An Unexpected Breakthrough

The London 2012 Olympic motto of 'Inspire a generation' did exactly that for me. I remember seeing my hero Tirunesh Dibaba stand on the podium being crowned the Olympic champion for the 3rd time. I couldn't have imagined I would stand next to her on the elite women's start of the Great South Run just four years later. 

I got back into running whilst studying physiotherapy at Brunel University 2010-13. I had some time out the sport with injuries and spending months on crutches. Previously, my greatest achievement had been representing Berkshire at the English Schools cross country, barely scraping into the top 150. 

My journey back into running was season after season of 293rd at the National Cross Country Championships and coming last in the heats of the 5000m BUCS championships in 21 minutes. I rarely got picked for teams, other than the steeplechase becuase I was the only person brave enough to do it. An all-time low was doing a Tom Daley impression falling head first at the final water jump at the BUCS championships. Again, finishing last. 

One Christmas day parkrun in 2014, I unexpectedly broke 20 minutes for 5k (19.41). It was the best Christmas present and the start of my rapid improvement. 2015 was an exciting year for me, coming top 100 in the National Cross and running the magic sub 90 half marathon (85.12). It gave me the championship start qualifying time for the 2016 London Marathon, an ambition I had always dreamed of doing. 

Self-coached and working on calls/10 days shifts at busy acute hospital, I trained hard for my first marathon. With a debut of 2.45, I knew I had found my niche. Teaming up with my coach Rob McKim and the mighty Rob Squad, progress continued over a tough cross country season. My big breakthrough was winning this year's London Marathon mass race, knocking almost 9 minutes off my PB in 2.37.07.  From there, I gained my first England vest and joined the Saucony Hurricanes Racing Team. 

Back in 2012, if you told me I would be where I am now, I wouldn't have believed you. My ultimate ambition back then was to run under 40 minutes for 10k, where I now run quicker and consecutively over a marathon. Marathon running is all about patience and working hard. So dream big, train hard and don't set limitations. Things fall into place when you least expect it.

Follow my journey 

IG: @annaboniface12

Twitter: @AnnaBoniface 


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