What they don’t tell you about training for the London Marathon

It started with a mischievous suggestion from a friend. Justin Brand and his wife, Jo Allen (of Frogmore), were planning for Jo’s 50th birthday with friends when one of them suggested that to mark the occasion, she could aim to take on the London Marathon. ‘You git,’ Justin remembers thinking, knowing that Jo never backs away from a challenge and he’d be dragged into training as well.


However, at LandAid we’re thankful for the suggestion – not only is Justin now committed to taking on the London Marathon with his wife, he’s chosen to run it to raise £10,000 for LandAid! Here, he shares some of the unexpected things he’s learnt along the way:


You don’t need to have been running all your life. I’m not your typical runner – before I started training for the marathon, the furthest I had run was 5K. Now I’m aiming for 42K! When I told my boss about my plan, his response was ‘well I guess I’d better start looking for your replacement – just in case you don’t make it’.


Your body starts to talk to you. When I started training, I was running around Battersea Park when the sole of my right foot started to ache and complain. Five minutes later, my left knee joined in the protest. Your body is clearly asking, what the hell is going on?’ But you can’t always listen to it. I’m glad I didn’t because now I’m addicted to running – well at least until April! And it’s interesting how your mind takes over. Now, no matter how far I run, the pain doesn’t kick in until the last half-mile.


You can develop some interesting eating habits. I don’t know why, but it’s always on the 11th mile that the hunger hits me and I have to fight off becoming hangry’. Those isotonic gels they recommend are disgusting! I’ve started relying on Haribo instead – basically, this marathon is just a convenient excuse to eat sweets. It even works when I’m not running. I’ll be at my desk, popping Tangfastics into my mouth, and when someone asks what I’m doing, I can say marathon training’.


Everyone always has advice. Some of it is helpful – like not starting your training too early or you’ll peak too soon. Some of it is well-intentioned – like the friend who recommended eating mints on the run (I’m sticking to Haribo). Some of it is just a bit scary – like the story I was told about the man who set off too quickly and by the twentieth mile had virtually collapsed. I bought Jo a running watch for Christmas so she could monitor her pace. I just need to keep up with her!


You find inspiration in strange places. The music I play for inspiration when running solo is not what I expected. In the gym, all you hear is electronic beats but you can’t run long distances listening to that. I’ve started getting into Country Music, and now jog along to the gentle rhythms of Dolly Parton’s greatest hits. It works wonders!


Justin Brand and his wife Jo Allen are training hard for the London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April. Want to give Justin a hand in reaching his £10,000 target for LandAid? Make a donation today.