By James Reid
Cambridge long-distance runner Georgina Schwiening knows that half the battle will be to make it to the start line as she represents England in the marathon at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Schwiening, 27, was announced as the first member of Team England’s athletics team for the Games in Birmingham after achieving the qualifying time at the Manchester Marathon in April.
However, the former world junior duathlon champion knows the hardest yards are yet to come despite several years of hard work to get to this point.
“You’re walking a knife-edge between being in the shape of your life and being injured and it’s just trying to get that balance right,” said Schwiening.
“That’s been where most of my learning has taken place – how can I fine-tune the training to actually be on the start line?
“That’s the biggest hurdle everyone will have in the marathon is can I get to that start line with the body that I want and need?
“With marathon running, it’s the epic challenge of it that really attracted me to it and also it’s the fact that it’s all about the time that you do.
“It’s quite an empowering race and a distance because of the challenge combined with your control over how it goes.”
Schwiening only did her first marathon five years ago, having also competed in duathlon and triathlon, but says her journey to Birmingham has been a gradual one.
“I did my first marathon in 2017, I’ve done 12 or 13 marathons since then and each year I’ve chipped off a few minutes on my time,” added Schwiening.
“It’s been a very steady journey, I’ve not made any significant jumps I’ve just done my training and then looked to see what I can do a bit better next time and got a few minutes quicker each time.
“It’s been very gradual and slow progress to get here. With marathon training, the training started several years ago.
“It takes years to build up all the muscles and get your bone density, all the different systems going on in your body, you’ve been training them for years and at this point.
“It’s now just trying to push yourself enough to get a little bit fitter, a little bit faster. I’m not looking to do anything radical.”
With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Schwiening hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
The Cambridge-based athlete achieved the time to ensure she would be in Birmingham in Manchester, and running such a fast time has given her the necessary resolve to kick on ahead of the race in July.
“In Manchester I got the qualification time and it gives you the motivation and the belief,” added Schwiening.
“It’s more just the validation of your training – the race tells you that you know what you’re doing and that you know how to train and you know what you need to do.
“Because marathon training is so gruelling, you’ve got to know every day that what you’re doing is making a difference and it’s the right thing.
“My first aim is making it to the start line, fit and healthy and then knowing how fit I am, executing a race to match my fitness and then if I can enjoy it on top of all of that, that will be the dream.”
Racing in Birmingham will also see Schwiening spurred on by a home crowd as she takes on the 18km loop around England’s second city.
This summer, Team England, supported by National Lottery funding, will comprise over 400 athletes in total, and having secured her place on the squad, Schwiening is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.
She said: “I can’t wait for the crowd and the atmosphere, I think that adds another element of excitement to the event.
“It’s also knowing your friends and family are going to be amongst that crowd – I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about that because to just be able to spot friends and family, wave, so they feel part of it.
“Marathon running can occasionally feel isolating – to know you’ve got that huge support around you is incredibly motivating.”
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