Paula Radcliffe in training for her swansong in 2015 London Marathon

• World record holder back in training in Kenya
• 'I'd like to run one more and finish on my terms'

Paula Radcliffe wants to race the London Marathon next year as a swansong after revealing she is back running two hours a day. Radcliffe, who turned 40 in December, thought her career was over when a stress fracture in her left foot forced her to miss the Olympics in 2012 and stopped her from running for nine months.

She is back training with the British team in Kenya and believes that she can get into shape for a final hurrah on the Mall without her body breaking down.

"I'm not being unrealistic," she said. "I'm not thinking I can get back and run 2hr 15min, but if I could come back and run like a sub 2hr 30min then I'd like to do it. I'm not saying I could win London or New York but I would like to just run one more and finish on my terms. I'd just like the chance. London would be my sentimental choice. It's where I started my career, my dad ran it when I was a kid, and then there was missing out on the Olympics at London 2012."

Radcliffe has won the London and New York Marathons three times, the world championship in 2005, and still holds the world record for the distance (2:15.25) which she set in 2003. She is, by a stretch, Britain's greatest female distance runner.

The latter stages of her career have been plagued by injuries. She has not run a marathon since finishing third in Berlin in September 2011, where she ran 2:23:46, and not raced since a half-marathon in Vienna in April 2012.

Radcliffe insists that she is not too old or infirm to compete at the top level one final time – although she admits that her doctors don't know whether her foot will stand up to the strain of preparing for a marathon.

"I don't think it's ever clinically about your age, it's just about the state of your body," she said.

"When the doctors scan my foot it does not look normal because the bone that had the stress fracture is not the same shape as it should be. If I run every day I might keep wearing away at the cartilage and make it bigger and more painful than it was in 2012."

What frustrates Radcliffe most is that it is not a question of cardiovascular fitness or being in pain; merely that her foot does not pick up properly when she runs.

"I am still limping and favouring it for the first couple of miles until the joint warms up and it starts absorbing a little bit more but when it becomes tired I pick up the leg rather than toe off," she explained. "For the effort that I'm putting in I'm running slower than I should be."

Radcliffe wants to hear the London roar one last time but she will not risk permanent injury.

"I've missed the buzz of racing," she said. "Whatever adrenaline spikes you go into you can't replace that feeling. It's something I'm good at, something I've put a lot of work into. But at the same time I don't want to do anything silly. There was a time from July 2012 until last April that I couldn't run at all and I seriously thought I would never be able to run again. I'm grateful that I can just get up and run now."

"I don't want to jeopardise that. I don't want to break down my foot, I want to listen to it. I want to still be able to run with my kids."


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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