Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

“Having that balance does help” – doctor Sesemann to continue juggling marathon career

Posted on 1 November 2021 by Vicki Merrick

With a time of two hours, 12 minutes and 58 seconds junior doctor Phil Sesemann crossed the line in seventh at the Virgin London Marathon 2021. In doing so he became the British champion in his first ever marathon.

Sesemann has ambitions to continue with the distance alongside his career as a junior doctor and thinks the balance has been key to his progress.

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Sesemann initially planned to run at the British Olympic marathon trials earlier this year but missed out on that opportunity due to not having the prerequisite times.

Instead Sesemann focused on the 10km over the summer, a distance he has spent a good deal of his career training for but his marathon aspirations weren’t over.

Since the rescheduling of the London marathon from April to October 2021, in the summer Sesemann decided now was the time to step up.

This would be his first marathon attempt, on home-soil and just six weeks after his half marathon debut.

The time he ran at the London marathon narrowly misses out on the time required for the World Championships but does hit the mark for both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games, both in 2022.

“I did blow up”

Sesemann told the Sports Gazette about his debut:

“Training was going well, I felt really strong. I was a aiming for a little bit quicker to get closer to the world qualifying time. I did blow up in the final six miles through the headwind on my own. I got a little carried away around halfway, but I was still able to maintain a solid pace.”

Mixing up the distances

Despite representing GB at the European Championship in early 2021 over the 3000m, making the switch to marathon training wasn’t a problem for the Leeds City AC athlete.

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 “I’ve always done quite high-volume training; I just have to be a little bit more consistent now. So essentially, just racing a bit less in the build-up. The races that I did do were part of training week. I would emphasise my long runs, pushing the pace. I’d always utilised the long run as a training session, rather than something that you tick off on a Sunday.” [/perfectpullquote]

Sesemann has no plans to stop being doctor.

Alongside training, Sesemann works part-time in A&E at the St James’ Hospital in Leeds.

With the passion to continue both his athletic and medical career, Sesemann decided to work part-time.

“I’ve been fortunate that working part-time has been a choice, but it does come with sacrifices. I get paid a lot less and I’m behind in my career compared to my peers. But I always find the balance of being able to focus on work and also being able to focus on running is great. Having that balance does help.”

With plans to do more marathons in the future, Sesemann plans to stay as a part-time doctor.

Eventually, he wants to focus mainly on medicine, but for now enjoying both is working out just fine.