London Marathon 2019: Why I Choose to Run

John Smith

Josephine Southwell-Sander is the Team Lead for Learning and Development in the UK and has been chosen by Anthony Nolan to run the 2019 London Marathon. We couldn’t be prouder of Jo and will be following her journey for the next few months with a series of blog posts, where Jo details her experience and talks us through her decision, her training, and her motivation.

I never thought I would say that I’d be training for a marathon. I’m the type of person who would miss a train rather than jog and work up an ounce of sweat. Now I consider myself very lucky that I get to run the London Marathon 2019 in support of FDM’s UK charity partner, Anthony Nolan.

Thanks to this amazing organisation, a register has been created to help those with blood cancer find a lifesaving donor match. This is just the first part. When someone suffering from this illness requires a blood cell transplant, they endure a rigorous process that is draining on both the patient and their families. This is where Anthony Nolan comes in. From the process of finding a suitable donor to recovering from the transplant, Anthony Nolan are there to support these brave people and their loved ones. I was lucky enough to meet some of the donors and the people whose lives have been saved by them, and the stories are incredible. I can’t begin to describe what the journey is like for both parties, but I can say that I’ve witnessed this charity support these patients through every step. I chose to support Anthony Nolan in my marathon endeavours, because there isn’t another charity like them.

I was never a good runner and have avoided it at all costs. I enjoy being active, but doing any running drills pains me. Much like most things, if you avoid what you think you are not good at, you get worse!  Someone once shared with me their story of running the London Marathon and how amazing they felt. Hearing a non-runner talk about training and completing a marathon inspired me, although the first words out of my mouth were “I couldn’t do that.”

When I got home that evening I thought to myself; if running is all about putting one foot in front of the other, then perhaps I could challenge myself to reach this goal. There are so many times in our day-to-day lives when we experience points where we feel like we can’t do something, but with a bit of perseverance and preparation, we actually can. We just need to break it down and stick with it—by continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

My stubbornness had kicked in, and that was it—I put my hat into the ring for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019. I had no idea how to begin my training, but thanks to a friend I found a trainer who could work with my beginners’ experience level. When I first told people about the marathon I largely got one of two responses:

  1. Amazing! Hats off to you!
  2. Amazing! What is your mileage?

As a total novice, I was embarrassed that I wasn’t tracking my miles. I am interval training and not using miles as my benchmark at all. Because I am starting from scratch, I am taking my training slow. Going from 0 to 26.2 miles is a challenge. The biggest thing to focus on is not getting hurt before it’s really time to run.

The responses of those around me reminded me of something important. It isn’t always about comparing your goals to others’. Sometimes triumph can come from simply completing a task or goal you never thought you would be able to do. I’m confident that working hard to accomplish this personal goal all while giving back to a wonderful charity like Anthony Nolan will be worth the sore muscles and long hours. My goal for this challenge is to simply do my best, and beat the street cleaners to the finish line!

If you’d like to show Jo and this wonderful cause some support, donate here.

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