Running the London Marathon

Every year, a team of runners take on the iconic London Marathon to raise money for guiding

Emma Smith, 2019 London Marathon runner
31 May 2019

The ballot is now open to be part of our 2020 London Marathon squad. Thinking about taking the plunge but need some inspiration? Read Emma’s training diary, one of our 2019 runners, who exlains how she prepared for the race of a lifetime.

Emma's training diary

October 2018

I received an email offering me a place at the 2019 London Marathon. I’ve been part of guiding since Rainbows, so when I saw that you could run the London Marathon in aid of Girlguiding I knew this was a challenge that I had to do.

November 2018

HQ’s added me to a Facebook group and the instant support from the other runners has been amazing. We’ve worked together coming up with a challenge badge to help fundraise the £2000 needed to take part. I’m also thinking of a plan to break down the total amount into bitesize chunks.

December 2018

I’ve spent the last month getting myself up to 5km again. I was never a runner to start with, hence why I wanted to do this challenge, as that’s what it would be - a challenge! Now I need to start my training plan. I’m going to use the official Virgin Money London Marathon training pack for beginners. It’s great because it’s not focused on timing, just getting out and racking up the distances.

January 2019

I’ve enjoyed my Christmas and New Year, but now the serious training begins. I’ve got up to 10km now. This has been the hardest mental barrier so far. Physically my body could handle it, but my head was struggling. I kept trying to be positive and push through. I did an evening with my Guide unit where we did some work on the marathon history and looking at some famous people who had conquered it. My girls had such faith in me, and my next long run I did was 12km! Since then, the distances seem easier.

February 2019

Everything’s on track. As a team we’ve got our badge sorted. I’ve also had some very generous donations from local groups. The total’s in sight and the running’s cranking up too!

March 2019

 I’ve hit my £2000 target. Now I’ve no excuse, so all my attention’s focused on the end goal! I’m starting to see my pace increasing and things are getting easier. I’ve been running three times a week, usually a shorter run, an interval run and a long run. I’ve now managed a half marathon and I’m ecstatic!

April 2019

Race month! I’m still on track with training, donations are still coming in, more bake sales and so many generous people. Since confirmation of a place I’ve been seeing a physio during my training to prevent injury. He said he’s seen a great improvement and supported me in knowing I was ready for this. A 34km run completed in the nice sunshine is one of my biggest achievements so far - the next time I’ll run that far will be in London! It’s now time for tapering and carb loading, which is quite tricky. But having the rest of the team to chat to and support each other has been invaluable. Plus, our running tops have arrived, bright pink! Girlguiding have arranged to meet us at the runners Expo to have some photos and meet Anna McNuff (who will be running barefoot in aid of Girlguiding).

28 April 2019

Race day! After a good night’s sleep, I met up with all the team and we made our way to the start. Nerves kicked in but I knew my plan; stick to my race pace and take it all in. Suddenly I was half way and at the Girlguiding cheer squad. My family also made it down to support me and met me along the way. The last two miles of the marathon was unbelievable, a real party for everyone. Then I saw 385 yards and then the finish in sight. I crossed the finish line after 5 hours 44 minutes, and triumphantly received my medal. In five months, I’ve transformed from a non-runner to completing the London Marathon 2019 - all for Girlguiding!

Emma’s top tips for marathon magic

  1. Find a training plan that suits you and stick to it. As a non-runner this was the best thing I did and I felt confident going into the race.
  2. Have a fundraising plan and aim to get the amount raised as soon as you can, so you can then focus on the miles. Girlguiding’s fundraising team are so supportive, always answering an email and giving ideas to help out.
  3. Get to know your fellow team runners. The support I got from them when we were all training was so needed and now they’re friends for life.
  4. If you can, don’t wear headphones on race day. The route atmosphere and entertainment are something I can’t explain, and you’ll never see London like this again.
  5. Enjoy it. It’s a massive achievement and only 1% of the population will run a marathon!