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Hasan’s Journey to the London Marathon

After a tough year for marathon hopefuls, an estimated 80,000 runners finally took part in a record-breaking London Marathon, both virtually and via an app, on Sunday 3rd December.

One of those 80,000 runners was Sport & Fitness member and Green Heart Runners participant Hasan Patel. After just four years of running in total, Hasan embarked on a rigorous marathon training regime with the help of Sport & Fitness Personal Trainer and Nutritionist, Peter Antonio.

To find out more about his experience training and working with Peter, we caught up with Hasan following the London Marathon, and here’s what he had to say…


Ahead of the London Marathon, Peter had been providing support, advice, guidance and whooping my behind into gear if I was slacking. As a user of UoB Sports and facilities I worked with Peter a couple of years ago on the half marathon and he has been such an inspiration and go to person this time around.

I only took up running in 2017 and during that period I would run the odd 10k run and one-half marathon along with the usual weekly 5K run with the Green Heart Runners. I never however in my wildest dreams consider running any marathon and especially the London Marathon.

So my first point of contact was Peter Antonio as I had worked with him before for the Birmingham half-marathon, but training for the London Marathon is a different beast and Peter’s experience in fitness and nutrition would help me immensely.

Training for a marathon, which also included fundraising, more or less takes over your life. From June 2021 I spent 5 days out of 7 doing something related to marathon training. I had 20 weeks to prepare and Peter’s bespoke plans, talks and suggestions were valuable. Peter prepared a workout plan which involved two weekly 5k runs, one session involving strength work, one session of balance work and a long run each Sunday which would be increased by 10% each week. The sessions varied and would change every month, but the running was the same.

Discipline and focus are also a strong component as mental strength is also essential. In July I had hit an emotional wall and did do the long runs, but after a discussion with Peter he was on top of me like a hawk and ensured I did do the long runs just through motivation and his prep talks which are essential.

As the months went on, I noticed how the strength and balance training helped as my distances were increasing each week and I could easily run further which resulted in my last long run of 19.2 miles two weeks before the big day myself.

During this period Peter also advised me on nutrition and gave me tips on what to eat before and after any long run but also how, for me personally, during the runs Majdoul dates, Cliff Bars and water was essential. These little nuggets made a huge difference, from the onset I just listened to what Peter was suggesting and not taking advice elsewhere and even though at times things seemed too much I knew I would be in a good place come October 3rd.

On the day of the marathon I was tense and anxious as one would be, yet a motivational voice message left by Peter had helped me as his constant reminder that the goal isn’t time but finishing the course kept me focused.

The experience of running the London Marathon is something I will never forget – I was surrounded by runners who all had a story and were united in empathy and compassion, but that alone does not carry you through. The training, the conditioning, diet, recovery and mental focus are essential and I was grateful for Peter in assisting and developing my own journey with these skillsets. I am not a fast runner but I was consistent as I ran the entire 26.2 miles at an average of 7min40 seconds per km which resulted in a finish of 5:38:00.

My first marathon was an emotional experience as not only did I run the entire route, I also raised £6400 for Alzheimer’s Society in the memory of my late grandfather. I read that only 0.97% of the world’s population have ran a marathon, so I am blessed, but if it was not Peter Antonio at the UoB Sports and Fitness Centre I could have still been in the category of the 99.97%. So, after four months of pain, frustration, hopping on my legs, trying to find the extra 3km on my long routes and Majdoul dates being consumed every 20 minutes I can say I have completed the London Marathon.

If you want to take part in any sporting feat you need a good coach, advisor and mentor and I was lucky I found that in Peter Antonio – I have already applied to be in the ballot for the London Marathon 2022 so best if Peter keeps his phone on.

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