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Top training tips for marathon success with Countryside’s Sam Harding

14th October 2021

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On behalf of Countryside and L&Q’s flagship development, Beaulieu, we are proud to be sponsoring the Chelmsford Marathon and Half Marathon for another year, in aid of local charity, Havens Hospices. A number of our staff and Beaulieu residents have signed up to take part on Sunday 17 October in support of the charity who provide specialist palliative and supportive care to hundreds of adults and children, and their families each year, through their local hospice services Fair Havens, Little Havens and The J’s Hospice. This care takes place either in the hospices or in a person’s own home. The care is completely free of charge, thanks to the kindness and generosity of people making donations or taking part in events like the Chelmsford Marathon and Half Marathon.

With the event happening this weekend, we caught up with Sam Harding, Development Manager at Countryside who has signed up for the half marathon to find out how his training has been going and if he has any top tips for fellow participants.

Why did you sign up for this year’s Chelmsford Half marathon?

I was convinced to sign up by a colleague and other members of the Countryside team who are big supporters of Havens Hospices at a BBQ this summer. I also used to run a lot of marathons - I took part in the London Marathon back in 2012 and was caught on television overtaking Gordon Ramsay – it was a brilliant claim to fame, until I realised he was quite a few years older than me!

What do you enjoy about running?

The end… [laughs]. It is very rewarding and I enjoy having a good level of fitness. During the first lockdown I was running every day or at least going on a dog walk, and it helped to keep me sane – it also offers a nice escape from the computer when you’re working from home. I like to challenge myself too – running faster and trying to beat my previous time.

What are your top tips for training?

I’d say my top tips would be:

  • 1.Run to an event
  • I personally prefer playing a sport to running a set route, so what I tend to do is run to a football match, play football and then run back, which helps to break up the run but still means I’m running for a significant duration.
  • 2.Run in a loop
  • Run in a loop rather than in one direction, otherwise you’ll finish your run and end up miles from home.
  • 3.Drop water along running route
  • I either cycle or ask a friend to drop water along my running route before I start training, so that I have water hidden at various different points. It sounds strange, but it means you have water already there waiting rather than carrying it with you on your run.
  • 4.Run in the evenings
  • My running schedule is weather dependent, and I have to admit I am a fair-weather runner, but as a rule I prefer to run in the evenings. You can go straight to bed afterwards and you’re so exhausted that you sleep well. Flexible working has also been introduced for us, and so if there’s a good opportunity to train during the day I have the option of training to fit around my work.