Chief Executive Officer
TIME: 2 hours, 15 minutes, 31 seconds
“Taking part inspires you and teaches you something about yourself."
Why did you decide to do the half marathon?
I decided to do the Vitality Big Half because it’s a lovely place to run – the clear roads make it feel special. I also want to support the Royal Hospital team.
Have you done anything similar before?
I’ve run six or seven marathons and two ultra marathons – one was 53 miles and the other was 62 miles.
I started running because I got bored walking the dog and started running with him. At first, I couldn’t even run across a field, but I gradually started running regularly. I love running in the countryside. It’s good for how I feel too: it clears my head and I get some of my best ideas – although my staff might not agree!
My first marathon was in about 2010. At the time, I was jogging regularly and came across Derek, a large gentleman from my village. He told me he was training for the London marathon, so I thought – I’ve got no excuse. I ended up arriving really late for the London marathon and had to get changed on the Docklands Light Railway! I ended up running right at the back, behind all the furry animals. There was an amazing atmosphere and it was a great way to see London with no traffic. Later, I saw Derek and he’d had a great time – children were giving him sweets and ladies were dancing with him.
“You feel connected with nature and people”
I’m always looking for nice places to run. I’ve done the Cheltenham marathon, the Edinburgh marathon, where you go along the coast twice, and the Loch Ness marathon which was absolutely lovely. The South Downs was beautiful – there’s something very special about running in the dark on the chalk downs.
You see incredible people too. The elite runners are like gods, but you also see people who you wouldn’t think could run for the bus making the commitment and running in memory of someone. Marathons are very inclusive – you see people pushing others in wheelchairs. You feel connected with nature and with people.
How have you been preparing?
When I’m getting ready for a marathon I run before I come to work so I’m up at 4.15am or I run after work at 9 in the dark. My wife doesn’t want me to do another one!
I like food, so when I’m training I do a month of weight reduction with slow runs and I watch my diet, making sure I’m eating good stuff. I do strength training, then speed training – otherwise you get stuck in a slow groove. You need to vary what you do. Core work is important, it supports you and gives you spring – so I do planks, press ups, sit ups and weight training. Recovery and rest are important. I go to bed at nine towards the end of training and make sure I get at least eight hours sleep.
GARY’S TOP TRAINING TIPS
- Do speed training as well as strength training so you don’t get caught in a slow groove.
- Vary what you do.
- Get at least eight hours sleep a night.
What are your hopes and goals?
My hope is that I don’t disgrace myself! I’d like to get as near to two hours as possible and to raise at least £500. I want the team to have a great time. We’re all from different parts of the organisation and we’ll learn about each other and get to know people from a different angle. I admire people who put themselves out physically. It also ties in with the Royal Hospital’s push to encourage Pensioners to stay active and look after themselves.
What are you looking forward to least – and most?
The people inspire you. Taking part teaches you something about yourself too and that you impose limits on yourself that can be broken through. It’s a lovely place to run too.