Alice Oppenheimer: A marathon was never on my bucket list *H&H Plus*


  • As some people may know, I’m running the London Marathon this year to raise money for the wonderful charity Brooke. I’ll be honest, running a marathon was never on my bucket list and not something I ever thought I’d do. Let’s face it, I’m built more like a rugby player than a long-distance runner.

    But when I heard the news of the postponement of the marathon to 4 October, due to coronavirus, I’ll be honest, I burst into tears. I completely understand why they’ve made this decision and of course there are far worse things going on around the world, but the thought of having to build up the training again to be ready for October is tough.

    Marathon training is timed to ensure that you are fit enough but not too fatigued on the day, normally with a 16-week plan. I’ve been telling myself that, come May, I never have to run again and now that’s not the case at all.

    When the idea first came about, I thought I’d regret it if I said no, plus I get to raise money for an amazing cause. I was lucky enough to visit India with Brooke and Charlotte Dujardin in 2015 to see what a difference the charity’s work makes to people and working equines in the poorest areas of the world.

    However, I hadn’t considered finding enough time for the training or what it would actually entail. I thought it was simply building up the distance, but there’s way more to it than that. Who knew you have to practise running and eating (harder than it sounds), and that you need to include interval training in your running!

    Running then riding

    I’ve been trying to fit in my short “recovery” runs and my interval runs in the mornings, before I start riding my horses. Originally, I was trying to avoid having to get up so early, but I’d spend all day stressing about the run and wouldn’t ride as well.

    I have tried to do my “long” runs – those you use to build up the distance to 20 miles (you never run the entire 26.2 miles before the day itself) – on days when my horses have the day off. This means I can avoid running for three hours or more then having to ride the same day. It’s great in principle, but not always easy.

    Is this really fun?

    Along with Sam Roberts, my showing friend with whom I’m running the marathon, I managed to fit in a half marathon on 8 March, to get an idea of a raceday scenario. I learnt that the hardest aspect of distance running is definitely controlling the mind. During the 2hr 20min that I was running, I was definitely questioning why on earth some people choose to do this every weekend for fun. Saying that, some people think riding horses is crazy.

    With the marathon postponed until the autumn, it is going to be even more difficult to fit in the training around competition season – assuming of course that we can still compete this summer!

    Having to build up the miles again is terrifying, but I just keep thinking about why I’m doing it and what the money I’ve raised will do for Brooke.

    I am determined to finish the marathon for this amazing cause. If anyone would like to support me, please do visit my JustGiving page here.

    Wish me luck!

    Ref Horse & Hound; 19 March 2020