Meet Nicola. She is one of our Chatty Hatter writers. She is also a runner and is currently in training for the Edinburgh Marathon on 26th May. It is reckoned that only 1% of the world’s population has ever run a marathon so what’s the story behind Nicola and Edinburgh?

Is this your first marathon?

No. I completed the Paris Marathon in 2009 and London in 2013. I swore I’d never run another after finishing London! 26.2 miles is a really long way and I didn’t enjoy my London experience, despite it being one of the most iconic marathons in the world. I think I put too my pressure on myself to finish in a certain time and consequently didn’t take in the atmosphere, the crowds and the experience. Then I wasn’t very well on the way home and that put me right off!

So, why are you running another one?

I had one of those ‘moments’. My friend Danielle posted on Twitter that she had got a place to run the Edinburgh Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Society. I immediately thought, ‘ooh, that’s a great idea, I could do that’. Without thinking it through (and ignoring my very cross subconscious leaping around), I entered and got a charity place too. It was really the charity element that lured me in. My dad was diagnosed with early stages dementia last year and I saw this as a fabulous and quite easy way to raise some funds and awareness for this incredible cause. A few hours of discomfort on my part would be a drop in the ocean compared to what people with Alzheimer’s and their families go through.

Have you done anything different this time around?

I used to run with the Tunbridge Wells Harriers and back then thought that was enough to get me through training. But six years on, my only running usually involves my dog dragging me up to the Common and back, so I decided I needed a proper plan. This is a huge thing for me as I’m not great at being told what to do. However, I found one and stuck to it religiously, for the first 12 weeks at least! I quite enjoyed the fact all my runs were pre-determined. But then I started getting injured and my right leg from glute to ankle really hurt every time I ran. My low point came when I was scheduled to run 20 miles and both legs started hurting at mile 2. I somehow managed to hobble through to 18.75 miles and then had to walk. Those numbers sound crazy, but training becomes such a psychological battle and I was determined to get 20 miles in the bank. But a change of plan was needed!

Are you still on track for the marathon?

I hope so! I went to see my friend Sarah Russell, who’s a biomechanics coach, and she diagnosed a severe case of wonkiness. Armed with lots of foam roller exercises (implement of torture for every runner), various stretches and a massively revised training plan, I’m more or less back on track. My leg still hurts but is manageable and the thought of running 26.2 miles doesn’t fill me with so much dread! My biggest takeaway has been to be kind to myself. Running a marathon is a monumental achievement for anyone. If I listen to my body, don’t worry about finishing in a certain time and enjoy the experience, it will all be fine! I know it’s doable. What could possibly go wrong?! But if you EVER hear me utter ‘I think I’ll run another marathon’, remind me of these words!

Good luck to Nicola on 26th May! You can read more about her fundraising journey and support her here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nicolawithers