Skin health expert Louise Thomas-Minns is getting ready to take part in her first marathon this weekend…in Paris. In her first column for Folk Features, she gives a very honest account of training, injury and how the aim is to get round safely and finish with a smile on her face – and to raise money for Norfolk and Waveney Mind
I can remember my first ‘run’. It was the start of a love/hate relationship that was fuelled by the goal of changing my lifestyle, losing weight pre-wedding, and proving to myself that ‘I don’t run, I hate running’. It was 2002 and it was on a treadmill in a gym. My PT at the time was given the task of helping me find my fitness again (lost in my early 20s to a poor lifestyle and a stressful job in the world of international skin care) and help me to drop a few dress sizes before my wedding.
Something then took over, this intrigue that I could stay on this machine for a bit longer, go faster and further and then, maybe, have the confidence to take it out onto the road. So that was how it started and how an unhealthy addiction to this sport began with little knowledge then on how hard I was pushing and under fuelling my body.
On and off I have ran ever since, choosing to stop whilst pregnant and then slowly bringing it back into my life along with Pilates and strength training in the eight years that have followed. My attitude now is much healthier, with the goal of staying fit, healthy, strong, and empowering my seven-year-old daughter Maggie.
I was never interested in running races until two years ago, during the lockdowns (my reason to get out, escape the world and dream as I ran) and inspired by some brilliant female friends around me who were smashing races and goals in their early 40s.
So, I started to dabble. The first was a 10km (great for confidence building) then there were three half-marathons last year, each one a very different experience and each time learning more and more about my body, the science and absolute need for correct fuelling (no wonder I was struggling in my twenties!) and the joy, yes joy of being outside in nature. My husband and I gave ourselves the challenge of running the Norfolk Coastal Path (we have 15 miles left to go) and giving us a great excuse to take a day out to switch off and reset.
Roll forward to four weeks ago and reaching the end of a big marathon training block, guided by a brilliant coach/physio, my goal being the Paris Marathon on Sunday April 2.
This was the one I wanted to dip my toe into. Its appeal? The beauty of Paris in the Spring, running across the French capital’s most famous avenues and plazas, from the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, where we, (me and my husband Ian – I roped him in, too) take the start, towards the Place de la Concorde. From the Rue de Rivoli we will then sweep through the Opéra Garnier, the Place de la Bastille. After a glimpse of greenery in the Bois de Vincennes, views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower point the way home.
At nearly the end of that big training block, I felt that sinking feeling of picking up an injury, the week after I had decided to turn this into a run of meaning, to raise money for Norfolk and Waveney Mind, and to put myself and ‘it’ out there. I suspended my run training.
I come from a place of positivity, of drive and determination – something I have had to pull on many times over the last 18 years of being in business, with the highs and many lows of trying to get the skin care range to launch. What did I lean on during those times? My running – the one thing I needed now to help my headspace – and I couldn’t do it.
So here I am writing this with a couple of days to go, having not ran since and holding onto the fact that I have been able to bike and strength train; and have been given guidance, treatment, support and rehab by physios, my coach, my husband and my brilliant friends in the running community, to help me plan my trip and my marathon.
With some caveats in place, I have to give this a shot, to try my best, and to now adopt a run/walk plan with my new goal ‘to get round safely and finish with a smile on my face’.
My husband is race ready; and we have some great sponsorship building, for this brilliant charity. I will be thinking about many people during my experience who are close to me and facing tough challenges to keep me focused on that goal. It would mean so much if you could help us grow our fundraising by sponsoring us for whatever you can afford. In the meantime, #passmeacroissant…
Featured image: Louise Thomas-Minns and her husband Ian have set themselves the challenge of running the Norfolk Coastal Path