Hereford Couriers Marathon runners receive top tips from endurance legend, Jo Pavey

This weekend sees the April return of the 43rd instalment of the TCS London Marathon with around 50,000 runners and walkers expected to pass through the start line.

Each year as a registered athlete in affiliated England Athletics club, you can gain spots in this prestigious race through affiliating. We recently had the pleasure of meeting two athletes from Hereford Couriers who have just done that, introducing Kate Morris and Clare Mallender!

After countless hours of training and preparation, the marathon can still seem a little daunting, so to help settle the ladies’ nerves, we invited five-time Olympian and 2:28:24 marathon runner Jo Pavey (pictured on her way to winning the Night of the 10,000m PBs in 2014) to provide some top tips and insight into tackling the big race.

Jo Pavey at Night of 10,000 PBs

Getting into running

Having run for 25 years, in 2017 Clare finally took the plunge and joined local club Hereford Couriers after starting to fall out of love with running alone.

"I joined the Couriers and it really reignited my love for running and enabled me to meet like-minded people. I have more direction and variety in my training and I’m able to cover a lot more miles."

Like teammate Clare, Kate had been running alone for the last ten years before joining the club four years ago motivated by her dad.

"Going to watch my dad I always enjoyed being a spectator but I just want to get involved and make him proud. He joined Hereford Couriers 40 years ago and I feel proud to follow in his footsteps."

Securing their marathon spot and starting their journey

With over 300 members at Hereford Couriers, the committee held a ballot of those who were unsuccessful in their initial London applications to see who would be representing the club in April, after a random draw, Clare and Kate were lucky enough to get the call.

"I was in disbelief,"

said Clare. "I remember driving home after finding out and it felt like a dream. I’ve done a few half marathons, but it was such a big step. A member at the club wrote up a plan and we could see how we would make it step by step. Now we have completed all the training, done a couple of races and weekly long training runs and the marathon now feels possible and very exciting."

"We just feel so privileged,"

added Kate. "There are so many deserving people at the club, and we just want to make everyone proud on the day, that is the main thing."

Balancing advice and staying focussed

Having the support of people around you whether from fellow club members, friends or family is fantastic, however as Kate suggests it’s important to stay focused on your own race.

"You need to remember to stick to your plan as everybody’s race is completely different and they may have different goals. It may be just to finish, just to enjoy it or it may be for a certain time. Personally, I want to go out and enjoy it, not set off too fast and try and beat my time from Manchester in 2016 (3:54)."

Training together has really helped Clare and Kate to stay accountable with their training, as well as helping with motivation when training throughout the winter months. "We have done a lot of our training together especially the long runs with other members of the club," explained Clare.

"We have Sunday social runs and they’re great with other members training for Manchester and Newport Marathons as well as others with charity places for London. It’s created a really nice weekend social and it helps the miles to go by much quicker when you are running together."

Strategies and planning for the marathon

As we edge closer to the 23rd April, those taking part in the London Marathon will be finalising their strategies for the big day.

Speaking from her vast experience, Jo Pavey explained the importance of pacing and being strict with yourself during the race which is something Clare and Kate are ready to take on this weekend.

"We have been saying to each other, it should not be hard to slow down but it is! You feel fresh, you have adrenaline and excitement. You speak to non-runners and say 'I need to just slow down' and they find it crazy but it really is hard in the moment."

As well as getting from A to B a big 26.2 miles away, the marathon is a juggle between running the distance and keeping your body fuelled.

"We have practiced our fuelling strategies a lot" said Kate, "we have been wearing a running belt, Clare always wears two which makes me laugh! The London Marathon starts a little later than we have been doing our long training runs and we will be running through lunchtime so that is something I am going to need to change slightly."

"Fuelling has been really important to me as I have learned in training that I can’t just take a gel because I get a real spike and then a crash,"

explained Clare. "I squeeze the gel into a bottle and sip it all the way around and then that keeps me at a good level. I have tried eating when running and I could not get on with that either, so we’re prepared."

Looking ahead to the big day!

After months and months of build-up, wondering, and excitement, the big day is within reach and both Clare and Kate can’t wait!

"It is all we are thinking about at the moment," Clare explained "we are always messaging each other and dreaming of the race.

"I keep talking to my family about the marathon and Kate says I think my family want to evict me!  It is always totally on your mind. We can’t just go and practice it.

"It is such a massive undertaking" added Kate, "you can’t go into it light-hearted you need to respect it and respect the distance."


How to watch the TCS London Marathon

You can watch the TCS London Marathon live this Sunday 23 April on BBC One from 8:30am.

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