How to run a marathon (in Under 3 1/2 hours...!)

Ben Hitchcock works for FRANK Friends, Bart Ingredients. This Bristol institution has been importing herbs and spices from around the world for more than 50 years. In April this year, Ben takes on a new challenge - to run the London Marathon for FRANK Water! In his blog below, Ben describes the highs, lows, do's and dont's of training for a marathon. Read on...

I am a runner already and in fact, I’ve run the London Marathon before, 15 years ago  but every time the event comes around in April I watch in absolute amazement at all the runners, the fun they appear to be having, the support that everyone of them receives along every inch of the 26 miles and, of course, their huge achievement.

So I decided I’d like to have another go - join the thousands that tread the pavements of London and compete with the world’s elite at the same time - there aren’t many sports events that you can boast that fact!

I do also have a personal agenda - that is to beat my time of fifteen years ago, 3 hours, 31 minutes, this is where I may have bitten off more than I can chew!

So I begin to train, following a 16 week marathon programme and within a week I realised just why I had chosen not run a marathon since 2002!

It is the amount of miles you have to rack up, relentless and the timing of the marathon means that the long winter runs are done in the cold or the wind or the rain and very often all three.

My whole body, especially the legs, feel sore and tired all the time, I thought that as I became fitter, all the aches would subside and then I’d adopt that effortless running style of Mo Farah.

Ben sets out on yet another training run... 

Ben sets out on yet another training run... 

I am a member of a running club The Dorset Doddlers, and I’d say without their company on the long runs I am not sure how I could have got through the mileage required to get to the starting line with half a chance of completing the race. They are supportive, encouraging and their witty banter is always welcome when you are 10 miles into a 20 mile run 7am on a Sunday morning and it is pouring with rain.

I am up to 22 miles for the long runs and I average around 35 miles a week.

I have not had any injuries (touch wood) that have impacted my training but I am learning at age 53 that I need to nurse my body through this adventure so I stretch for England and cross train, cycling, spinning and swimming to give my legs some rest, though they may argue differently.

I have not thought about or changed my diet so far but I am aware that I will need to focus on this leading up to the last few weeks before the race, though I have rediscovered my love for sweet tea.

I am also aware how quickly the race is creeping up, only 7 weeks to go but I have to say that I am really looking forward to the day. I have always loved running races and this one is special. The atmosphere and support is a heady mix which I shall enjoy and hopefully employ to my advantage and run to my best in the knowledge that my wife and children, family and friends will be cheering me on along the way.

I am really privileged to be running on behalf of FRANK Water. I became aware of the charity through Bart who support FRANK Water and was proud to be offered a place in the race. I used to work in tea and spent much time in India sourcing teas so it felt appropriate to be involved with a charity where I felt I could help give a little back to a country I have been involved with and loved for over 30 years.

I have set up a Justgiving page and now focusing on the other hard task of raising funds, leaving no stone unturned. 

You can support me here and help provide life-changing safe water and sanitation to people living without.