I thought it was pretty interesting to read Simon's first marathon was run in 3.37.06 and has since dropped his time to 2.38. Perfect example of how discipline and thinking long term pays off. Thanks to Simon for his willingness to share his running history on rundreamachieve.com
Q: Describe how you got started in the sport. Where did you run your first marathon and time. This is important because readers need to understand starting points and where successful runners like yourself are at now.
A: 7 years ago on Christmas Eve (24 December 2004) I quit smoking. At that point I was smoking at least 20 per day, drinking excessively and eating a lot of junk food. I was over-weight and miserable. Soon after I acquired a second hand mountain bike and started cycling too and from work. As I got fitter I needed to find something I could do that took less time than cycling, so I started running. I was hooked pretty quickly and by May 2005 I was confident enough to jog an 8km fun run. In April 2006 I ran my first marathon: a very small race in a village called Halstead in Essex in the UK. My finishing time was 3:37:06. I had chosen the race because I figured it was small enough that if I couldn't finish there would not be too many people to witness my shame. I shed a tear at the end and vowed ‘never again' which lasted until I reached the car park by which time I was already planning my next race.
Q: How many years have you been running?
A: Just under 7 years
Q: How did you get started in the sport and how have you worked your way down to 2.40?
A: I initially got started in running to lose weight, make myself feel better and regain control over my life. However pretty soon I was hooked on the idea of improving my times and it became a game of seeing how far I could push myself: could I crack 3:30? Then how about 3:15. Then 3hrs became the target. And so on. I'm still going with that game!
Q: What is some advice you can give to runners in this country for improving?
A: I think that the best advice I have been given has been the simplest – run as much as you can, eat well, rest and treat injuries promptly. The advice that is helping me now is more about the psychology of running and how to develop mental toughness. I think that this is the advantage that the best running nations in the world have now over the rest of us – they have self belief and mental toughness that means that when it hurts (and running marathons will always hurt) they somehow push through. In the London marathon this year (2011) I reached a point where I felt I couldn't go on and I walked through one water station. I managed to get back up to speed and finished in 2:43 but that was 5 minutes off the finish time I wanted and I felt very disappointed with myself that I allowed myself to give in, even momentarily.
Q: What clubs or teams do you run for in Britain and explain a little about them?
A: I run for a club called the Mornington Chasers, which I joined three or four years ago. It is a really friendly club and I have a lot of great friends.
Q: What is your overall goal time for the marathon?
A: I have a dream goal of dipping under 2:30 but I think that my focus for the next year or so will be to get to 2:35 or below.
Q: What is the most difficult thing about the marathon and why?
A: I think that beyond a certain level of fitness the marathon becomes a psychological battle where will and determination play a huge part. For me the toughest part is having the mental toughness to do all the workouts required in training (and more) and really executing on race day. It can be too easy to find a reason to go easy or take an extra rest day (especially during the cold, grey, wet winter in London!)
Q: Have you ever competed in the United States?
A: I have run the New York marathon three times and loved it every time. The best (though not the fastest) New York marathon I had was my last one in 2009. Six weeks before the race I was knocked off my bike and broke my arm. The break required surgery and so I arrived on the start line three weeks after having a pin put in my arm. My girlfriend (now wife) was running and we decided that we would run together. It was her first marathon and she wanted to debut with a sub-4 hour effort. We ran shoulder to shoulder and crossed the line in 3:59:26, which was a really wonderful and moving experience for me. Boston and Chicago are definitely on my bucket list as is Grandma's marathon which I know Nate has run. t I really have gone from a hopeless, depressed, fat couch potato to finding life through running and getting much closer to being the best I believe I can be at something.