Nick Loughlin, a former Northern Echo Sports Editor, is running the London Marathon on Sunday in aid of Prostate Cancer. In his third blog ahead of October’s event, he takes you through his running journey.

Here we go. Months of miles, hours of running and learning of the challenge ahead, it’s now just days away.

The 2022 London Marathon is upon me. Now it’s all about fine-tuning, the hard yards have been done.

It becomes a mental challenge as much as it will be physical. I'm running it for Prostate Cancer, and many people have been through those challenges, my uncle included after he was diagnosed earlier this year and is now, thanks to the world-class staff at James Cook, in full recovery mode. 

Now there's a phrase in running terms known as tapering, where your training eases off and you just tick over in the days leading to the main event.

There’s another phrase out there: maranoia. That’s when, in the days leading up to a marathon, every niggle, worry and sniffle turns into a full blown concern. 

I’m more worried about sitting next to someone at work who has just recovered from a cold rather than the logistics of getting to London on Saturday amid a rail strike.

But to get me to the start line – and, of course, the finish too - I’ve been able to rely on a North-East running hero.

I’ve recently clocked up 250 parkruns, those all-inclusive Saturday morning 5k events, and the inspiration who took me to my first back in September 2013 at Sedgefield is on hand, on tap, to see me through the 26.2 miles and 365 yards this weekend.

Paul Smith has been a superb help in getting me ready both physically and mentally for Sunday. He is a wealth of running knowledge and more.

You may know him as Lord Smythe. Since December 31, 2007 he has ran every day. Yes, every single day. A minimum 5k and always outdoors. He’s ran through all weathers, ailments, distances, conditions and costumes. Last week he didn’t miss a day despite being laid low by Covid.

He’s inspired so many others and raised so much for charity he was selected to carry the Commonwealth Games baton through County Durham recently and has been recognised for his efforts by Durham County Council.

The Lord (anyone recall his son Joseph being named a Northern Echo Local Hero back in the day for single handedly taking on all comers at a Cub Scout gala when none of his teammates turned up?) has clocked up over 50 marathons, so when I’m tackling my first then who better to lean on?

He compiled my 12-week training plan, has offered endless advice and tips and he’s not afraid to admit it: he’s bonkers.

“Some people knit, some people smoke and some people drink, but I run,” he smiled. “Am I ever going to stop… well why should I? I’m the Lord Of The Streak, not the Lord Of The Non Streak.”

Of course he’s done the London Marathon and knows what the classic distance (as he affectionately calls it) is all about. 

It’s down to his training plan (The Marathon Gospel of The Lord) that I am out to complete the event in (hopefully a tad under) four hours. 

And, as my legs ache when running around Canary Wharf, London Docklands, and I’m trying to get through the last 4 miles along the Embankment and into The Mall, I’ll remember his words of wisdom: it’s only running.

Nick is running the 2022 London Marathon as part of the Prostate Cancer UK team. To get involved and sponsor him, visit his Just Giving page at