for those who love the outdoors

1 July, 2023


The surprising rewards of straying from your lane

Sometimes running outside your comfort zone isn’t entirely intentional. But how else are you going to find out what you’re capable of doing?

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Like many other people, I never really take it seriously whenever I hear the expression ‘Be careful what you wish for’. Mostly because it sounds just too much like another way of telling someone else to stay in their lane. But also because I know that when it comes to runners and their aspirations, I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t wish recklessly. What runner doesn’t like to think about and share their lofty ambitions about someday running a marathon, doing an ultra or taking part in some crazy competition? Of course, I am no different and wonder what it would be like to run in a countless number of changing events. But there’s no harm in imagining doing something really difficult that’s way outside your comfort zone when you are sitting at home, safe in the knowledge that you don’t actually have to do it. That is, unless you somehow foolishly manage to enter something ridiculous…Which is exactly what I did. Yes, I went slightly further than simply wishing when I put my name down to try to qualify for the England Athletics Masters.

This wasn’t part of the plan when I signed up to run the Milton Keynes Marathon. To start with, I have never enjoyed competitions. In fact, I find the idea of racing so utterly overwhelming that it completely stresses me out. Yet despite this fear, I have spent my entire life entering races mostly because I love to run but also because it’s nice to get a medal and a t-shirt for doing it. Fortunately, over the years as I have started to run much further distances, I have discovered that the longer and harder an event is, the less competitive it actually is. Which means that the runners that sprint alongside you in anything longer than a half marathon are more likely to be supporting and encouraging you on rather than trying to strategically elbow you out of the race. So although I had signed up to run the MK Marathon my thoughts weren’t on anything more ambitious than trying to do ok. I had only run one previous in-person marathon before and knew that anything could happen. Even the aim of trying to get a new PB wasn’t very high on my list of priorities.

Marathon 1

However, as the day of the marathon approached, I noticed that the event happened to be one of the qualifying races for the England Masters Team. Although I didn’t know much about it, I didn’t think it was something I could ever do. But since I was also a bit curious I decided to have a quick peek at the website. It turned out that the England Athletics Masters programme was all about giving runners >35yrs the opportunity to take part in different events in a friendly competition where you could also earn an England Age Group Masters vest. Well that sounded rather nice! Kind of like taking part in a running raffle. You just had to register your interest before the marathon and you would get to run with other friendly runners and have the chance of winning an England vest if you qualified. Well, I have always really liked getting race stash...But of course, there was a catch.

First, in order to qualify you would have to meet the Age Group Masters minimum standards which for me was running a sub-4hr00 marathon. Second, you also had to come in the top 3 of all of the other runners trying to qualify in your age category for your race. Okaaay! Well, at first I thought that it might not be completely hopeless. Since I had run 3hr41 in the other marathon it was theoretically possible to do the same. But to also have to make the podium is a whole other thing. The website already displayed a long roster of other runners in my age group trying to qualify for the Masters through the MK Marathon. And it was clear from their recent PBs listed that they were way out of my league. They were proper runners whereas I was just…me. A mum who runs like a T-Rex swinging their little arms. I not only had imposter syndrome; I literally was an imposter because I wasn’t even English! Oh well, I thought. At least I will still get the event t-shirt from running the marathon.

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However, the night before the marathon I kept finding myself still thinking about how nice it would be to get an England vest. But I also knew that it was completely impossible. Then again, I remembered, nobody can predict what will happen on the day. But seriously and more importantly – realistically – it was absolutely ridiculous. Then again, what if?? I would never know if I didn’t put my name down. So foolishly, I did.

By the next morning I had completely forgotten about doing it because I had other things on my mind. Like having to run a marathon. Just trying to get to the start line without having a meltdown was enough to occupy my mind. And like many other runners, I found the MK Marathon very tough going. Despite the fact that the weather was good and the route was very scenic, it didn’t make running the two laps of the course any easier. My low points included having to stop three times to use the loo and at several stages I thought I might be sick. The uphill finish, in particular, was a real killer. I still don’t know how I actually managed to finish because people were dropping like flies at the end. In fact, I was so relieved to finally cross the finish line and stop running that I didn’t even check the time on my watch until I was packing up to leave.

MK marathon

I was completely stunned to see that somehow I had run 3hr37! A new PB! Well I was more than happy enough with that and off I went home feeling incredibly grateful that I never had to run another marathon again. However, much later on in the day my husband looked further into the race results. He said that I’d actually come third in my age category and what a shame that I hadn’t put my name down for the Masters. Of course, I had to then admit that I had. Not only that but the first and second placed runners in my age group hadn’t registered themselves for the Masters. Since I had the fastest time I would definitely qualify.

I couldn’t believe it – the England vest would be mine!! I was going to get 2 t-shirts from this brutal marathon! Yippee!! My kids were also very excited and began to pepper me with questions. What did any of this all mean? I told them what I knew; basically, I would get some England kit. But I also supposed that there might be the chance to run in another event at some point but I didn’t really have to (thank goodness). Which is why some weeks later I was more than a little bit shocked to find out that there was slightly more to it than the vest.

England kit and MK

Congratulations, I read, you have qualified to represent England at the 2023 Chester Marathon this October. WHAT??!!! It went on…The Chester Marathon will be hosting the England Athletics Age Group Masters Marathon Championship. Then it got worse…The Chester Marathon will be a qualifying race for the 2024 Abbott World Marathon Majors Age Group World Championships! I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS?!!!, my brain screamed. Actually, I had…

Which means that I have now found myself having to start training for a marathon again even though I haven’t quite got over how hard the last one was. Because after sitting on this news for some time, I have been persuaded by my children to be brave enough to enter the Chester Marathon. Even though they know that I find just thinking about running the race pretty stressful, they reasoned that I would regret it if I didn’t at least give it a go. They also wisely pointed out to me that I would get an event t-shirt for my efforts because they know my weak spot. Which means that between now and the day I step up to the start line, I have to convince myself that I won’t really be ‘racing’ against anyone. I will be going to Chester simply to enjoy running a marathon in my new vest. I am not even going to let myself think about the chances of qualifying for the Abbott WMM World Championships. Even though a little part of me wonders what kind of t-shirt you would get...

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Ultimately, all of this is to say that when people tell you to be careful what you wish for, they are probably right. However, it is also true that you will never know what you are capable of doing if you always stay in your lane. So don’t be afraid to put your hat in the ring now and then because sometimes things can actually go your way.

Here’s a recipe to help fuel up you for whatever challenge is ahead of you. A bowl of PB & apple granola will keep you going all morning but tastes just as good on a rest day.

PB apple granola 3

Suzanne Anderegg


I am originally from Canada but I settled in the UK after studying at university. Sports have always been a part of my life and I have participated and competed in several throughout my childhood. But today I would describe myself as mostly a runner, a mother of 3 grown-ups and a keen cook. As a teenager I was a sprinter and a slightly reluctant cross-country runner but while my children grew up I started to run further and further distances. I never thought that I could ever run anything longer than a half marathon but when my runner husband decided to do a marathon for his 50th in 2019 I found that I had a serious case of FOMO. My children encouraged me to sign up for my first marathon and I ran it just to see if I could finish. Somehow my time was good enough to qualify for the Boston 2020 Marathon. However, due to Covid it was postponed several times.

Like many other runners, I spent much of my time in the Covid lockdown keeping up my fitness by participating in virtual races while waiting for the real events to start up again. As time went on I found myself becoming fully immersed in the world of endurance running and ran the Threshold Trail Series ultra, Race to the Stones. Unfortunately, by the time the Boston Marathon was finally held in late 2021, I could not go because US travel restrictions were still in place. Although I missed my chance to run it and will now have to requalify again at least my time spent keeping in good shape wasn’t wasted. These days I participate in everything from half marathons up to ultras and have also run the Great Glen Way and West Highland Way in the Scottish Highlands.

I also work as a Registered Nutritionist with children and families and founded the consultancy Just add water® in 2019. I write a blog at to give free information and advice about nutrition and running whilst also sharing some of my favourite healthy recipes. The website is mainly aimed at busy families who want to make easy to prepare meals that are both healthy and really tasty, and for active families who want to know what they should be eating before, during and after playing sport.

I have always enjoyed cooking and previously cooked as a profession and I like to share my passion for good food. I have been involved in teaching cookery in schools, children's centres and for the NHS. I also enjoy entering the odd competition to push myself out of my comfort zone. I was awarded Highly Commended at the Teflon™ Diamond Standard Awards 2020 national culinary competition in the category of Keen Home Cook and was a National Finalist in 2022 & 2019. I have also had my recipes published in The Guardian's supplement, Cook; and featured in the 2012 Waitrose LOVE life calendar (July); and selected for inclusion in the 2020 #AnyWhichWayaBix Weetabix recipe book.

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