Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Inside the mind of a marathon addict: “I've completed more than 20 races and I'm still running”


If 'running a marathon' has made its way on to your to-do list yet again this year, then take a leaf out of Stylist reader, Lisa Lord's, book. With 20 marathons under her belt and a few more booked in for 2016, the running fanatic, 36,  from Chester shares her motivations and explains the highs and lows of being addicted to marathons… 

Lisa and Benson

Lisa and her dog Benson – she will often train with one of her three dogs

When I was 25 I was unfit, a bit overweight and smoked and drank too much.

My friend Lesley and I decided to challenge each other to do a 5k Race For Life as an incentive to get fit, so we started going to the gym and working up to the distance on the treadmill. After we’d completed a gym session, we’d reward ourselves with a cigarette.

Once I ran Race For Life, I was back to my old ways – I didn’t really feel like I had a goal to work towards anymore.

Then, in 2001, the worst happened: my brother died.

Lee was 33 and super fit. It happened while he was out on a training run – he died of cardiomyopathy, sometimes called sudden death syndrome. His death left a gaping hole in my life and I began suffering with depression.

When I got engaged to my now-husband, I gave up smoking and started running again to help stay focused. Running helped perk me up when I was having a particularly dark day and soon running a marathon made its way onto my bucket list. 


Running gave Lisa the incentive to cut down on drink and give up smoking

The thought of running twice as far as I’d ever run filled me with fear. But I knew that, after we lost my brother Lee, I had to make the most of the time I have.

For the five months before the race, I ran five times a week as I was determined to make a sub four-hour time. It was May 2010 and when the day finally came it was a balmy 25C. I managed the first 16 miles before I had to walk to the finish line.

I really thought I wouldn’t make it. I finished in 4:24 and was physically and mentally drained.

I saw my husband and burst into tears – part elation, part disappointment I hadn’t made my goal time. Either way, I’d run my first marathon and the support, both from locals clapping me on in the street and from my friends and family, gave me such a boost.

I dedicated it to Lee, and raised more than £1,000 for Cardiomyopathy UK. 

After I’d recovered, I was determined to run another to see if I could make my goal time – I really felt a sense of loss that I hadn’t made it.  

Berlin Medal

Lisa with her medal after running the Berlin Marathon in 2015

Run on

It took another eight months before I garnered the momentum to start running again, but in May 2012, two years after my first, I ran my second marathon at Lake Windemere. While running through the beautiful scenery, I changed my mind about goal times and decided to simply enjoy the experience.  

Since then, I’ve run 18 marathons.

Each one is different. There are lots of factors that can affect the toughness of a marathon: terrain, weather, if you have slept enough in the run up to the race, how you’re feeling on the day (both mental and physically), whether you have brought the right kit for the conditions and - obviously -whether you have trained well enough for what you’re about to put yourself through.

In August, I ran four marathons in four days in Donegal in Ireland. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.

The Wall

Lisa before running 69 miles in Rat Race the Wall ultra marathon through Hadrian's Wall country in 2014

Negativity invariably creeps in at some stage in every single marathon. Sometimes, I get halfway round a course and think to myself, “why the hell am I putting myself through this?” But I have a way of flipping that in my mind now into a positive.

Once I hit 20 miles, I know I’m less than an hour from finishing the race and that’s a good place to be, even though those miles are usually the hardest. I tell myself that I’m strong and to keep on pushing because every step I take is a step closer to the finish line. I live by the phrase: “pain is temporary, pride is forever.”

If all my self-motivation techniques fail, I start to think about the nice food I can have at the end. 

Training techniques

I try to run regularly, which makes training for a race a lot easier. I use a plan I found online which helps me structure my training. I do one long run a week and four or five smaller runs with my dogs. Adding hill sessions and interval training also helps with endurance.

I also have regular sports massages to help recover – but they’re not usually pleasant experiences. I once accidentally kicked my therapist during a session but he said it wasn’t the first time someone had reacted in that way! 


Lisa running in the sweltering heat in the Dubai marathon 2015

Old wives’ tales

One of my biggest bug bears is when people assume that because I run I have bad knees. But, actually, but studies have shown that if runners are sensible and have worked up to the distances they run gradually then they are no more at risk than a non-runner.

Health-wise, I drink less, I’ve quit smoking and I’ve got strong muscles – but most-importantly, running has helped beat my depression. That's why Mind is the main charity I support through my races. I've made a lot of friends and raised a lot of money for them over the years – the work they do is so important and it's vital to raise awareness of mental health issues.

In 2013, I suffered from chest pains and the doctor told me to stop running until a cause could be determined. It meant I had to defer my place in the London marathon which I’d waited five years to secure. I was devastated - I felt like I had nothing to look forward to, nothing to aim for, I felt empty.

Luckily though, further tests showed I’d pulled the intercostal muscle in my chest and my heart was fine, so I entered the Chester marathon and began training straight away. Nothing was going to stop me running a marathon that year.

Still to come

I have 10 marathons booked so far this year. Chances are I’ll do a lot more than those already planned. My goal is to reach 100 marathons one day. Until then, I’ll keep on running.

Lisa and her running buddies

Lisa and her running buddies

Lisa's favourite...

Marathon tune:

Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine – it helped dig me out of a deep hole during my first ever marathon and always has a positive effect on me when I hear it.

Training tune:

I listen to anything upbeat. My guilty pleasure is Anything by Goldie Lookin Chain – it cracks me up and spurs me on. I also like to listen to audio books and comedy to keep me going.

Running gadget:

I always use my Garmin running watch – it tracks your activity while you’re on a run and you can link it to to the Garmin Connect online to analyse your performance over time. But many people like apps such as Runkeeper and MapMyRun, which can be really useful and are free to use. 



Cuddle core: bunny yoga is the latest fitness trend to go viral


The best new gym wear to motivate you this winter


Now you can learn stiletto self defence


Meet the woman who sea swam 17 hours in memory of her best friend


Are you a fidgeter? It could be a good thing

Cathy brown.jpg

Meet the women battling sexism to fight for a living


How to stay motivated to exercise in winter

anna wyatt.JPG

The random act of kindness that helped this woman overcome anorexia


The best Nancy Drew quotes for all moments in life


Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Drinking alcohol can help with foreign language skills, study finds

Anyone for a dash of Dutch courage?

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

Muggles can attend the Harry Potter Yule Ball in the actual Great Hall

You even get your own wand!

by Megan Murray
19 Oct 2017

Walking for just 17 minutes a day has a dramatic effect on your health

Want to prolong your life? A bit of gentle exercise is better than none at all

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

SATC writer admits the team argued over Carrie's unrealistic lifestyle

“I like my money where I can see it – hanging in my closet”

by Megan Murray
19 Oct 2017

WhatConsentMeansToMe hashtag sparks vital conversation on Twitter

“No matter what I wear, no matter what you think – no means no”

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

The Netflix shows you’re most likely to devour in 24 hours

You, my friend, are a ‘binge racer’

by Nicola Colyer
18 Oct 2017

There’s a psychological reason you’re in love with Starbucks’ red cups

It’s not just because Christmas is coming

by Gemma Crisp
18 Oct 2017

Have a wonderfully macabre Christmas with this anti-advent calendar

Bah humbug

by Megan Murray
18 Oct 2017