He ran 370 marathons in a year, yet Rob Young says it is within us all to run 26 miles a day. Ahead of the London Marathon, the author explains all
As well as dedicating the book to your family, you also honour the running community. What is so special about the people you have encountered during this challenge?
The running world is a special place. Once you have been in it long enough you become part of the family. Running brings peace, love and people together no matter what social class, status, religion, race, ethnicity or gender, so with this in mind it is only right for me to dedicate the book to my family and honour the running community that I love so much.
What made you take on this challenge and did you always believe that you could do it? Do you have any secrets you can share?
While watching the 2014 London Marathon, everything changed. My partner Joanna bet me just 20p that I could not run a marathon and I said I could do 50 marathons. It was like in that one moment all the barriers that were there my whole life were gone, all the inhibitions I had disappeared. It was like I could finally be the person I was supposed to be all along. The next day it all started. The key to completing something so gruelling is to firstly, have a purpose (for me it rests with helping the next generation and my charity Dreams Come True), secondly, believe that you can and thirdly, have fun.
How did your body cope with the sudden process of going from zero to hero and running a marathon a day?
Everyone has the ability to run a marathon a day every single day. It takes three weeks for the body to get fit for it and then another week for you to have the mental capability of doing a marathon a day. Yes, you have days where you are physically and mentally tired but on the whole you are OK.
Can you sum up what the achievement (completing 370 marathons in 365 days) meant to you?
It’s just a bit of running! [Rob’s self-deprecating catchphrase]
In many of the photos in the book you are wearing a kilt. Can you tell us the story behind that decision?
I asked some of my dear friends’ kids to dress me for a run. A few days later they told me to wear a kilt, fairy wings, scuba goggles and to carry a fairy wand. I even had to pay each kid a couple of pounds to get them to allow me to wear trainers.
From there I enjoyed wearing the kilt every day until a brick was thrown into my back in America during the 3,100 mile Trans-American Footrace (Race Across USA). From there I took to wearing my SKINS shorts and the kilt comes out on special occasions.
As a survivor of child abuse what can you say to fellow survivors making their way in the world as adults?
The best way to stop looking back is to forgive those who’ve hurt you. Then you no longer have to think about them. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a journey with an end point and you can start any time. I was angry for a long time as a kid and, to be honest, ashamed, but over time I worked it out of my system.
The most important lesson I have learned is that if you have experienced abuse, then you have to realise that what happened is not your fault.
Will you be running the London Marathon tomorrow and what’s the next project for you after that?
I want to challenge the limits of endurance and show what we really can do as humans so I’m open to any challenge. This year I will be attempting to break the record for the fastest Crossing of America on foot, a record that has stood for nearly 36 years along with many other challenges. n
Marathon Man by Rob Young is out now, published by Simon & Schuster at £16.99