Meet the runner -Sarah Dudgeon
I met Sarah and her husband on a wall, waiting for the perfect moment to drop our bags off, before Seville marathon. She looked familiar but I couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't until afterwards that I realised she was Sarah Dudgeon of MarathonTalk fame and owner of Art Of Your Success. Sarah had an amazing race at Seville Marathon running 2 hours and 55 minutes. She kindly agreed to answer some questions about her life, business and running. This is a great blog for all those training to break the 3 hour barrier!
I know you run your business ‘Art of your Success’ - how did you get into this and has it always been a full time job?
After 15 years in Government, mainly working on Climate Change policy, which I really enjoyed, I decided to follow a strong instinct to set up Art Of Your Success. It was an idea I had for years that wouldn’t go away, combining passions and skills for art, design, running & cycling, so I decided to be brave and act on it. Launching and running my own business is a daily marathon, but I’m proud it’s now an eCommerce business that provides gifts and stationery to inspire and celebrate success in people’s training and racing. It’s very satisfying selling products that my customers love and find meaningful to celebrate their own achievements.
What is your favourite product from Art Of Your Success?
One of my favourite products is my training diary. It took a lot of work from idea to completion, to make the ‘ideal’ journal, drawing on sports psychology and journaling elsewhere, and I find it very satisfying that so many people leave a review to say how helpful they find it. Apart from running, people have used it for gym workouts, cycling, cross-training, & even golf.
Why are you a runner?
I started as a way to fit in fresh air and exercise after the structure of team sports at school and university, and to fit in with working long hours. I stayed for all the reasons below, and it’s now an integral part of my life
What motivates you to run?
I’ve realised I have a huge web of motivational reasons for running. It’s being outdoors (I never run on a treadmill), it’s the morning light (I run early). I nearly always get lots of ideas or solve problems on the run. I feel calmer after I run, and more able to tackle the day. Sometimes it’s beautiful routes or exploring a new place, sometimes it’s about talking, sometimes it’s challenging myself to go faster than I thought I could. I get motivation and fulfilment from this wonderful range of qualities that running can bring.
You’ve run a lot of marathons before. How many in total?
I’ve run around 50 marathons, made up of a mix of running for time, for fun or to see somewhere new.
Have you done an ultra before? If not, are you tempted?
I’ve run some trail ‘marathons’ which were 30+ miles, so as a marathon runner, I see that as an ultra ;) I’m very tempted by Comrades Marathon (another marathon title but actually an ultra) in South Africa, and will see if my body and mind fancy any more after that.
Previously you’ve been within seconds of breaking the 3-hour mark on two occasions. This time you absolutely smashed it! Did you do anything differently this time?
Thank you and yes, you’re right on the close calls! My PB was 3:00:04 and I also ran 3:00:28 in the epic headwind & rain of the Boston 2018 Marathon.
This time at Seville 2020, which you also ran, I finished in 2:55:27. I’d say I’ve trained harder and better for the last 2 years but had a day where finally the stars aligned at Seville. I’ve been in similar shape before but had an array of taper/ marathon day shockers, like unlucky weather or injuries, as we all agonisingly experience
What’s made the difference is hard training (who knew?!) Also, having a good plan, not being nervous of the hard sessions, believing I could improve, trying to get some good sleep.
What was a normal week of training in your marathon build up? Did you have a coach?
A normal week of marathon build up training had a speed session, a longer threshold session and a long run, with paced sections on alternate weeks. The rest of the runs were easy, which helped me hit those harder runs better.
Lawrence from RunYour Best Coaching https://www.runyourbest.net/ has been writing my training plans for the last 2 years and providing coaching, leading to my improvement over this time. This compares to writing my own plans and not having coaching, before. I like to plan a lot out in advance, so asked Lawrence to write the whole training programme in one. This was a 9-week block, shortened to 8, as I diverted from Tokyo to Seville less than a week before.
Did you do any supplementary cross training, strength and mobility?
Once a week core strength, and once a week yoga. I’ve done these for years and am sure they help.
Do you follow a special diet? Take any supplements?
No special diet, and I enjoy eating constantly during marathon training. I eat a mix of healthy plus a fair amount of more ‘unhealthy’ snacks. I have a recovery shake after the hard or long sessions, and I take Vitamin D in the winter as I train early before daylight.
Have you got another goal on the horizon?
I’d love to see if I can go a bit faster over the marathon, as well as getting my shorter distance times down a bit as I am slower for shorter distances than my marathon times would suggest. I don’t race a huge amount but will really appreciate every chance when events are allowed to start again.
How has your life changed since lockdown?
Not too much. I’ve been running once early, then working from home. If anything, I’ve worked extra hours, as I have less on in the evenings.
I normally have a lot of work and products connected to people running mass participation events, so it was alarming when that stopped. Luckily, I have other areas that have stepped up, particularly multifunctional headwear (or ‘buffs’) which lots of people are using as non-medical face masks right now.
After Roger Bannister broke 4 minutes for the mile, the barrier was no longer there. Sometimes the sub 3 marathon can seem like that for runners. How have you approached it mentally? Will your approach to running or goals change going forwards?
I’d reconciled myself to 3:00:04 as a really respectable time, near enough to achieving 2:59:59 over a marathon. My mental approach was if I ever broke 3 hours, it needed to be a step change to leave it behind. Taking off a couple of seconds just to slip under a time that I was so close to, didn’t particularly motivate me.
In future, I’d keep my internal focus, as it’s easy for other people to suggest goals, but you have to personally really want something for it to motivate you. I’d also keep self-belief. It would be easy to think that as a 43-year-old who’s run so many marathons, that I couldn’t improve more. I’ll keep quietly believing in myself.
Any running books you’d like to recommend?
Recently, I thought Deena Kastor’s ‘Let Your Mind Run - a memoir of thinking my way to victory’ was much more than a fascinating running story. She is very insightful on her mental techniques which we could all use. I tried a few out when I was training, although I need more practice to get them really working well.
You can find Sarah and Art of Your Success here: