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Marathon Man

Andy Smith, Stock Controller, Xaar: It’s always been an ambition of mine to run the London Marathon. I watched a friend complete it about a decade ago. When I saw how happy he was at the finish line it was all the inspiration I needed to decide one day I would achieve the very same feat.

Like many things in life, they get put off for another time until we can find a reason to motivate us. For me, that motivation was a combination of personal aspirations teamed with doing something good for our charity partner, Break.

If you’re unfamiliar with Break, they offer incredible support and resources to vulnerable children, young people and families across East Anglia. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some people supported by the charity, and their stories have blown me away. The cause is truly worthy, and I’m so pleased Xaar has partnered with this wonderful charity.

Having smashed our fundraising target for Break last year the opportunity to build on this was all the incentive I needed and so my entry for the London Marathon was made. My target is to raise £2,000 – and with Xaar matching whatever I raise, I’m hoping to exceed that amount.

Being a Charity Champion for Xaar, key events such as the London Marathon provide a real focus for fundraising. When we partnered with Break, it was part of a three-year commitment as part of Xaar’s focus on Local Community and People – two of the key pillars in the company’s Sustainability Roadmap. To find a charity partner which fits our ethos was very important to us. To date we’ve done initiatives such as bake sales, auctions and I even did a sponsored silence. I didn’t know so many people would pay for me to be quiet for a day!

As part of my training, I’ve also been part of a small team at Xaar who have walked one million steps each. Not only was this an extra incentive while training for the marathon, but we’ve also raised over £1,000 so far from the initiative, which is fantastic. In fact, with all the training I’ve done well over 1.5 million steps! I’m very proud of that.

Indeed, alongside the motivation of raising funds for Break, I’m also hitting some personal targets by training for the London Marathon. Getting fit and losing some weight have been an added focus and hopefully this will all make my kids proud of me.

Without doubt, this has given me all the incentive to get up and start training. The exercise schedule so far has been intense – as you might expect it to be for a marathon. On Monday, I go for a walk and as we have a new puppy, which requires a lot of walking, that is a great reason to get my trainers on and get out there no matter the weather. On Tuesday and Thursday, I run five kilometres during my lunch break, which neatly sandwiches playing football each Wednesday. On Friday I do another five-kilometre run and on Saturday I rest my legs and do some weights in my home gym.

My first big hurdle is something of a trial run before the big event itself - running the Cambridge Half Marathon on 3rd March. This will play a key part in getting my distance up and ensuring I can manage to complete the London Marathon a few weeks later.

Having the perseverance to see this through is undoubtedly a huge personal challenge I have had to learn to not see the training as a chore; running can become mundane if you’re not properly motivated, so for me it was not just about the physical challenge but the mental side of things as well.

At this stage I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better. I feel fitter and stronger – I’ve never had proper muscles before! My quality of life has improved significantly since I started training and I’ve no intention of looking back – I still have goals I want to reach in the future and crossing that finishing line in The Mall in April will be a huge achievement for me and for Break.

I’m not sure what the future holds after this. Somebody mentioned doing the Three Peaks Challenge, if so, I’ll need to get my legs back in the ice baths again! But no matter what comes next, I’ll approach it with the same gusto as I have done while training for this marathon and doing my million steps. Every step counts – especially when I know it makes such a difference.

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