You may have just signed up to the next C25K programme, be a social runner, enjoy a 10km race or a crazy ultra runner. I think it’s important to remember that it’s not always about the length or how fast you run. It should be more about the reason you run and that will be different for everyone. Whether it’s to lose weight, keep fit, improve your mental wellbeing, be guaranteed ‘you’ time or simply to have fun. That’s the beauty of running, it can be for everyone!
For a new runner, running continuous for 10 minutes is an amazing achievement. For those more experienced, trying to improve their time on their favourite distance is often a goal. Either way, with a bit of belief and focus, you can achieve things that you may never have thought you could.
Back in October, my twin sister (Gemma) decided that she wanted to run a marathon. In the next moment, she was signed up for running 26.2 miles around Brighton – no going back now! With no running background whatsoever, a baby and a 4 year old son recently diagnosed with autism this was not going to be easy. Training was sporadic but she managed to get out on a few little runs and start getting the basics in place. She enjoyed having time for herself and it made her feel good. In December it was time for her first 10km…she was nervous but excited, this would be the longest she had ran before. 1 hour 8 mins later she crossed the line, managing to run non-stop around the Olympic Park route – amazing! The dark nights and busy lifestyle meant she wasn’t getting out as much as she liked but sheer determination was giving her the drive to cross the line. In February, she tackled Tunbridge wells half marathon and then in March, Lydd 20 mile race. She would be first to admit that they were tough, she struggled in parts, but she finished because she believed she could.
Race day, Sunday 9th April, arrived with myself, Gemma, my mum and auntie all ready to run the marathon. We were all running to raise awareness of The National Autistic Society and money to help go towards my nephew’s future support. We soaked up the atmosphere at the start in Preston park and joined the mammoth toilet queues. For me this would be my 6 marathon, but this one would be run completely differently and I was looking forward to supporting my sister around the course. We were not running for a time, just to enjoy the moment and get over the line. We had decided to adopt the run/walk strategy and 11 miles in we both felt great. Then my sister complained of a pain on her side, which wasn’t letting up. In fact it was getting worse. This is why a good training plan is key (the more training runs you do – the more your body adapts). I decided to extend our walking time and take it a little slower and Gemma did great in keeping going. It was clear that it was causing her discomfort but stopping was not an option for her. This was not just a physical challenge for her, it was a mental one too. There were tears and it was very emotional in places, but she needed to do this for herself.
Mile 20 came and at this point we were walking large chunks. It was at this point a spectator went to her son – ‘Look ‘Jack’ that lady is running for you!’. We went over and the lady explained her son was 4 too and that he was also autistic and still not speaking either. My sister and the lady chatted for a moment, more tears followed, but this gave my sister new focus. She wasn’t alone. For anyone who has ever run Brighton will know, this part of the course is a very quiet area and it really is tough to keep going. But as we reached mile 25, my sister was determined to follow my mum’s advice to not walk the last mile. So that’s exactly what we did, the crowds were amazing shouting my sisters name and the final stretch I could feel the tears in my eyes too. We completed the course in 7 hours 9 mins and I was so proud of what my sister had achieved in 5 months. It was a very special moment. A year ago my sister would never have thought, completing 26.2 miles was possible, but she has the medal to prove it is.
So remember whether you just want to run 5km non-stop, get a PB or join the marathon madness – you can. With a bit of belief (and some training) you can achieve those goals.