5 days in the life of Cathy Shipton

Monday: Six days to the London Marathon. Out of bed and running before I have time to think: just me, the herons and a couple of scullers on the river. I pushed hard yesterday, doing 12 miles in 1hr 29min - a personal best - I just wanted to go for it and felt strong. Rehearsals at 2pm today which feels like a luxury: I manage to do lines and get my life in some kind of order. I'm rehearsing Steaming, a bawdy, raucous and moving piece by Nell Dunn. We all gather after lunch in good spirits despite the fact that two of the cast have rotten colds. I make a mental note to take more vitamin C and zinc - I can't succumb to a cold at this stage. Oh, the hypochondria of the long-distance runner.

TUESDAY: To focus on the race next Sunday it is vital to keep this week as normal and uncluttered as possible ... some hope. I am called at short notice to appear on Channel 5's Live and Dangerous to plug my book Marathon Manual and chat about running and life - but at 1.10am!

Not running today as part of the wind-down, but I now feel normal only in my kit and I'm terrified I'll forget to run. Feel twitchy as I spy three strong runners pacing out along the South Bank - they can't be running on Sunday, can they?

Rehearsals are productive. Home for supper and Chris, my partner and fellow runner, has prepared vegetarian lasagne and apricot and apple crumble, stoking up the carbohydrates.

We celebrate like mad things before I leave for the studio as Fulham have secured promotion to Division Two. (Chris is running to raise money for Fulham 2000 - to keep Fulham at Craven Cottage.)

I enjoy Live and Dangerous: the hosts are laid-back but bright, and it's thrilling being whisked off home at 2am.

WEDNESDAY: Wake feeling foul and not as jolly as last night. Late for rehearsals and resist running for fear of twisting my ankle (weak ankles are my Achilles heel). My dad had weak ankles, too; it must run in the family. Dad is the reason I run. He died 12 years ago from heart disease, as did his father and grandfather before him, and when I got Casualty, I offered my services to the British Heart Foundation. I have run three London marathons and this year will be heading up a 1,000-strong team of heart runners, many of whom suffer from heart problems.

Walking over Hungerford Bridge I look down the Embankment, the last mile of the run, and am reminded of a woman I ran behind last year. Emblazoned on the back of her T-shirt was "This one's for you, Dad". That got me through the last difficult miles.

THURSDAY: Today looks like it's going to be the most normal day of the week. We run most of Act One without scripts. It's great seeing the characters develop. Outside it is warming up, which doesn't bode well for Sunday.

I find myself scanning long-range weather forecasts in papers and on Ceefax - obsessed? Moi? Apparently it will be 16C and partially cloudy. Hydration will be important.

I've started "snacking" between meals, bananas and oat bars mainly, much to the annoyance of the cast. Most actors are image-conscious and I was on some kind of diet for about 20 years. However, since I took up running I eat what I like and I haven't been near scales for five years.

During tea break we discuss a possible publicity stunt for the play by doing a group streak at the marathon start. Common decency prevents us from pursuing this.

Get my kit ready for Sunday. Friends and family ring with good wishes and I get tingly and emotional.

FRIDAY: Quiet and productive rehearsals this morning, concentrating on relationships: some good stuff comes out. I'm released at lunchtime to do 5's Company, a live chat show. An old chap in the audience dressed in a pearly suit gives me pounds 5 for the Heart Foundation. He ran the London Marathon in 1984, aged 64, and since then has raised pounds 90,000 for cerebral palsy. Fly back to rehearsals and run through what we've done this week. A bit patchy as we're groping for words. I feel end-of-the-week-ish and mind-somewhere-else-ish.

At home Chris frets about doing a gig with his band, Kite, at the 12 Bar Club this Sunday after we've run, so we organise massage. Thirty-six hours to go: rest, eat, worry, but inevitably let it all go - there's nothing left to do now but run.

Cathy Shipton appears in 'Steaming' at the Piccadilly Theatre from 1 May.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk