Chester the Squirrel 2016

I'm James and I’m really excited to be running the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon with you all as Chester the Squirrel. I started running in 2003 when I decided to take on a running challenge whilst raising money for charity. And so my love affair with running was ignited.Chester blog picture

I've been a regular runner for the past 3 years, running 3 or 4 times a week. My interest and commitment started by finding parkrun and then going on to join my running club, Maidstone Harriers.

This year I'm aiming to run 12 marathons, 6 down, 6 to go! Running the Royal Parks Half as Chester the Squirrel is going to be a whole different experience. I know it's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to all the fun that goes with it too! It will be incredible to know that I am running to help support the amazing work the Royal Parks Foundation do in conserving some of London’s fabulous green spaces whilst educating and inspiring children about the natural world around them.

I’ve compiled some of my top tips to help you on your way to super squirrel stardom at this year’s Royal Parks Half so check them out here!

During your training:

  • Mix up your running routes and run with friends to make your training interesting. 
  • Try cross training - like swimming, cycling or spinning, this builds core strength, which will help you maintain a good posture later in the race when your legs are feeling tired. It can also help prevent injuries.
  • If this is your first half marathon or a return to running then build up the miles gradually. Enter some other local races if you're not used to mass participation running. There are lots of 10k and 10 mile races which will give you the experience you need.
  • Get running support on social media by joining the Team Squirrel Facebook page  and sharing your training adventures. If you’re on Twitter you can follow and let me know how you're doing - I'm there as: @Diamondlitefoot 
  • Tell people what you're up to as your training progresses and make sure you remind them that you’re fundraising to help the Royal Parks Foundation keep the Royal Parks alive.
  • Practise running in your race day gear - don't try anything new on race day! 

On race day:

  • Turn up a bit early to allow time for last minute drinks, a banana (or whatever you eat before running) and a trip to the loo, there will be queues!
  • Don't go off too fast! It's easy to get swept along with the crowd - know your pace and what you can comfortably achieve. It's a half marathon so there's plenty of time to speed up during the second half and have a strong finish if you've got energy to spare.
  • During the race, if the going gets tough, use positive language and tell yourself "I've got this!" Or whatever works for you. Remind yourself why you're scampering around the wonderful Royal Parks and past all of those historic landmarks.
  • Most importantly, soak up the atmosphere, remember to take time to enjoy the experience - you've worked hard for this!