Jenni Falconer: ‘Running a marathon burns about 2,500 calories’

Hello! What have you been up to recently? It’s been a busy year so far as I am trying to juggle work, hanging out with my toddler and marathon training. The latter seems to be the most exhausting, but all the long runs will be over on 13 April … at which point I start focusing on the London Duathlon on 14 September. This year is about challenges for me. I’m also part of a relay team in the London Triathlon in August. I think I may have eaten one too many mince pies at Christmas and now I am trying to burn them off by signing up to events!

Where is your favourite place to run – and why? I love running in London. I live in the capital and run home from Heart when I finish my radio show. It is so quiet on a Sunday morning in central London, and so beautiful. Despite living here, I always feel like a tourist and often stop to take a pic of Buckingham Palace or Big Ben. Running by the river is always refreshing – but I do prefer it when the sun is shining. London is so varied, too – there is the crowded feel of central London, with the amazing, world-famous landmarks, but there are also all the stunning parks, which tend to be overlooked. Regents park, Hyde park and my favourite, Richmond park, are so beautiful. Richmond park always surprises people because of its sheer size – seven miles round the edge. I run there a lot, and this is where the London Duathlon will take place. It’s also lovely to go for a walk, and we go there a great deal with our dog Alfie – he loves it. Our daughter loves deer-spotting there too.
Do you remember your first ever race? My first race was in Leeds in Roundhay park. It was a women’s 5k. I fell over in the first few minutes and as a result was injured for a few weeks. I had only recently taken up running, so this was highly annoying! My next race was the London Marathon in 2009. I thought I might as well cut to the chase and dive straight in at the deep end.
How did you fare? I completed my first marathon in 3hr 53min 3sec. I ran again a few months after having my daughter in 2012 and completed in 3hr 53min 1 sec. I beat my time by two seconds!
What’s your greatest running achievement? I have actually run the London Marathon three times in total. 2010 was my PB; I completed in 3:31:01. It would be my dream to beat that. I also completed the Royal Parks half marathon that year in 1:35. That was definitely my fittest year!

When someone asks for a training tip, what do you tell them? Put Vaseline on your feet to avoid blisters, definitely invest in the right trainers and most importantly train. Don’t think you can just rock up on the day because it will be harder than you think! Also, I wore the wrong trainers when I went hill running in 2013 and sustained an injury as a result – consequently I had to withdraw from the marathon that year.

Do you like running gadgets? I use my iPhone to listen to music and I also use a Garmin to track my distance and monitor my speed. I haven’t used it at all this year in training, but will definitely use it on marathon day as it keeps me on track. It’s amazing because it tells you how many calories you’ve burned as well. Disappointingly, the marathon is only about 2500 calories. But I always seem to run an extra quarter of a mile on the day.

Do you run to music? What do you listen to? I have a ‘running mix’ which I continuously add songs to. My current favourite running tracks are the Killers’ Mr Brightside, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen and Pompeii and Laura Palmer by Bastille.

What’s your favourite post-race indulgence? I always have intentions to eat pizza and drink wine but, to be honest, all I want is water and recovery protein shakes. It’s not so exciting. I even turned down a huge slice of cake last time at the finish line. I just can’t face food at that stage – clearly my body is still in shock from the distance it’s just run!

What is the worst thing about running? I hate the training. it’s time-consuming, exhausting and often very dull indeed. However, it pays off. Yet the year I was pregnant and couldn’t take part, ironically I was so envious of all the people I saw out running at the weekend who were obviously in training – I felt like I was missing out!

And the best? The best thing is the euphoria you feel crossing the line at the end of the race. It marks the end of a lot of training, and is a moment where you and your fellow runners/duathletes can feel a sense of pride that you did it. I’m raising money for the Children’s Trust this year, so finishing means that you have achieved what you needed to do.
What do you eat on the morning of a race? Nothing fancy – a plain bagel and a banana.

What’s the furthest distance you’ve ever run? A marathon, 26.2 miles … and possibly an extra quarter mile from zigzagging across the road too much.

Do you ever run barefoot? I don’t run barefoot; my feet are used to the comfort of trainers that suit my running style. I have heard a lot of people have suffered from shin splints as a result of making the switch to barefoot trainers, which isn’t very appealing.

If you had to choose who to watch, would it be Mo Farah or Usain Bolt?Usain Bolt is a showman and, let’s be honest, it’s a short race so it would be a few seconds of excitement. I have met Mo and watched him race – but it’s not as thrilling for a spectator till towards the end near the finish line.

Jenni Falconer is the 2014 London Duathlon ambassador. For further information or to sign up, visit

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