"Listen to your body and just go"... Tips from a Marathon runner

published on 18 May 2018

With the Virgin Money London Marathon taking place this Sunday 22nd, we caught up with Major Isaac Siundu, one of last year’s runners, to discuss his motivation, training programme and what advice he would give to this year’s runners. Major Isaac Siundu is Under Secretary for East & Southern Africa at The Salvation Army International Headquarters in London.

Q. What made you want to take part in the marathon?

A. I saw the marathon as an opportunity to do something that touches people in a real sense. Together with many others, we could support The Salvation Army’s work and help people who suffer through problems such as alcoholism or loneliness. The fact that it was going to have a real impact on somebody in the UK really motivated me and I saw it as a way to carry out my ministry as a Christian in a practical way. I had been to watch the marathon in 2016 and the atmosphere was so fantastic and I thought then that this was a great opportunity to help those in need.

Q. Had you done much running before?

A. I have watched a lot of athletes in my home country Kenya but I had never run before the marathon in any serious way. The marathon gave me the opportunity to run for a purpose other than just winning, like many professional races. The London Marathon is so unique and famous and I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could run and complete it.

Q. How much training did you need before the marathon?

A. I was running at least three times a week in my local neighbourhood. I was not really on form at the start so I had to keep pushing myself and increase the distance each time. I could sense my body was reacting to the training over time and I built up some stamina which gave me the confidence that I may be able to complete the 26 miles.

Q. What was the hardest point of the marathon for you?

A. When I first started running I felt like I could do better so I started to run a little faster. But by around 6 or 7 I realised that I had a long way to go so I slowed down a little. It was around 18 miles that it became really hard, my body simply didn’t want to go any more and I thought to myself ‘am I going to survive this?’ It was at that point I thought ‘this is the end’. Luckily I saw a group from The Salvation Army ahead and stopped to eat an orange. It was the atmosphere in the area that encouraged me to move on and after that my body felt like it was improving. I could see some popular sites along the route and knew that the end was near.

Q. What did you do to celebrate?

A. I had my family there on the day following me along the route and a number of friends from our church came along to support me. They were all there to celebrate with me at the finish line, shouting and jumping and after we went for a meal together.

Q. What would be your top tip for this year’s runner?

A. You definitely need to listen to your body, go at the speed that is comfortable for you and just enjoy it. It’s such an historical marathon and it will be unlike anything else you do, whether it’s your 1st or 50th marathon. Simply listen to your body and go for it! 

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