An intrepid young woman from London has set herself a target of completing the London Marathon on Sunday (23 April) despite giving herself only six weeks to train.
Madeleine Matthews (24), a risk consultant for Deloitte LLP, will undertake this mammoth task in aid of the national learning disability charity, Hft, where her mum is Chief Executive.
Madeleine has never run a race before but decided in January to start training for a marathon although she didn’t pick it up properly until the end of February.
“I moved to London from Wiltshire in September 2022 and found I was struggling to motivate myself to keep fit or get outdoors whilst adjusting to both a new city and working full-time in a new job.
“I’m the kind of person who thrives on structure and having a goal so I decided to set myself a target and commit myself to a plan I had to stick to. I never intended for it to be as intense as a full marathon – I was thinking initially of a half marathon as I’ve never even done a 10k before – but a friend in London had previously signed up for a marathon abroad and she persuaded me to start training with her.”
Before taking on this challenge, the only casual running Madeleine had done was when she wanted fresh air or to clear her head. She has, however, always been very active, having ridden horses competitively when she was younger and then rowing for St Andrews University, competing in regional and national competitions as both a novice and a senior. She is also a keen hiker and, while at university, was lucky enough to get out in the Highlands regularly.
“However, other than hiking and the gym, I have not done any sports regularly since the pandemic hit, which is one of the reasons I was so keen to find something active to focus on.
“I started running again in January but have only been training regularly for the marathon since the end of February. I have been following a personalised, structured plan which has been invaluable to my training and progression, as I definitely wouldn’t be anywhere near the level of fitness I am now without it.
“My brother is in the Royal Marines and is incredibly knowledgeable about fitness, so I have been grateful for all of his tips and advice throughout, especially about nutrition and kit.”
Madeleine’s biggest struggle has been about trying to build up her body’s resilience to the significant increase in mileage, and she has struggled with the physical strain on her legs.
“The mental side of it has also been a huge challenge, especially on those long runs, and it’s proved to me that running really is as much of a mental battle as a physical one. This is when having such a clear purpose and cause to be running for has helped.”
The fact that her mum is Hft’s CEO was the main reason she was inspired to continue with her arduous training.
“My mum is my biggest inspiration in life and, from a young age, has taught me so much about strength and resilience, as well as being proof that I could achieve whatever I wanted if I set my mind to it and worked hard.
“She took on the position at Hft while I was still living at home in lockdown, so I learnt about the charity alongside her and gained a deep understanding of the work she did and the impact the whole charity has on so many families.
“It is an amazing charity and it is clear how hard everyone within it works against such significant challenges so being able to do something to contribute really means a lot. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come in such a short time, and I’m really excited to see what I’m able to achieve on the day.”
Her mum, Kirsty, said:
“Madeleine has always been interested in all the roles I have held throughout her younger years, but she has been really touched by the nature of the work we do at Hft.
“During the lockdown, she often heard me on calls to people we support through various events and shared my journey to understand what it meant to live with a learning disability and the challenge of genuinely being able to live the best life possible. I am immensely proud of Madeleine’s resilience and determination to run the marathon for Hft; every step she and all our team of runners take will help us get closer to delivering our ambitions for Hft. Just keep running!”
Madeleine has already raised £800. If you would like to help her reach her target of £1,650, please visit her JustGiving page.