November 12, 2021, by Dr. Meghan Gray

Lom’s marathon plans

Guest post by Lom Machin. Lom is a first year Physics BSc student, and they are taking on the challenge of running the 2022 London marathon in partnership with Karnival — the Students’ Union fundraising organisation — and the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Is there a word for excited and terrified in equal measure? Something you’ll lose sleep over but wake with a smile on your face. The extra adrenaline might be useful, because I’m running the 2022 London Marathon! This prestigious 26.2-miler is one of the most famous races in the world, meaning it’s unlikely (1/26 was the last statistic I heard quoted) to get a place through public ballot. Instead, I applied to run for a charity: Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

I have never been ‘the sporty one’, likely a common experience for many Physics students. I’ve done years of pantomime and dance, played tenor horn in a brass band, and worked at a bakery, at a chippy, in an ice-cream van and in fast food, but not once had I chosen to run anywhere… until a fateful day I embarked on couch to 5k with a 30-second-run-five-minute-walk foray into the unknown. And then – I was hooked.

When you think of running, your mind probably goes to 100m sprints, to the hated school mile and to the ominous red oval of an athletics track. As it turns out though, when you find your own style, running is an incredible tool for relaxation. Although I’m studying in Nottingham, my home turf is Devon, jogging down country lanes where the only noise is birdsong, the tap-tap-tap of your shoes and the occasional disgruntled birdwatcher if you’re out too early. Even the less objectively peaceful roads of Beeston still provide endless pathways and cut-throughs to explore at my only-just-faster-than-walking, comfortable pace. When I’m running, there’s no room for anything else in my head; lectures to be done, that coursework I might have got wrong, the fact I forgot to buy new batteries for my calculator: when Strava goes on, worries go off. I can’t recommend enough that, at least once, you find a simple route, set off slow, and just see where a jog takes you.

I’m much more a gentle jogger than a ‘proper runner’ per se, so why a marathon? Why take on a challenge that infamously requires so long to train for, while in the midst of settling in to a new routine in a new place?

I say: why not? Everyone finds their peace in different ways, and for me, I know that the excuse and motivation to jog a little further every week will only make me happier. Plus, with the London Marathon pushed back to October, the bulk of my training will be in holidays, rather than clashing with uni work. It is, of course, not just about me. Meningitis and septicaemia can affect anyone anywhere, disproportionately affecting young people (including students) and can kill in hours. Over five million people are affected globally every year, one of whom was my mum. It’s not all bleak – MRF are working with the World Health Organisation to enact a global plan to defeat meningitis by 2030, involving prevention everywhere possible, timely diagnosis, treatment and support. I hope that my efforts can help raise money to save lives, so please check out for some more info.

What about the marathon itself? All the lab diary work is coming into its own as I create my own ‘marathon lab diary’: kit needed, training plans, energy gels etc. (All of this is out of my own pocket, so every penny donated goes directly to charity.) I’ve got a half-marathon in January to practise my training strategy – I’m mainly hoping to discover that I don’t need to do speed training at all! If you’ve got any questions (or marathon tips!), don’t hesitate to email, and please don’t forget to have a glance at Any and all support is so important and appreciated. Now, I’m off for a run!


Posted in Student LifeUndergraduates