Jenni Falconer: Why I Love Long Distance Running

Jenni Falconer posing in gym gear

It’s that time of year again when many of us are in full marathon mode – in fact, a record number of almost 500,000 people applied for a spot in 2019’s race, which takes place on Sunday 28th April. I’ve been training since January – in over four months, I’ve run more than 500 miles and definitely feel fitter than I did at the start of the year! I’m now at that point where a 5k feels like a breeze and even going out for a 13 mile run is considered a pretty short session.

This is the 10th anniversary of my first marathon. The London Marathon in 2009 was my first foray into long distance running and now, in 2019, I’m on marathon number eight (I missed three, one due to pregnancy and two through injury). The thing is, that even with a few of them under my belt, they don’t get easier – I’ll never relax and think I’m capable of running the race without the adequate training, nor will I ever underestimate the challenge I’ve signed up for. If you’re running a 26.2 mile race this year, you’ll understand that it’s a huge commitment because you need to allocate a substantial amount of time to pounding the pavements. If you’re not willing to do this, or if you don’t have time in the diary, then perhaps it’s best to wait until you have a window in your schedule.

Last year, over £63 million was raised for charity, which is truly incredible. This year, I’m running for The Children’s Trust, which helps children with brain damage – it’s an amazing charity and I’m now an ambassador for it. When you’re running through the streets on the day, you’re surrounded by thousands of fellow runners wearing their charity vests, running for the likes of Cancer Research UK, Dementia Revolution, NSPCC, Mind and many others. It becomes quite emotional, as you run alongside others who are also participating in memory of loved ones.

If you haven’t ever run a marathon but it’s on your bucket list, my tip is to enter the ballot – have a go at getting a place and let fate make the decision for you! Over half the applications are from people who have never run a marathon before, so why rule yourself out? It’s such an epic challenge and it’s certainly something I would encourage everyone to do once, if they’re capable – the entire experience is life-changing. From the minute you secure your place and throughout the build-up to race day, you’ll experience highs and lows and there’ll be easy training runs and tougher ones. The day itself is a memory you’ll have forever. It’s a long way to run for anyone, and you’ll need as much mental strength as physical stamina, but that will all fade into insignificance once you have the medal in your hands. From the intense training regime to the camaraderie on the day with other runners, you’ll be overwhelmed by a huge sense of self-pride at your achievement once you cross that finish line.

If you love running or are just thinking about going for a jog round the block for the very first time, make sure you listen out for my brand new weekly podcast. I’ll be chatting to others who love that feel-good sensation they get when they pop on their trainers and head out for a run. It’s called RunPod and every week I’ll be joined by a special guest who has a passion for running. The first episode features Peter Andre and launches on the 1st April!

Jenni Falconer