Meet Kate Cater, journalist for Guardian who has a passion for running. Kate has completed nine marathons to date and will be running this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
Hi Kate, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I am a journalist, editor, runner and mother. Not necessarily in that order. Amongst other things, I edit the Guardian running blog, which is fortunate because otherwise all my friends would have to be the outlet for endless discussions about running. Not that they don’t get that too, mind. My kids are 9 and 6, and they are runners too: that is, they regularly do junior parkrun, know exactly how far a marathon is and – in the case of the elder one – describes herself as “definitely a sprinter not an endurance runner”.
Why did you start running? What was your motivation for it?
I started running when my youngest daughter was a baby. I was on maternity leave, had extremely limited time in my day but wanted to get fit. I actually hated running before, on the rare occasions I’d tried it. But I started doing Coach to 5k and something just stuck. I think only a new parent can appreciate the true joy that is half an hour by yourself, with no one demanding anything of you at all. That was excellent motivation to start.
When did running become a passion?
Pretty soon, I guess. I started in the spring of 2012, and by the end of the year I’d run a few races up to half marathon distance. I stuck with those sort of distances for a while, then in 2014 I entered my first marathon – London – and the addiction was cemented. I’ve done the Virgin Money London Marathon every year since, and a few others too.
When you train do you run with other people? Is it a benefit to run with other people?
Yes I train with my local club – Wimbledon Windmilers – and am actually co-captain of the womens team. I think running with other people is crucial. Whether it’s a track session – where you can work with someone who you know is around the same pace as you to push each other a bit harder than you could alone – or just a really good mate to make a long run whizz by as you chat and put the world to rights.
What was your first competitive distance race? How did you find it?
I guess it depends on your definition of competitive. I remember being really nervous before my first race in 2012 – a 10km in Poole. Conditions weren’t great – it was very windy – but it went pretty well. But I always get nervous before big goal races – ones that you’ve trained really hard for. Nerves are all part of it though: if you didn’t get nervous, you wouldn’t care, and if you didn’t care, what would be the point?
When did you run your first marathon? What made you sign up?
Virgin Money London Marathon 2014. By this point I’d run around 91 minutes for a half marathon and everyone kept asking me if I was going to do a full one. I figured I’d got the miles in my legs by that point, so why not? And of course starting with London seemed a no-brainer for a Londoner born and bred!
Do you remember the feeling when you finished? Did that inspire you to run more?
Yes, I vividly remember crossing the finishing line of Virgin Money London Marathon in 2014 and my first thought was “I am going to do that again. And next time: faster!”.
Whilst running the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon you picked up an injury, what was that like? What motivated you to keep running?
I can’t deny that was pretty gutting. I was on great form, and had run Pbs at virtually every distance while training for last year’s race. Everything looked great. But after about 10 miles, my quad was absolutely killing me. By about 20 miles every step was like some kind of torture. But I’m an idiot so I finished anyway. Luckily I didn’t damage myself too much in the process! I have to say it would never have occurred to me for a minute to stop running, though. I’m far too addicted!
Has there been times when you wanted to stop running? What motivated you to keep training?
I think everyone suffers motivational lows now and then, and I think it’s important to admit that. That’s the same whether you are an Olympian or a parkrunner. And that’s fine: we can’t all be enthusiastic about everything all the time! I think you just need to say to yourself “It’s ok to occasionally hate the idea of a run: but when have you ever, ever felt worse AFTER one than before?”.
What motivates you to run now? Has this changed since you first started?
I’ve got lots of goals – both races I want to do and times I want to achieve. I’m still, despite being no spring chicken, getting faster. My main aim is a sub three hour marathon. My PB is 3 hours and 07 seconds … Only 8 seconds to chip off!
Why are you running this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon?
I think I’d have to rephrase that as “Why would I NOT run the London marathon?” I’ve ‘raced’ it and I’ve also done it to pace a friend. Each experience is amazing in it’s own different way and while I’m fortunate enough to be able to get a guaranteed Championship place (based on qualifying times) and I’m fit enough – I’ll always be on that startline