Mary Phelps, a Speech and Language Assistant for Livewell South West is taking part in the London Marathon on October 3rd, 2021 and shares with us her journey.

Mary is currently training incredibly hard and is following a structured Marathon plan which sees her weekly mileage now around 35km/22m and even recently completed the London Vitality Virtual 10k before starting her day at work. Mary’s story is an inspiration to us all and today we’re asking her six questions about her experience…

Can you tell us about your fitness journey? What motivated you to begin running and why?

I started running after taking part in Plymouth’s Race 4 Life back in 2008. Along with raising money for such a good cause, I found I really enjoyed running and have never really stopped since.

I have entered many local races and events over the years, but the London Marathon has always been at the top of my running ‘wish list’.

How has getting active everyday helped to improve your lifestyle, health, and wellbeing?

I am very lucky as I live in a beautiful part of the country where I am able to run outdoors most days, providing you don’t mind getting wet and running up hills!

My running has not only helped me maintain a healthy weight and improve my fitness levels, but it has also benefited my mental health and wellbeing too. Being outdoors and just tuning into what’s going on around you, seems to help with some of the ups and down within my normal daily life.

Apart from running, I also take part in a weekly ‘Clubbercise’ dance class which is great fun. The class involves the use of neon glow sticks and dancing to some great tunes! During the last 14 months, the classes were taking place over ‘Zoom’ but since the easing of some of the lockdown restrictions, the classes are now back on and I am really enjoying being back with all the other members of the group. I can highly recommend it!

Can you tell us about what support you’ve been able to access within recent months?

After finding out that I had secured a place for the London Marathon, I joined an online support group for ‘First time Marathoners’. Who knew such groups existed but thank heavens they do! The group is run by a very experienced marathon runner, known as the ‘Cheesecake Runner’ as she is very fond of cheese, cake, and cheesecake!

She sounded just the ticket and I felt we definitely had at least three things in common! Since joining the group, I feel I have learnt so much from both the coach and the other fellow runners, which I feel will definitely help me on my Marathon journey.

Have you taken part in any local races or activities within the Plymouth area in the lead up to the London Marathon later this year?

I have completed a few ‘virtual’ races and events over the past few months, and I have recently signed up for the Plymouth Half Marathon in September.

Fingers crossed this will still be able to go ahead as planned as this will be my first group race event for many months.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be more active and change their lifestyle?

Firstly, I would say to try and find something you are likely to enjoy. This might be walking, swimming or maybe running. There are many websites and apps that provide and promote local activities and ideas.

There was a time in 2019 where I was unable to run due to having surgery on my leg. I was able to resume running in January 2020, provided I took things steady. This is when I downloaded the Couch to 5k app and my road back to running began. At that time, Jo Wiley was my coach, and I was walking more than running, but I was back out enjoying the outdoors again which really helped with my all-round recovery.

You have a Virgin Money page, raising funds for the Livewell Foundation. Can you tell us more about this cause and what it means to you?

The Livewell Foundation currently provides funding for projects that will have a positive and enduring impact on people, whether that’s by reducing social isolation, improving health and wellbeing, or preventing ill-health.

The LiveWell Foundation not only supports community projects within Plymouth and South West Devon, but it also supports additional funding of equipment and staff training for NHS staff.

If you would like to support Mary’s journey and donate to the Livewell Foundation click here