RW’s Ultimate Marathon: How I Beat…

How I Beat... 3:00

“Following a schedule was the most important thing. Knowing exactly what I had to do each day without having to think was great – it’s amazing how much confidence you gain from placing a tick over a date and training session. I also got a big boost from doing the races that the schedules prescribed. It makes a big difference when you can see that you’re on target. One big key on marathon day was knowing that so many of my family, friends and people who had sponsored me were thinking of me.”­Stewart Guynan, 26. Chartered building surveyor, Godalming, Surrey. 2:58:50, London 2000

“I just got focused with my preparation – I made sure I did my regular long, slow runs, and I made a point of doing threshold runs, building up from 25 minutes to 35 or 45 minutes near 10-mile pace. I knew it was going to be hard work, and I just prepared myself for that. Energy gels every five miles helped in training and racing, but there were no real secrets to what I was doing, except for hard work.”­Kevin Wood, 43. Youth justice manager, Greenwich, London. 2:59:27, London 1999

How I Beat... 4:00

“I’m not a fast runner, and the biggest lesson I learnt from my first marathon – although it sounds really easy – is just to keep going, even if you have to slow right down. Before last year’s London, I’d built up to about 40 miles a week with long runs of 15-20 miles at weekends. I was careful not to get too tired at this point though, and if necessary would sometimes cut down on the distance of these.

“Training through winter was the worst part. With it being cold and dark I just had to keep focused on the end result, remembering it was unlikely to be like this on the actual day. Referring to RW schedules was great motivation – it was good to know someone else was thinking about it too!”­Jane Webb, 40. Accountant, Chester. 3:58:42, London 2000

“Maintaining a balance was an important part of my marathon training. My weekly mileage developed from 20 miles, to 30 just before Christmas, and then finally 40 miles, and combined long runs of up to 20 miles, speed and often hill sessions. These were all-important parts of the preparation, because although the long runs get you round, the speedwork makes you faster. I would also regularly include some cycling, swimming or gymwork around the planned runs.

“Motivation was never a real problem; My running club would regularly meet up to train. I found it helped to organise runs with other people, particularly over the longer distances – you feel you have to go out then!”­Barbara Law, 56. Retired, Colchester, Essex. 3:46:37 (2nd W55-59), London 2000

How I Beat... My First Marathon

“I made the weekly long runs the single focus of my training, and built up to around 14 miles before the marathon. That might not sound much, but I know that if I hadn’t done them I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the race nearly as much as I did. The long runs really were my lifeline – I couldn’t do speedwork because of a back injury, and my family commitments meant that the rest of my training was confined to four steady half-hour runs on the treadmill each week.”­Julia Ellis, 39. Retail jeweller, Aylesbury, Bucks. 5:00:47, London 2000