EPISODE 5: Elite endurance and mental strength with marathon runner, Pete Thompson

Completing the Tour de France is a worthy challenge for any professional athlete – it takes another degree of determination to complete all 2082 miles on foot, in 68 consecutive days. The level of strength and endurance required from a running coach with a stunning best marathon time of 2:25, while raising thousands for mental health support and awareness, is truly astonishing.


Pete Thompson joins Chris Billam-Smith for episode 5 of The Perfect Athlete to discuss some of Pete’s incredible running achievements, and the sheer amount of self-care and dedication required to run one of the most gruelling cycling routes in the world. Pete also shares the reasons he chose to run for mental health charities, and considers the progress that has been made in destigmatising mental health discussions in recent years.




“The London Marathon was my first marathon and I think, like most people at the end of it, I said ‘I never want to do another one’ because I walked out the last few miles because it was so much pain. But I carried on.” – 5:06 – Pete Thompson

“It took me a little while to get into that heart rate stuff. But definitely there’s a huge amount of science in doing those easier runs and not pushing yourself too much. Heart rate is a brilliant way of knowing that.” – 13:21 – Pete Thompson

“In marathon running – especially as you get faster – if you are lighter, it makes a huge, a huge difference.” – 14:57 – Pete Thompson

“I would be very conscious about getting hydrated in the days beforehand and in the morning and in everything I do before a race. But within that race, I didn’t take anything on because the small amount that I used to take on I just felt gave me a stitch, and it affected my race negatively.” – 18:24 – Pete Thompson

“If you look at Floyd Mayweather, he was in the gym usually on a Monday after he’d boxed on a Saturday. That’s why he was able to have the career he did; obviously he stayed unbeaten the whole time as well. So that’s an interesting point, of always just looking ahead and looking to the next training session.” – 27:15 – Chris Billam-Smith

“I wanted to get running back in my life but in the right way, so I decided that I wanted to do a running challenge. I wanted to take on a challenge to raise money for mental health charities, and try to enjoy running again.” – 39:03 – Pete Thompson

“I planned so much, but I didn’t even plan silly things like taking spoons with me. I was eating cereal with door keys!” – 43:35 – Pete Thompson

“My ankle swelled up in the first couple of days. I would obviously elevate them normally and put ice in them. But those first few days, I was doing quite a lot of journeys where I couldn’t just put my feet up on a train when I’ve got someone next to me.” – 46:07 – Pete Thompson

“The idea that everyone has a mental health like they have a physical health is suggesting that we have to manage that in the same way that we do our physical health. Also that mental illness and mental health are different things – I think that sometimes gets a bit lost.” – 1:06:20 – Pete Thompson

“Running is quite a solitary sport, and you have so many periods by yourself where you almost have to convince yourself that you can do something or take your mind off things.” – 1:21:50 – Pete Thompson