few half marathons in my time, cried my eyes out during or after each and every one, and now I usually call it a day after 5km! As a result, I'm delighted and amazingly proud to be talking to Jess Standley and Jo Vizard about their epic marathon challenge.
I've known Jess and Jo since the first day of secondary school and we're thick as thieves. I think it's fair to say that these two are massive over-achievers in everything they do (cheers for making the rest of us look bad, you two, jeez). They have busy careers, impressive social lives and generally have the busiest calendars known to man. So, when Jess first announced she was going to run ten marathons in ten countries for charity, we were all pretty gobsmacked. How would she fit in the training? Would she ever come and drink prosecco with us ever again?! How would we survive without her on nights out while she trained? Our fears about the latter were doubled when Jo, who absolutely abhors running, decided she would join Jess at the Barcelona marathon to give her some company. Quite honestly, the rest of our rat pack couldn't believe their ears but I'm happy to report that the prosecco-drinking was only very temporarily put in hold (thank god).
So if you're new to running, considering a marathon or just fancy a read with my funny two pals, here's a quick Q&A with them. Please do comment below if you have questions or you can follow them on Instagram @10marathons10countries.
Jess - you're running 10 marathons in 10 countries. That's literally insane. Why?
Jess: That is a question I keep asking myself! I think it’s fair to say I like to challenge myself and having completed New York Marathon in 2015 my goal jumped to running 10 marathons in 10 countries. I'm raising money for charities I know through my work as a personal injury lawyer and the knowledge that I am fundraising for them really does keep me running - especially on the days I am struggling to find motivation. I just hope I can meet my target of £10K!
Jo - you're the mug that decided to join her for one, your first. Why?
Jo: First and only…! I have no idea why... I would say it sounded like a good idea at the time but I think that would be a lie. When Jess told us she was going to run 10 marathons I made an off the cuff comment about maybe doing one with her but in all honesty, I never thought I would actually do it, but hey, here I am.
A lot of dieters like me have turned to running to get their fitness up and shed some pounds. What's your advice for people who've never run a step in their life?
Jo: Before I started training for the marathon I had run a grand total of 10k in the British 10k in London nearly 10 years ago. I did no training and ended up losing two toenails and being unable to walk for a week (I wouldn’t recommend it!) My advice would be to start small, get your shoes fitted by a professional.
What charities are you raising money for and why?
Jess: I am raising money for Wheelpower and NAPAC. The work both charities do is invaluable. Wheelpower help those affected by paralysis to play sport and lead active lives and NAPAC supports survivors of abuse. Jo is supporting me in raising money for these charities too which is amazing.
How do you even start to prepare for a marathon?
Jo: I downloaded the Nike Running App, it has been my absolute lifeline. I started training 6 months ago running no more than 10 minutes and feeling like I was going to die, but slowly (and I mean slowly!) it got easier.
Jess: Deciding to run a marathon can be daunting at first. One of my top tips is to stretch! I have found adding a yoga session into my routine has made a real difference. You should also invest in a foam roller – it hurts but it works, and don't forget about your rest days, it's so important to give your legs a break.
Has running helped tone you up over the years/helped you lose weight?
Jo: I haven't lost weight, but I have got slimmer and toned up, most noticeably in my legs.
Jess: Definitely. Exercise is a big part of my life generally but running in particular has really increased my fitness and given me pretty strong legs! Running is not only great for physical health but I also find it great for my mind; it really helps clear my mind after a long or difficult day.
What's your most treasured piece of running equipment?
Jo: My headphones, there is absolutely no way I could have lasted all the miles without them.
Jess: Other than my trainers, I also love my flipbelt which is great for carrying everything. Oh, and currently I love my milestone pod which is a great tracker….do I really have to pick just one piece of equipment!?
How did you find the marathon?
Jess: All marathons are tough – people often ask me if it gets easier and I can honestly say no! I really enjoyed running with a friend and would definitely recommend it as it is much less of a lonely experience. I also found it very interesting to see someone else go through the mental challenges of a marathon – and it reinforced to me how much of mental challenge it really is (not because I had to put up with Jo - thankfully there were no arguments – although I was told that Jo needed “quiet time” on occasion!). All in all marathon number 6 was a great experience, well organised course and Barcelona is a fantastic city – we certainly enjoyed the tapas and sangria at the finish!
Jess is off to Vienna for her seventh marathon and she's aiming for a personal best. If you'd like to support NAPAC and Wheelpower you can find the sponsorship page here.