Top marathon tips from actress Emma Pierson

Emma Pierson is an actress and soon-to-be marathon runner. Emma has appeared in the critically acclaimed Little Dorrit, which won seven Emmys as well as Charles II T.V. dramas, but is perhaps best known for her long-term role as sultry yet hilarious receptionist Anna Thornton-Wilton in the BBC's Hotel Babylon series.

In addition to acting, she is also a keen photographer and as a member of the exclusive Oxglam Squad - Oxfam's celebrity marathon running team, she recently visited Tanzania to meet people who are being helped by Oxfam, and to take photographs of the things she saw. A few of Emma's beautiful pictures can be seen below.

In between jetting around the world (Los Angeles, Tanzania and Zanzibar are recent destinations) and acting, rehearsing and running, Emma found the time to talk to me about her marathon training and offer some advice on how to get along. Read my interview with her here....
Photo: Andrew Leo

Name: Emma Pierson
Age: 29
Home: Islington, London
Career: Actress

How did you get into running? I have a knee injury and didn’t run prior to this, I normally stay away from high impact sports. But I turn 30 two weeks after the marathon, so set myself the challenge to complete it before my 30th birthday.

Is this your first marathon? Yes, and my last too
What made you decide to run the London Marathon 2011? There were lots of reasons. I was approached by a friend who represents Oxfam and it was a chance to work with a great and established charity which addresses problems before they start. She asked me to get involved, so I accepted. It tickled my fancy, and ticked the box of one of the things I wanted to do before I reached 30. It all added up to being a good idea at the time!

Can you tell us your goal time? Just to complete it – pre 2012, and preferably before my birthday!
What charity are you running for? I’m running for Oxfam, as part of the Oxglam team. Oxfam are helping people to start and develop their own sisal farms in Honduras, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, so that instead of existing on hand-outs, they are able to grow their businesses - providing a sustainable source of income, the benefits of which filter in to their homes, families and communities. The sisal sector provides an opportunity to address gender work imbalances and it is the women that are being helped with the farms, becoming land owners and workers, farmers so that they can start to gain control over their own lives.
The pictures I took are from a community farm that I was lucky enough to visit in Tanzania. The women – both young and old work together to tend their crops, so that everyone benefits. I asked them how it had changed their lives and they told me stories about how they are now able to afford food for their children. Most children eat just one meal a day in these rural areas. They told me how they can now afford to send the children to school, whereas before they couldn't buy the exercise books and pencils.

These are proud women who wore their best clothes for our visit, who sang us their favourite songs, who had so little and yet offered their homes for me to stay in, whose children were wearing raggedy clothes yet they'd proudly push them forward to have their picture taken.. They are strong, hard working and kind people who are trying to make the best of themselves and with your help they can really do this.

Who is your marathon inspiration? The people who are going to benefit from the money we’re raising. I was fortunate enough to go to Tanzania and put faces to the other side of what all this means.

What has been your trick to integrating your training into your already busy schedule? Yesterday I was doing a radio recording and during my lunch hour I had to nip off to do my run, whereas at weekends I have to dedicate a whole day to it - as long runs take up most of the day. Essentially it’s multi tasking, I often record lines I have to learn on to my ipod, then learn them whilst I’m running.

What do you tell yourself to beat the wall? If ever you’ve hit it! I don’t do walls. If I did I never would have got to where I am today. You can’t let walls exist in your mind.

Can you name your top three tracks on your marathon playlist? My ipod contains everything from Britney to Rolling Stones to Buble and beyond. I think a lot of artists would be horrified to see what preceeds them on my ipod, but it works for me.

Gold Digger - Kanye West

Mr Blue Sky – ELO

Paint it black – The Rolling Stones
What is your pre race ritual? Deep Heat, ibuprofen and ibuprofen gel. Checking my ipod is fully charged. I did a run the other day, and as my ipod ran out of battery ran out, so did I – it was hell! My new addition is suncream, only since the addiditon of this new weather. Oh then more Deep Heat, ibuprofen and ibuprofen gel!

What is your marathon top training tip? My top tip would be to put your ipod on before you get to the gym. Hearing your running music is the best way to motivate you and get yourself off the sofa!
Photo: Carly Roberts

For more information on the Oxglam squad, visit www.oxfam.org.uk/Running/JoinOurTeam/Oxglam
To sponsor them, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/oxglam

Massive thanks and lots of luck to Emma - and all the Oxglam Squad for Sunday.
run like 'elle. x