• Helen Phillips

Meet Our Marathoners #4 James

Not everyone can run a marathon. You have to be a special kind of determined and crazy to train and then complete 26.2 miles on the day.

In my Meet Our Marathoners series we meet ordinary people who have battled through and achieved extraordinary.

Today we meet James, who battled his fast food habit to run VLM18. Ever competitive, James aimed for sub4 this year. Go James go!

Tell me about your weight-loss journey?

By July 2016 my weight had spiralled out of control. I was living off fast food from service stations, pringles and chocolate!! My dad passed away from heart disease when I’d just turned 6, I couldn't do the same to my children, something had to happen.

I took the walk of shame and joined my local slimming world group, being quite a competitive person there was no way I'd ever be registering a gain!! Week in week out I was having losses, people stopped bringing goodies for the slimmer of the week basket as my cupboards were full!! I took all of the titles, biggest looser, Mr slinky, man of the year to name a few!!

Slimming world made me realise what my relationship with food was like and managed to forge new habits that have stuck with me even today, some 6 stone lighter!!

How did running help?

I used running to start with just as exercise but as the weight dropped my times were improving and if I'm honest it was becoming highly addictive!!

Tell me about your running journey

I first started running in July 2016, I wanted to do something to boost my weight loss so headed to my local parkrun.

I took on the 5k route and managed to complete it in 42 minutes. I gave it my all and felt physically sick when I crossed the line!! I couldn't get my head around how people could run further and faster!!

As the weeks passed and the weight dropped my times got quicker and I started running at home. In the November I signed up for the Mo run which would be my first 10k run, I managed to scrape a sub 60 and was delighted. Come December I was flying and entered my first half, I had no idea of pacing so just went for it and surprised myself with a 1.45 finish.

A few more half races under my belt and I was approached by a charity to run London …….. that was it ... I was sold!!

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

Because I never believed that it would've ever been something that I'd do! I'd watch in awe every year as the masses took to the streets but never for one minute thought that one day that would be me!!

I went to watch my brother run in 2009, he was always the fit one of the family, me I was the fat one ………. but when I ran I took an hour off his time!!!

Did you run for a charity?

I ran for The Institute of Cancer Research

My fundraising target was £2,000 and I raised just shy of £6,000. I did all sorts of events from cake sales to charity curry nights with auctions. I used my DSLR camera to do pet portraits as well as taking pictures of my lads football team! I also ran in a tutu which raised £400!!

How’s did training go?

Training was really good, but looking back I trained hard and not smart. I had a massive hang up on mileage and pace, my long runs I ran too fast and didn't do enough alternate running.

I love the freedom running gives you, you go where you want when you want, you get to dictate how the run goes, it's also great therapy!!

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

My goal was sub 4, I completed VLM18 in 4:18.

If you could choose who would present your finishers bling who would it be?

Wow that's a tough one, my 3 boys and my dad!!

Do you have any running “superstitions”?

I don't run over 3 way drains!!!

What are you most looking forward to on race day for VLM19?

Soaking up the atmosphere and being better prepared!!

How did you celebrate your marathon running success?

VLM18 was all very civilised ……….. I think 2019 will be very different!!!

If you're already thinking about your marathon next year, you'll be pleased to hear Marathon Club Hub is now open.

Marathon Club Hub is my training & preparation programme for first and next time marathoners to provide you all the advice, information and support you need to get ready to run.

Click HERE to join Marathon Club Hub to get going with your training for next spring.