From pandemic pondering to pavement pursuits my journey to the London Marathon finish line and why I'm running again

19 April 2024, 07:48

Why I’m running the London Marathon this weekend, writes Johnny Jenkins
Why I’m running the London Marathon this weekend, writes Johnny Jenkins. Picture: J Jenkins
Johnny Jenkins

By Johnny Jenkins

I’m excited to be running the London Marathon on Sunday for the second time - it really is the best course in the world.

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Getting into running during the pandemic changed my life - I followed a fitness plan for the first time and realised how great exercise can make you feel.

My ability has come a long way since those first few weeks, when I struggled to run for more than a few minutes at a time.

I needed a challenge last year and decided to attempt a marathon, raising money for the charity Global’s Make Some Noise.

The training programme lasted 16 weeks, consisting of multiple training runs every week - a mix of intervals, steady jogs and the dreaded long runs.

Running for three or four hours in a row isn’t easy, but the slow and relentless plodding changed my mindset - I grew to love exercise.

I didn’t sleep much before the big day and woke up early to head to Blackheath in south-east London.

On the journey, the trains were full of runners from around the world - all united through their 26.2 mile mission ahead.

Soon enough, the starting gun was fired and we began our run through the cheery residential streets of Woolwich.

I was amazed at just how many runners were taking part, each with a charity listed on their vest - it’s so inspiring.

The crowds in London are famously large. You see the first big group of supporters at Cutty Sark in Greenwich.

Nothing prepared me for the feeling of crossing Tower Bridge - the halfway mark of the course. The noise from the crowds was off the scale.

Seeing friends on the bridge and family further down the course gave me the energy to carry on - even though the hardest part of the run was ahead.

As you turn right after the bridge, you enter deepest darkest East London - places you only recognise as DLR stations on the tube map.

The Isle of Dogs isn’t the most exciting place, but you’re still collecting distance and getting closer to the finishing line.

Before long, you’re back at the Tower of London and the home straight is ahead - just a few miles left along the river and towards Parliament.

By this point, I was running on empty, grabbing food from spectators and desperate for an energy drink. For the first time on the route, my whole body hurt.

My advice for the final few miles: grin and bear it. You’re almost there.

As I approached Buckingham Palace and turned onto the Mall, I was over the moon. I was going to complete the course - and with a respectable time.

A medal was placed around my neck and a foil blanket over my shoulders. I did it.

Running the London Marathon is amazing - it’s the most iconic route in the UK. I can’t wait to do it all over again.

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