Page last updated at 08:10 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 09:10 UK

'If I can run a marathon, anyone can'

By Neil Bowdler
Health Reporter, BBC News


Sophie Thompson's London Marathon Diary: Part One

Actress Sophie Thompson is running the London Marathon, and she finds that as surprising as anyone. In fact, she can't stop laughing.

Sophie is perhaps best known for playing Phil Mitchell's troubled ex Stella in EastEnders, but has also played a string of film and TV character roles, including a giggling bride in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Stella (Sophie Thompson) and Phil in happier times
Stella (Sophie Thompson) and Phil in happier times

Today, she's been playing a mole on the CBeebies animation Tinga Tinga Tales, and she puts her all into the part.

She had to tone it down apparently, after her first take on the mole proved too mole-like to be intelligible to humans.


After today's recording is done, she withdraws to a nearby sofa to talk about the London Marathon.

"I've often watched it on the telly, and I'm always so moved.

"It's this group endeavour of such a disparate fantastic huge bunch of people. It always seems to resume your confidence in the human spirit."

The people in my local running shop are quite serious. I think I lower the tone a bit.
Sophie Thompson

A chat with "some bird at a do" encouraged her to give it a go, which led to her suggesting in a "casual way" that she would run for a charity she supports. Before she could say marathon, she'd been entered.

She hates sport, hates gyms, is deeply suspicious of lycra, and like perhaps many marathon first-timers, feels a bit like a fraud.

"The people in my local running shop are quite serious. I think I lower the tone a bit."

'Soph the Loaf'

So what training has she managed to fit in between being a mole, a mother and playing Mafalda Hopkirk in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? It turns out she has been putting in the miles, in between jobs.

"My Soph the Loaf programme is trying to run every other day - not every day - are you mad?

Monday - rest day
Tuesday - jog for 30 mins
Wednesday - jog for 30 mins
Thursday - jog for 60 mins
Friday - jog for 30 mins
Saturday - rest day
Sunday - mix of jogging, running and walking
Source: Virgin London Marathon's 24-week training plan for beginners

"During the week, I'll do a five-mile run and a seven and maybe a six or a nine, and at the weekend, slightly longer ones. I've done a 16 and a half.

"I think I'm supposed to have done more by now - then you have to start tapering off. I'm looking forward to that."

It's not text-book stuff. She takes her cue from her body mostly, she says, and borrows only what suits her from running websites.

"You have to listen to yourself and say, I don't think I can do that because it's not going to fit into my world."

The talking done, it's down and out onto the street for a quick run. She's off like a flash, shouting behind her as she goes.

"If I can do it, you can do it."

Sophie Thompson is running the Virgin London Marathon 2010 for Children In Need India (CINI)

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