Stick to a training plan, drink protein shakes and neglect the housework! How Nell McAndrew went from amateur jogger to top marathon runner
16:40 GMT, 27 April 2012
Claire Hallissey may have run herself into the GB Olympic team in Sunday's London Marathon but another woman also achieved an impressive feat of endurance.
Nell McAndrew improved her personal best by 14 minutes and smashed the three hour barrier to finish in a time of two hours and 54 minutes.
The 38-year-old burst into tears when she crossed the line and said she was delighted to finish comfortably under three hours when she spoke to the Mail Online today.
Queen of the road: Nell McAndrew smashed her pb to run the London Marathon in under three hours
'It feels amazing to have broken the three hour barrier,' she said. 'It has taken a couple of days to sink in I think. I felt really comfortable most of the run. I am the fittest I have ever been.'
The model was the first celebrity across the line on Sunday beating former Olympians like rower James Cracknell, as well as hundreds of dedicated club athletes.
While Nell has always been sporty, she only took up running in her thirties, with her motivation to raise money for charity as well as get fit. She has now surpassed the level of an amateur jogger with Sunday's time ranking her as the 34th fastest British woman over 26.2 miles this year. And with only 87 British women beating the three hour mark last year, she is likely to remain highly ranked by the end of 2012.
So how did she do it Nell said the key was sticking to a consistent training plan where she gradually increasing her weekly mileage and mixed marathon-paced runs with speed work and long, steady runs.
While she benefited from using technology developed to aid athletes, such as lightweight trainers and a GPS watch which told her exact pace per mile (in past races she said she would 'guess' her speed), she admits it was small tweaks to her diet that also made the difference.
Proud: An emotional Nell after her race. She said she improved thanks to increasing her mileage and eating more protein
She said: 'It's important for runners to eat well, eating for fuel for energy rather than comfort eating. I made sure I ate more protein – lots of eggs and tins of mackeral and Solgar Whey (a protein power made into a drink by adding milk or water). I also took also Spatone natural iron supplements.'
Good cause: Nell was running to raise money for Cancer Research UK
As a busy mum to son Devon, five, Nell, a former contestant on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, had to juggle her training around childcare and the school run.
'It was hard but I would just plan my day around my running,' she said. 'I always go to school in my running kit so I can do a run straight after dropping my son off, or get up really early and do it before everyone gets up. I have completely neglected my housework and paperwork etc. I really need to have a big spring clean now!'
Nell took up marathon running eight years ago and quickly got the running bug. She finished her first marathon in 3.22 and has gradually lowered that time thanks to increasing her training and regularly racing in shorter events like 5ks and half marathons.
One run which she says really helped
her training was the 'Parkrun', a timed 5k race for all abilities that
takes place in parks all over the country every Saturday morning at 9am.
She recommends the runs to beginners and
more experienced runners looking to improve their times: 'The local
parkruns are fantastic as they are for runners of all levels and all
ages. My mum does her local parkrun every week,' she said.
Nell also kept up her
charity fundraising this year, leading a team of runners for Cancer
Research UK. The cause is close to her heart because her father is a
NELL'S TOP RUNNING TIPS Follow a consistent training plan Increase your mileage graduallyTake part in your local ParkRun (a free, timed 5k run held weekly across the country)Eat lots of proteins as well as carbs
Join a running clubDon't give up!
'My dad Ted is lucky to be a survivor
of cancer and has just turned 60 years old,' she said. 'Seven years ago
we didn't think he would make it to 60. All the money raised will help
us to help Cancer Research UK with their fight against cancer.'
So far this year, Nell has raised more than 10,000 and is still welcoming donations via her website nellmcandrew.tv.
She is delighted music mogul Simon Cowell responded to her personal
plea for sponsorship by giving 2,000. 'He's my hero!' she said.
She added: 'I'd like to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far, whether it's 5 or 500, it all helps fund Cancer Research UK's vital work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.'
Nell admitted the only negative on what was a fantastic day in London on Sunday was hearing the sad news 30-year-old Claire Squires collapsed and died less than a mile from the finish line.
'There is only one thing I would change about the marathon day… that Claire Squires had crossed the finish line and survived. My heart goes out to her family and friends. Rest in peace Claire' she said.