On the Spot – Philly Smyth

When did running begin for you?

I was really active at school, much preferring to be outside running about than behind a desk, but a key moment in my running ‘career’ was when I was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) in 2008 and underwent surgery. Thankfully the surgery was successful and I was advised and encouraged by my cardiologist to get out running. So, I did and I haven’t looked back. I consider myself hugely privileged to have discovered my condition and to be in a position where I can be active and push myself to achieve my goals. Many of my fellow CHD patients are not so lucky.

Why do you run?

For so many reasons! Primarily, I love the outdoors and like nothing more than sticking on my trail shoes and heading off into the hills, returning covered in mud, with tales of wrong turns, overgrown footpaths and ‘you’ll never guess what I saw’! I also like a challenge and the inevitable highs and lows of training and racing. Also, like many others I appreciate the benefits of running for my mental health and wellbeing.

What race or moment in your running career holds the most significance and why?

The first race I did after my heart surgery was the Great South Run in Portsmouth in 2009. I had no idea if I’d even get to the end or if I’d end the day in an ambulance! But I did it and absolutely loved it and definitely got the racing ‘bug’ after that.

Who is your running inspiration?

It might sound cheesy, but I guess my inspiration is really the opportunity I’ve been given to give this running malarkey a good go! Thanks to the fantastic treatment I have received and knowing what I know, I am able to get out there and achieve my goals. I am acutely aware that my condition will degenerate but for now its onwards and upwards!

What event, past or present, would you like to take part in and why?

I love watching documentaries about long distance races like ‘Finding Traction’ about female ultra-runner, Nikki Kimball and would love to do one of the crazy American trail races.

What golden piece of advice would you give to other runners?

Run for you and your own reasons. Don’t compare yourself (or your abilities) to anyone else. We are all different. So be determined and get out there and enjoy it.

What’s next?

I’ve entered a wide variety of races this year and in February I have at least one race every weekend! I love team events and am really looking forward to the Green Belt Relay in May. I am also looking forward to my first marathon in September (if I don’t get over-excited and enter one before that!!)

Who would you like to nominate?

Harriet Irving


Posted in Runners Blogs.

One Comment

  1. You are an inspiration Philly. Amazing achievement to overcome CHD and not let it stop you from achieving your goals.

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