Meet our marathon runners

by Leeds Building Society

We were founded on the simple principle of people helping people. Now over 140 years later, our charity partnership and work in local communities helps us to keep doing just that.

In fact, we’re incredibly proud to say that two of our very own completed the gruelling 26.2 mile London Marathon course this April – on the 39th anniversary of the event.

Running on behalf of our official charity partner Samaritans, Vickie Jamieson from our Compliance Team and Andy Weeks from our IT Team have together raised over a whopping £4500 for this brilliant cause. Even better, there’s still more coming in after the race.

Massive congrats to them!

Some tips from the pros

Back at work now (and hopefully fully recovered), we spoke to Vickie and Andy about all things marathons. And if they don’t inspire you to wipe the dust off your trainers and head to your local park, we don’t know what will.

Could you tell us a bit about what motivated you to sign-up?

Vickie: I’d always fancied the London Marathon because my Dad was a marathon runner. He’d applied every year without any luck so when the chance came up at work for a place for me to run, I thought ‘why not’. Also, I’m a Community Ambassador for the Society and like to try and get involved with as much fundraising as I can.

Andy: I’d only recently taken up running as a way to get fit and had the vague idea that I'd like to run a marathon. When the opportunity came up to run the London Marathon for Samaritans, I saw it as a way I could make a big contribution to the Society's charity partnership while also pushing myself to do something I’d never attempted before. The work the Samaritans do is vital to so many people, so it was a privilege to be representing them.

How did you prepare?

Vickie: I followed the 16 week beginners training plan on the London marathon website – and stuck to it. This included two ‘short’ runs a week, regular gym sessions to build strength and muscle and a long run each weekend which gradually increased in distance up to 18-22 miles.

Andy: Preparation started at the end of last year, with the first target being a December half marathon along the Leeds Liverpool canal. The next four months were all about building up mileage, with three runs each week. I also did a 20 miler along the canal at the end of March. This was a great chance to try running at marathon pace for a good distance and I was surprised to come in third overall.

I started to ease off during April but managed to tear a leg muscle just nine days before the marathon, which I thought was going to force me to drop out. Thankfully I saw a great physio who managed to get me back on my feet in time for race day.

What was it like on the day?

Vickie: Not sure I can put it into words. Out of this world. Fantastic. Phenomenal. Amazing.

Andy: The atmosphere on the day was fantastic from start to finish. The start area was relaxed, although everyone was quite nervous (and cold). There was plenty of time to chat to other runners while we waited at the start line and it was great to hear about their experiences during training, previous races and about the charities they were representing.

How did you keep yourself going?

Vickie: The crowd – 100%. They lift you and carry you all of the way. I got messages through my smart watch from friends and family which was also great.

Andy: The crowds were incredible around the entire course, particularly around Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and the last few miles towards the finish line. Having your name printed on your running vest makes a huge difference - you feel a little boost every time someone shouts your name. Just listening to the crowds was enough to keep you going, but there was also the fear that if I stopped I wouldn't be able to get going again!

Any tips or tricks for new runners or people thinking about starting?

Vickie: Join a running club – it helps to train with others. Listen to the advice of people who have run it before. Test anything you plan to run in beforehand. Test your hydration and nutrition plans before the day. Take lots of Vaseline with you. And most of all – on the day just enjoy it!

Andy: Go to a parkrun. It's a great place to start running with no pressure, in a friendly and relaxed environment. Set small targets and build up. As you build up distance, a decent fitness tracker (with GPS), paired with apps like Strava give you a good idea of how you're progressing by comparing your performance with previous runs. Finally, don't worry about what anyone else thinks - you'll find runners are generally a very friendly and inclusive bunch!

Go on – give it a go

Now we aren’t saying sign up for 26.2 miles – but there’s lots of opportunities out there to get active, and get involved in your local community at the same time.

Whether you’re a walker or runner, fast or slow, you can join your community parkrun and take part in free, timed 5k events every Saturday morning. And with the summer in sight, it’s a great time to get re-energised and reconnected with the place you call home.

Not only will you be doing yourself some good, but even your finances could benefit. Find out more about how being physically fit can positively influence how you manage your finances.

Finally if you’re interested in finding out more about how we support charities and local communities, we’d love you to take a look at our Charity and Community Hub.