Slow and steady the way to go as cancer survivor Alice makes a marathon effort

Thank you to all who read my first column
last week and went on to read my blog
. It had an overwhelming response!

This week I have been trying to get back into my running. It had been going really well.

For the first time ever I was actually following a basic plan, I’ve never bothered with anything like that before. Two shorter runs followed by a long run at the weekend, upping the mileage every week. I also try and fit in a bootcamp session once a week too. I had got to 10 miles which I was thrilled with.

A couple of weekends ago I climbed the Welsh Three Peaks with a group of friends. This was something that had been scheduled for the year before, we were all really looking forward to it. Then cancer happened and put paid to any thoughts of that. It was fantastic to actually get to do this, the weather was atrocious and made it really tough. ( You can read more about that epic adventure here

So I’ve had to give myself time to recover from the mountains before getting the trainers on again and carrying on with my marathon training.

I only started running again in March, a couple of weeks after my treatment finished.


I can distinctly remember my first attempt, I was really nervous about trying to do any exercise on my own so I made sure I always had a friend with me to begin with. I had no idea how my body would react after 18 months off! I think I managed a mighty 15 minutes’ exercise before I was worn out!

When I was undergoing treatment I tried hard to make sure I got out for walks as often as possible. It helped my mental health as much as my physical health and I felt that I had achieved something.

Sometimes it was a real effort to go and I found just getting to the local shop exhausting. Other times I walked the coastal path and enjoyed the beautiful scenery I am fortunate to have on my doorstep.

Running used to be my way of dealing with stress, now at the most stressful time in my life I didn’t have that outlet, but walking (and blogging!) was the next best thing, a way of clearing my head. It always felt great to be outdoors, after spending a lot of my time in hospital either for appointments or overnight stays for chemotherapy.

When I came home I’d be bed bound for a couple of days, and a few more days stuck on the sofa willing my energy to return. As the year went on I found the side effects of all my treatment building up and I was definitely weaker and often had to cancel plans as I was too tired or in pain.

I was very keen to get back to normality afterwards and start doing all the things I hadn’t been able to do.

Gradually the running got easier, I was stopping less to catch my breath and I was getting further. In April, 6 weeks after treatment finished, I managed the Sports Relief Mile with my daughter. It was so emotional for me, lined up at the start, race number pinned on – I felt like I had come a long way in a short space of time.

I’ll admit I did get some odd looks, the runner with the bald head!

I’ve been going to Parkrun whenever I have the time. It’s great to have such a fantastic free opportunity to run with others and I alternate between the hilly coastal run at Porthcawl and the flat scenic run through Bute park in Cardiff. In September I ran Swansea Bay 10k on a beautiful hot sunny day and loved it!

Alice Roythorne ran the Swansea 10k
Alice Roythorne ran the Swansea 10k


When I had the call from Cancer Research UK
to say my application had been successful, I had a place to run the London marathon, I knew this was my opportunity to say, “actually I’ve changed my mind….” but instead out of my mouth came a confident “Yes sure I’d love to do that”. It’s exciting and terrifying in equal measure!

But now I find myself a bit baffled by it all.

So many training plans, articles on running the perfect marathon (I’ll just be glad to finish, I’m certainly not aiming for perfection!), information on what I should eat, what I should drink, what I should wear.

I never run with music, but that’s because I never run very far. Am I going to need to start doing that to keep myself going further? Do I need to do different training sessions – hills, sprints etc, or just run?

Then there’s the weather to contend with. It’s getting colder, wetter and darker, consequently it’s harder to get motivated! I love to be out in the sunshine but now it’s not so enticing!

This marathon business is a minefield.

Or maybe I just keep on plodding on, adding that extra mile and doing it my way? I’ve deliberately stopped checking my watch when I’m running, time is of no consequence I just need to get the mileage in. I’ve purposely slowed my already snail’s pace down in order that I can just keep going. I’ve found this has worked well so far.

Slow and steady, I’ll get there – eventually!

* Alice’s blog is  Through The Looking Glass… And What Alice Found There

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