London Marathon: Simon Walsh

Simon Walsh

You are Clinical Lead with EHAAT, why did you decide to run the London Marathon, on top of what you already do?

EHAAT is a charity that only exists because of the generosity of people giving to support it. So working for EHAAT is a bit different to any job I have had with the NHS, as all of us who work at here are always trying to do additional work to support the fundraising side of the Charity. I feel it is important to support the Charity not just through clinical work but through fundraising as well.

Working full time in a clinical job means you are quite limited on the time you have to support fundraising, so I thought that taking on the marathon would be a really good way to combine something I really want to personally achieve, whilst also raising money for EHAAT at the same time.

In some ways, the reason I have taken on the challenge is a bit selfish. When you experience a difficult, emotional shift, it’s really good to have a way to remove yourself and put your mind to something else. I have found running a good way to process the day, enabling me to reset for the next shift.

Do you feel more pressure being one of our own?

Definitely. When I was in the process of signing up, I was thinking: ‘once I’ve taken this step, there’s no going back, I see these people every day, so I just can’t sort of sneak out of it if it’s not going well.’ It’s a nice sort of pressure though, you know that people want you to do well and I know my colleagues will support me with my fundraising. I’ve definitely had a bit of ribbing though with people saying: ‘At your age, are you going to be alright doing this? Will you be able to finish it?

Have you done the London Marathon before? Will you follow the same training plan?

I completed the London Marathon five years ago. That was the first time I had done any serious distance running, so I started training about six months before the event.

I’m in a slightly different position this time as although I didn’t carry on long distance running, I did continue to run. In the last year I’ve been training with my partner, as she was training for a half marathon. So, from now on, I need to start working towards building my miles up to reach 26.2 miles in April.

I ran it in just under 4hours 30 mins last time, which I was happy with for my first marathon. But now I’m thinking: ‘Can I do a bit better than that?’ I’m five years older which is going against me, but in my mind, I’m thinking I really want to try and beat that – even if it’s just by a minute! But ultimately the most important thing is just to finish it, and enjoy it. The fact that I am fundraising for such a worthwhile charity gives me a reason to get out on those cold, wet and windy days to train.

What are your plans for reaching the fundraising target?

I think most of my fundraising is going to be through asking people to donate to my online fundraising page. I’m fortunate that I have quite a lot of Facebook friends, Twitter and Instagram followers – so I will use that as best as I can to spread the word.

I’ll be speaking to people that I work with at each airbase, and I also work at the Royal London Hospital where there is a big group of people who are very supportive of EHAAT, so I will use all of those avenues to do the best I can.

If you could give one tip to someone just starting out on their running journey, what would that be?

Well, I’m definitely not an expert, but the thing I learned from training for a marathon last time was to get a programme that suits you. There are loads of different training programmes available, you just need to find one that fits in with your lifestyle and other commitments. Once you have found one, stick with it as best as you can. Put in the hours, whether it’s nice running weather or not. Ultimately, just believe that if you do the training, you will be fine. There will definitely be points in your training when you feel like you can’t get to the end. You have to mentally put yourself in a place where you believe in yourself. That comes with the training, but also being self-confident and having self-belief.

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