An interview with London Marathon first timer Rachel Heywood

I’ve known Rach Heywood (nee Eversden) since I was 4 years old. We’ve been best friends for an incredible 30+ years. And boy have we experienced lots of fun adventures together from growing up in the rural village of Bradford Peverell, to attending the same schools, learning to ski in Austria, attending our first concert – Kylie Minogue through to being Rach’s bridesmaid back in 2013.

And now it’s a huge honour to interview Rach on the amazing challenge she’s about to take on tackling the London Marathon for charity, so without further ado let me introduce you to Rach Heywood…

Rach, tell us a bit about you…

Well, I’m Rach Heywood and very lucky these days to live by the sea in the beautiful Dorset town of Bridport with my lovely husband Ian, and two gorgeous children, Jack aged 6 and Evie aged 4, as well as Ruby the dog and Rainbow and Sweep the cats. When I’m not juggling children and animals, I’m a self-employed bookkeeper working in Weymouth.

So, how did you get into running?

I’ve enjoyed running since I was a teenager at school. When I was younger, running was more about keeping physically fit and losing weight. But now I’m older, and have adult responsibilities, running gives me the chance to have that all important ‘me time’ which can be hard to find when you’re trying to juggle life.

Running is a way for me to process and organise my thoughts which leaves me feeling mentally refreshed and invigorated. I love the freedom it gives me, if you have a pair of trainers you can run anywhere and at any time.

What inspired you to run the London Marathon?

I’m not sure exactly why, but it’s always something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve been unsuccessful through the ballot on several occasions and always told myself if I didn’t get a place by the time I turned 40 I’d apply for a charity place.

I’ve not quite reached that big milestone yet, but after losing both my grandparents it felt like something I really wanted to do in their memory, so when I found out I’d won a place it became more about raising money for the MS charity, then just a running challenge.

How big of a challenge is the London Marathon for you?

Well the biggest race I’ve taken part to date was the Dorchester Half Marathon in 2017 and that really challenged me. I wondered how I’d ever run 13 miles in one go and now I’ll be running 26.2 miles!

So, yes this is a big challenge and a nerve wracking one all at the same time.

How do you manage fitting in training with 2 small children?

It’s been really challenging at times balancing running, 2 active children, and working part time. I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband and family. Quite often Ian will get home from work and I’ll be straight out the door, so I can complete my training run and be home for the kids bedtime. It makes my life much easier having their full support.

At the moment, in a week I manage to run 4 times which on average is 4 hours a week. I really like having a plan to follow as it helps keep me motivated.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes life happens and you can’t always follow the plan too strictly and that’s okay.

Have you had to adjust your diet or take any extra supplements?

I’m much more conscious about what I eat these days compared to pre-training. In October, I took part in the Arbonne ’30 days to healthy living plan’ which focus’ on gut health and removing toxins from the body and its made a huge difference to my energy levels. 

The supplements on the plan are all plant based and I still take the protein powder daily and a natural energy supplement called a ‘fizz stick’. They’re amazing and really give me a much-needed boost. I also take a complete hydration sachet from their phytosport range before or after I run which makes sure I’m taking in electrolytes to help keep me hydrated and for my muscles to function properly.

What are you most looking forward to about running the London Marathon?

The atmosphere on the day and meeting the other MS superstars. We have a group on Strava and Facebook, they’re all so supportive and motivational, so it will be lovely to meet them in person.

My children and family will be there too, I can’t wait to see them on the way round.

I’m excited to be travelling to London the day before with my lovely friend Lucy who’s running for Mind in memory of her mum and has been a massive inspiration to me.

And what are you least looking forward to about running the London Marathon?

I’m most worried about not being able to finish. Sometimes you can do everything right with your nutrition, fitness, getting mentally prepared and sometimes your body just doesn’t want to play the game.

What time are you aiming for?

I’ll be happy if I can get under 4 hours 30 minutes. My average pace on a long run is 8.30 minute miles, but I need to factor in the crowds, runners in fancy dress and toilet stops along the way!

What’s your must have running item?

It would have to be my trusty Garmin Forerunner 25 to track my runs.

And my lush new Saucony Ride 10 trainers from Running Free in Poole. It’s so important to get a proper gait analysis done and try out other trainers to find the right one for you, plus the staff there are really patient and knowledgeable – which is definitely a good thing when you’re as indecisive as I am!

Which charity are you running the London Marathon for?

I’m running for the Wareham and Purbeck MS Society in memory of my grandparents. They were members of the branch for nearly 25 years and it was such a big lifeline for them both. I’m hoping to raise as much money as I can as my way of saying ‘thank you’ for all the support they gave them over the years.

How is your fundraising going?

When I was offered a place, I was more nervous about the fundraising than I was about the training.

To run for the MS Society, you need to raise £2,000 which is pretty scary, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of my friends and family. Not only with sponsorship, but by volunteering their time helping with ideas and supporting fundraising events. I really can’t thank them enough!

What else do you have planned?

On Sunday 8th April, we’re holding a Tractor Rally. It starts from just outside Dorchester and takes a beautiful scenic route through the Dorset countryside. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a tractor, there will also be a trailer ride along the route for any non drivers wanting to take part. There will be a prize for the best tractor. This will be judged by some members from the Wareham and Purbeck MS Society who were friends of my Grandparents, I’m so glad they can come it makes it all the more special that they’ll be there.

We’re also running a raffle which we’ll draw on the day. Tickets are £1 each. There are some amazing prizes kindly donated by local Dorset businesses. Here’s a selection of some of the prizes you could win:

  • House of Health & Beauty voucher
  • Munchkins play for a month voucher
  • Art Hair Gallery, Poundbury cut & blow dry
  • Tatty to Natty Furniture plaque
  • Abbotsbury Farm family pass
  •       Signed Screwfix football by Jimmy Bullard
  • Love 2 Shop £50 Voucher
  • Running Free, Poundbury ladies running clothing
  • Vinny at Six meal for 2
  • Plus, lots of wine & food

Tickets can be bought on the day of the Tractor Rally, via my Just Giving (simply make a donation with the reference ‘raffle’ & your name) or contact Rach (

How can people sponsor you?

Or via an old school paper sponsorship form, just pop a message in the comments below if you’d like one.

And finally, what do you have planned after the London Marathon?

I’ve signed up to the Bridport 10km in May and will hopefully take part in the New Forest Half Marathon with my training and marathon buddy Lucy in September. It’s good to have some goals to keep the motivation going. Also, I’m determined for Becca aka Country Bumpkin Chic and I to do another run together this year as we’ve only done one together which was the fun Run from the Romans night time trail race organised by Flying Fox Running!

Thanks Rach for taking part, we wish you all the best for the London Marathon, you’re going to smash it!!


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