On 3rd October our co-founder, Eloise, will be taking on the challenge of her first ever marathon – and not just any marathon, the world’s most famous – the London Marathon. This is the 41st anniversary of the iconic event which sees mass participation of 35,000 runners of all ages and abilities pound London’s historic streets for 26.2 miles – that’s over 42 kms!
As an Olympic middle-distance runner, she is accustomed to training for a 5,000 and 10,000 meter distance – but tackling a distance 4x that is a different challenge. If you have ever run a marathon, or long distance you know just how grueling the training can be.
Read our CEO Rebecca’s chat with Elzy about her preparation as an elite runner leading up to this new chapter in an already phenomenal athletic career.
When did you decide to take on the London Marathon?
Well, I was originally going to run my debut marathon on home soil at the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival in September and I was really excited about that, but when Sydney went into full lockdown in June and then Melbourne followed (which ruled out the Melbourne marathon), it was looking more and more unlikely that I wouldn’t get an opportunity to race in Australia before 2022. So my coach Nic went to work on getting me into another marathon overseas in order to try and qualify for next years’ Commonwealth Games.
How did you adjust your training to prepare for the marathon given that you had been training to qualify for Tokyo for the 5,000m up until that point?
A general marathon build-up for us is around 12 weeks. After I missed out on Tokyo, I had a couple of weeks of very easy running. I already had a reasonable base of training behind me running 130km per week and once I began the 12 week build up my mileage per week slowly crept up and peaked at around 155km per week. Basically, marathon training is longer, sustained efforts on the track on Tuesdays, long tempo work on Friday, a long run of up to 2.5 hours on a Sunday and then all the other runs in between.
Outside of the physical challenge of a longer distance, how do you prepare mentally for a marathon?
I’m lucky enough to have my training partner and good friend Rory Darkins who is a Psychology practitioner and mental skills coach. I work with Rory on mental skills and tools to draw on when it gets hard. Mostly, when I’m really hurting in training or racing, I try and control the ‘controllables’ like my breathing and I try and focus on the way I am running, making sure that I’m staying relaxed. I think the most important thing when you’re under pressure is to be curious about what could be possible rather than trying to predict the result or the outcome, staying in the moment and controlling what you can control in that moment. I think this will be key in the marathon. Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure… I know that the marathon distance is going to challenge my vulnerability (even the training already has) and I’m here for it!
Have you changed your running gear to accommodate the longer distance?
I’m thankful to have Adidas as my sponsor and they make some of the best (and fastest) marathon shoes on the market. I do most of my easy running in the Solar Glides and I do key workouts in the adizero pro’s. I’ve been practising drinks and fuelling for the marathon and generally paying a bit more attention to recovery techniques to manage my body with the increased training load.
What was the first thing you did when you arrived in London?
I arrived in London at 5am and went straight to my coaches house in Teddington where I will base out while preparing. I then went to seek out a coffee to try and stay awake the rest of the day and then went for a light run.
Has COVID created any added challenges for participating in a marathon overseas?
So many!!! Travel has changed a lot through covid. It was an admin marathon just to get on the plane. From getting an exemption to leave Australia, to finding flights to the UK that didn’t transit through countries that are deemed covid “high risk”, to getting tested in the days leading up and filling out endless paperwork… then we are tested every day at the race hotel and are advised to self-isolate other than training when in London to reduce the risk of infection before the race. On top of that finding a flight home has been a challenge, and then having to quarantine for two weeks on arrival back in Sydney is another.
Despite all of this, like most industries, the road racing industry has been hit pretty hard by covid and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to race.
What does your training schedule look like post-marathon?
Immediately after the marathon, depending on how I pull up, I’m imagining I will take a few days completely off and then start light jogging after 3-4 days. I’ll run easy for at least 3-4 weeks after the marathon before resuming normal base training.
You can find some of Elzy’s recovery tips here.
Do you have any advice to share with others considering a marathon in the future?
I’m no expert haha. You should probably ask me this again after the race :). I guess with training, I’ve learned to fuel differently to match the energy demands. I’ve worked with Australian Olympic team nutritionist Jess Rothwell and I think this has been key to me being able to knock out the big weeks of training without getting rundown and still having energy for the kids.
What are you taking with you to keep busy in quarantine when you arrive back in Australia?
My goal in quarantine is to finish editing my book “One More Try” and get it ready to publish (Stay tuned for more news on this book!). I also have some speaking engagements booked in over zoom, my friend Rory Darkins and I deliver a presentation called “Unlock Your Olympian Mindset” to school students and corporate organisations which is fun. We get a huge buzz out of helping people develop skills to overcome challenges and build resilience on the way to pursuing their potential. Then there’s Love Mercy work to be done with our team in Uganda gearing up for another Cents for Seeds planting season. And then I’m sure I’ll be face-timing my kids a lot 🙂
I’m sure you’ll be missing your family while you’re in London. Once you’re back in Sydney, what will be the first thing you do or the first place you will go as a family after quarantine?
Once we are all back together, we will head straight to Shelly Park in Cronulla. It’s a short walk from where we live and it’s perfect for a picnic, a swim and a game of cricket!
We’re so proud and excited for you Elzy!
Stay tuned for updates and race results on Elzy’s and our Love Mercy Instagram… and we might have a chance to chat with her again once she’s back in quarantine in Australia. Stay tuned!