Andrew Walker Manchester Marathon

At the start of the year, our fearless leader, Andrew Walker, decided to take part in the 2019 Manchester Marathon.

He wanted to raise money for his charity Hand on Heart to support their great cause of putting defibrillators in schools to help reduce the high mortality rate of young people dying of sudden cardiac arrest every week.

He was one of the 20,000 runners who took part in the marathon on April 7th 2019 and managed to raise a whopping £1,126.20 for his efforts!

Throughout January, February and April he (attempted to) put himself through vigorous training to prepare for the 26 miles that he would have to muscle his way through. He made sure to record his thoughts on his training up to the day of the marathon in a series of diaries that he published on LinkedIn. We’ve compiled them all for you here so that you can see how he totally smashed those 26 miles!

January 2019 – T-minus 97 days to the Marathon

Manchester Marathon January

I’ve never run a marathon. And I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.

Part dare, part charity, part challenge, running the Manchester Marathon 2019 has become a little more than I expected it to be. I knew my knees would be knackered in the training, even without getting to the marathon itself. But who can honestly say they enjoy this?

Inspiration for taking part has firmly come from those who are inspired to run to help people. Something as simple as running (I’ve quickly come to discover this isn’t so simple!), with the aim of supporting a charity, is something I’ve always found admirable.

The act itself, running, isn’t so difficult – the distance is of course the obstacle and one that I will need to overcome in order to help my charity of choice, Hand on Heart.

Formed in 2010, Hand on Heart was founded with the aim of placing life saving defibrillators in schools and raising awareness of cardiac arrest in young people.

In 2012, HOH became a recognised charity (No: 1145316) and their mission only became stronger – to help overcome the alarming statistic that 12 young people die of sudden cardiac arrest each week in the UK.

As a human being that is shocking, and one that unfortunately, is a situation where cardiac arrest has no pre-emptive signs. It’s not something you can monitor and prevent before it happens. Aside from living well, balancing a diet, exercising regularly – but even then, it can happen.

All we can do is be as prepared as we possibly can to help someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest. And that comes from the placement of public access defibrillators and the prevalence of first aid training.

Hand on Heart has now helped train over 20,000 school children in CPR and the use of a defibrillator.

In the first of a three part blog, I’m going to shed some light on the trials and tribulations of a Managing Director training for their first (and last) marathon. The ups and downs, the so-called ‘runners-high’, fiery lungs, gel shots and a healthy runners diet…


January 1st

Target Training miles: 40

Miles achieved: 19.9

Training has started well, less than 100 days to the marathon… no training and carrying that inevitable post-Christmas weight. Wonderful!

January 8th

Distance covered: 4.4 miles & 2 miles

The distance from home to work is roughly 8 miles, I covered about 4.5 miles before my legs gave up. Needless to say I couldn’t climb the stairs to the office! I hid under my desk for a good couple of hours whilst I let my lungs return to their original form and massaged my legs enough so I could begin to feel again.

Ambitious as I was, I attempted to run home the same evening and managed 2 miles before feeling like my legs belonged to a 90 year-old man. Had to stop at a petrol station for an emergency chocolate bar. I walked the remainder of the journey home, leaving me plenty of time to question what I had gotten myself into.

January 10th

Distance covered: 5.5 miles

January 10th was my first experience of running with Kelle ‘The Machine’ McQuade. Here’s a woman who, when marathon training, sprints a total distance of 24-40 miles a WEEK in either 3 or 4 runs, depending on how she’s feeling... ‘I can keep up no problem!’ I thought, ‘I used to play for Newcastle.’

The positive news was my lungs were still in my chest, but my legs were completely shot.

January 15th

Distance covered: 3.9 miles & 8 miles

Ran to the TQUK office once more, my legs held up but my lungs were dreadful. I’m blaming it on the easterly breeze I was running into. Had to take refuge in the office shower room for a short while whilst I warmed up and my breathing recovered.

Managed to run home that evening without stopping, meaning I completed the 8 mile route for the first time, success! Inspiration for that first full run home, you ask? I run past 4 schools on the way home. And I think to myself, that’s 4 schools worth of children that potentially could be helped by me running, and you lot donating to see me run of course!

Regretted it the next morning, couldn’t get out of bed. This only reinforced the feeling I had previously, the idea of running a marathon is better than actually doing it.

January 19th

Distance covered: 6.5 miles

Do running gels work? You bet they do! A nice Saturday afternoon paved the way for what I can safely say was the first ‘feel good’ run of my training so far, the isotonic gel worked a treat and kept the old legs going for a few more miles. Perhaps this is the first sign of that ‘runners high’ I’ve heard people go on about? Can’t wait to get out and do this again…

Illness (can’t-be-bothered-itus) and a swift half pint meant that training was called off for 2 weeks…

February 2019 – T-minus 66 days to Marathon

Manchester Marathon February

Target Training miles: 100

Miles achieved: 44.4

Two-week training hiatus over.

February 6th

Distance covered: 5.5 miles

Good run after work with Quality Manager Paul, he's 10 years younger than me, keeps himself fit. And you know, he’s one of those who can just get up and go, no training required – grinds my gears that!

So, for an ‘older man’, I think I kept up well with him. Unfortunately, I was too out of breath to correct him on some of his views…

February 9th

Distance covered: 7.5 miles

I’ve escaped the house early and managed to get in a Saturday morning run to start the weekend - felt okay and a decent time considering I seemed to be always running into the wind.

My pants are starting to feel a little lighter and like I've got a bit of room around the waist so that’s a bonus and a sign I must be doing something right.

Trying to stay healthy on the diet front. Staying alcohol free is a challenge with the work local, The Volunteer, right next door to the office. Tom’s pre 5-a-side football meal consisted of 3 pints when we played in the Powerleague last year, swore by it. I’m yet to see the benefits of alcohol and training myself.

February 13th

Distance covered: 9.1 miles

Evening run after work with Paul again, he can stride like a bloody gazelle! We didn’t really set a target distance, but the legs started to go after 9 miles. And that was that. I think I'm doing too much, maybe I need to cut down on the training!

February 16th

Distance covered: 11.5 miles

Saturday morning run. Went to see some friends in Lymm and I thought it would be a good idea to run home after eating a load of cheese on toast and coffee... mistake! It wasn’t the best preparation for my longest run to date! But, it was my longest run to date at 11.5 miles.

February 17th

Distance covered: 0 miles


February 24th

Distance covered: 10.8 miles

My first run with my running partner for the marathon, our Kath.

Biathlons, Triathlons, Swimming Pennington Flash, you name it, Kath has done it. Who better to help me through the Manchester Marathon?

Kath has been telling me for months she’s not very quick... I'm never going to believe anything she says ever again! We seem to be good together. Potential for the best sporting partnership since Cole and Yorke.

Kath asks me as were finishing the circuit we put together, "so do you think you could run the loop again now if you had to?" Errrrrrm, NO!

Need to crank up the miles in March, not long to go!

March 2019 – T-minus 45 days to Marathon

Manchester Marathon March

Target Training miles: 120

Miles achieved: 41.14

March 3rd

Distance covered: 13.60 miles

Morning run with our Kath around part of the marathon route. Apparently, great athletes visualise their success before it happens, this was my attempt of this theory. Needless to say, this didn’t work!

March 10th

Distance covered: 11.7 miles

Morning run once more, this time in the rain. Got to love some wet weather training, right? Having to jump over puddles and avoiding being splashed was the main aim of this run. And I failed miserably on both accounts. Soaking wet through, I had to stop due to a bad hip, really not looking forward to the marathon now!

March 17th

Distance covered: 15.5 miles

Sunday morning ‘big run’ with Kath, started well until the wind picked up. Running uphill on the A580 into a big wind was not pleasant. We took cover in Subway to warm up. This, as it turned out, was the last big run before the big day.

March 24th

Distance covered: 0.34 miles

Saturday morning effort and I can’t really call it a run. Managed 0.34 of a mile before injury stopped me in my tracks… the dreaded metatarsal injury struck. I have been added to the list of superstars to suffer a crushing metatarsal injury at the peak of performance, Beckham, Rooney, Walker.

With just 14 days until race day, it’s time to wrap the foot in cotton wool and hope for the best, a tall order just got taller.

April 2019 – The Mighty Marathon

Manchester Marathon April

April 7th - Race Day

Weather: Overcast/Good

Temperature: Warm/Getting Warmer

Training: Poor/Got Poorer

Met with my fellow runners, our Kath and Ady, outside a glorious, sun-drenched Old Trafford under the holy trinity statue (Law, Best and Charlton) and made our way to the start line. After being ushered into our pen, we found ourselves in front of a guy with a ‘100 club’ vest on, turns out this was his 198th marathon – that’s not a typo, nutter!

Do my final checks: fully lubed up - check, Vaseline everywhere to stop chafing - check, 5 running gels – check, 4 Nurofen ready – check. All set.

Enter Kelle ‘The Machine’ McQuade (or Machine Gun Kelle) straight out of left field. She signed up for the marathon in secret – if I didn’t just have friendly competition on my mind, I now had office bragging rights to play for. ‘Should have trained harder,’ I thought.

Lights out

0 – 15 miles

Good start, then we hit the “wall” everyone had warned me about. It was difficult to decide which part of my body was hurting the most: hip, knees, ankles or toenails? I never knew that toenails could hurt and around the 5-mile mark we passed a man holding a sign which read: ‘Toenails are overrated.’ Now I know why!

I’d already exceeded my limit of painkillers and had one gel left to go…

15 - 26 miles

I knew in my head that I would start to really struggle around the 16-mile mark, this now being the furthest that I had ever run before.

Tough, this has certainly become the most difficult endurance sport I’ve been involved in. The weather turned on us and heated up, the crowds got bigger but the pain got worse.

Final gel consumed, we stumbled on towards the finish…

Finish Line

Crossing the finishing line was a bizarre emotion, on one hand, it was sheer relief and on the other, my body didn’t feel like it was my own.

Feeling a little delirious, I’m putting this down to the probable Nurofen overdose and excessive gel consumption. My legs wanted to keep running, my hips and knees felt like they were about to give way – but by hook or by crook – I’ve done it. Didn’t beat Kelle though…

And Rest

4 pints and a pizza later, I’m glad I’m not in work tomorrow!

Marathon Time: 4 hours 45 mins

Thanks to everyone who took the time to sponsor me in aid of Hand on Heart. Your kind donations are going to a very worthwhile cause.

I think my marathon running days are over… or are they?


We hope you enjoyed that insight into the vigorous training our MD went through as he prepared for the Manchester Marathon!

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See you out there!