Birmingham Marathon: Preparation in the Cotswolds

by Laura Leyland, Senior Lecturer in Engineering.

The Birmingham Marathon takes place on Sunday 16 October. Our engineering lecturer Laura will be taking part. She has been working with Richard Blagrove from the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences to help her prepare for this challenge. In her final blog before the run, Laura talks about walking the Cotswold Way as part of her preparation.

As soon as the registration form arrived for the Birmingham Marathon, I started googling marathon training plans. At this point I freaked out; in what part of normal does anyone “run 20 miles” as a training run!? Walking, no worries, but running…. So before I knew it, I signed myself and a friend up to walk the Cotswold way, 100km walk from Bath to Cheltenham with 2000 others, with a view to increasing my endurance through extended walking, which is obviously a completely normal thing to do!

It was a pleasure meeting up with Rich for the strength and conditioning training. We discussed the upcoming walk, and how the S&C training would support this too. After the first session, my legs were OK, but I couldn’t move my arms for days! After only a week of S&C exercises, I ran my fastest ever three miles. It would be nice to report a week on week improvement, but, to be honest, running fell off my training plan for the last three weeks before the walk, as I was spending so much time just walking. I can add that I have increased the amount of press ups I can complete by over 300%!

On July 1 we set off at 9am on our adventure, which included 2000m of climb: “like doing Snowdon twice”. After a really positive first 50km, I hit the lowest point at the 65km rest stop at about 2.30am when my friend decided that she wasn’t going to continue. Somehow, despite being convinced that I was going to stop too, I carried on for “just one more hour” as I wanted to walk through the sunrise with the help of my amazing support team. Having started walking again though, I decided I had come that far and was going to finish. It was really tough, and I finally finished after 29 hours. Yes, I am crying in this picture.

cotswolds laura leyland high res

Recovery from this event has taken time. I had no blisters, and only a couple of days of stiff legs, but the general tiredness combined with two very busy work weeks with the great, but exhausting, Birmingham City Engineering Festival was difficult.

Having completed this walk, the Marathon has shrunk dramatically in my head. It’s only 26 miles, only 5-6 hours, much more achievable! I have started running regularly again, using S&C training to support it. I have some niggles with plantar fasciitis and am looking forward to discussions around injury prevention with the Birmingham City University Sport team.

Watch Laura cross the finish line of the Cotswold Way

Now it’s on to the big day…

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