A RUNNER who was preparing for her 26th London Marathon intends to make the most of a break from the "long, long miles".

Louise Blizzard, a former forensic services officer and special constable trainer for Cheshire Constabulary in Winsford, was due to hit the streets of the capital yet again in the 40th edition of the race this month.

That is now on hold after organisers were forced to postpone the event until October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After training hard for months, announcement of the delay will have been a bitter blow to many of the 40,000 entrants but Blizzard is looking on the positive side.

Blizzard, 44, said: "It sounds daft but at the time it was a bit of a relief. For the two weeks before I was training for an event I didn't know was going to go ahead.

"I did a 20-mile run about two weeks before the announcement and normally I wouldn't choose to go out and run 20 miles on a Sunday, it was all with the marathon in mind.

"It's not a complete rest, I've never had a complete rest in 33 years of running, apart from when I had my son.

"It is just having a little bit of a dip now until I can start building up again. At the moment it's good to have a break from the long, long miles."

Blizzard, a compliance officer for Crest Medical, ran her first London Marathon at the age of 18 in 1994, clocking a time of three hours, 32 minutes and one second.

The following year she ran 2:58 having been invited to run with the elite women for the first time and she set her personal best of 2:54 in 2004.

She has missed the event just once, when heavily pregnant, in 2010. Her son, Alfie, was born the day after the London Marathon.

Blizzard, a member at Warrington Athletic Club and a regular at the town's Parkrun, said: "It's been a roller coaster. I've run five London Marathons under three hours but they don't always go to plan.

"The wheels have fallen off and I've cried. One minute you can feel great and the next wondering how you get through the next mile. It's a range of emotions. It's about managing it all on the day."

"So for now, it is good to have the break, but that will not last long.

"For me it's important to keep a good base level of fitness and I will start to increase my miles again in about July if it goes ahead for the October date."

Of all the races, the 2018 event sticks in her mind the most.

“That was the heatwave year. It wasn’t a race, you just had to focus on getting to the end," she said.

“Everyone was helping each other, sharing water. On that day it was just too hot, you have to be sensible.”

Blizzard still finished in three hours, 28 minutes and five seconds.

She recently ran her 200th Warrington Parkrun, adding: “It’s like a time trial for me.”

Blizzard said running the 5km (three miles) of a Parkrun is very different from tackling the 42km (26.2 miles) of the London Marathon.

“You learn different coping mechanisms. It’s staying power all the time," she said.

“You meet friends all the way round. You just help each other.

“Everyone is going through their own experiences. There’s a lovely sense of friendship.”

She praised the crowds and said the race is also special as on marathon day in 2008 her husband Gareth, 46, a graphic designer, proposed on Tower Bridge.

The couple married in Holmes Chapel in 2009.

She started running aged 13.

“I was actually a gymnast but had an accident on the bars and broke my arm," she said.

“I can’t move my hand so I couldn’t go back to gymnastics.”

Two years later, she started running and took part in the New York Marathon to celebrate her 18th birthday.

She has also run marathons in Berlin, Lanzarote, Snowdonia, Edinburgh and the Netherlands and runs every day.

It had been thought that Blizzard would be setting a record for the most London Marathons completed by a woman if she collected her 26th medal this year.

Other women have now come forward to say they have run more and Barbara Ralph, 66, of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, made her own claim for the record when she presented the London Marathon with evidence of her 29 completed races.

The Chiltern Harriers Athletics Club runner has run 10 London Marathons under her maiden name of Barbara Sheldon, three as Barbara Sheldon-Ralph and 16 under her married name.

In 2009, aged 55, she finished in three hours, 18 minutes and 53 seconds and was the third woman to finish in the 55-59 age group, receiving a plaque for her achievement. She was also rated third in the UK in her age group for a marathon that year.

"That's the sort of thing you are more proud of than getting a medal for finishing. It's got more meaning," she said.