What made you get into running?

Over the years since leaving school I’ve done a few charity fun runs but as soon as they were done with, I stopped bothering to run.

In the last few years I have completed 2 Shine overnight walking marathons for Cancer Research. I really enjoyed my walking training but as with most challenges of this type some people would scoff and say “oh you’re just walking it”. To anyone that has ever done one of these events there is no “just” about it.

After my second event I thought I would finally give running a go. I went out with the hubby but quickly got distressed when I realised that I couldn’t cover anywhere near the distance I could walk. I was red, sweaty and felt like I was letting us both down. I gave up.

Then by coincidence, my husband ( a runner when I met him at 16 but struck down with glandular fever when he was 17/18) heard of a club session at the local running track that took place at the same time as a kids athletics session. This meant we could all go along.

I didn’t go the first time as it was our wedding anniversary…I sat and sulked eating chocolate. They both came back full of wonder having had a great time.

So I put my big girl pants on and went along the next week. That was the real start of my running journey…in fact by the time you see this it will be my 1st runniversary!

What has been your proudest/best running moment?

My proudest moment so far was probably completing my first ever parkrun in October at Braunstone. Having run my first none stop 2km tail running at a trial run of Aylestone Junior parkrun a few weeks earlier, I felt more confident I could complete the distance.

Fortunately I bumped into a lady from our track sessions. She offered to run with me and off we went. She used her Garmin to tell me how far we had gone and how much time was left. I kept pushing and managed to run the whole way. As well as setting my first parkrun time, I earnt my first ever virtual run medal for Bliss baby charity.

I’ve never forgotten what an impact having some support that day had on me. From that point I felt able to say “yes, I am a runner”.

Oh and I’ve helped set up a new parkrun in Market Harborough where I have been Run Director a few times now – love it!

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Here I am being Run Director at Market Harborough parkrun

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

My biggest challenge is always to keep pushing myself and not give in. Running is just as much about being mentally strong as well as physically strong!

Every run is a challenge!

My biggest running challenge was probably my first cross country on the 25th May this year. It was only a 5 mile route (shortened slightly by badger sets – thank you badgers!) but quite undulating. I knew there would be a small group of runners. I was lucky enough to get childcare sorted the night before but had done no practice that week.

As any parent will know, you aren’t going to pass up a run if childcare is in place!

I set off well but soon felt the heat and had to talk myself into keeping my feet going. Nearly half way through I developed the worst stitch I’d ever had and actually thought I’d pulled a muscle.

I pushed on and managed a sprint finish up the last incline. So far it looks like I came last!

Whilst the run itself was challenging, the biggest challenge is to walk away from a run like that and try to only take positives away from it.

I hope to have the chance to do it again next year.

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Who is your inspiration, and why?

I take inspiration from everyone!

I am now a Run Leader after completing my Leadership in Running Fitness course in February.

I love taking my beginner running groups as I am always impressed with the determination and positive attitude my runners have.

The biggest impact on my life has been parkrun. From volunteering to running, there is no better feeling than being part of that community. No matter how good a runner you are, every effort is appreciated.

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 A family affair: This is me (with beard), my sister Katie and my son Ewan volunteering at Braunstone parkrun at the end of last year

 

What are your future goals?

I have lots of goals!

I would love to be able to complete my Coach in Running Fitness course so that I have more knowledge to share with my runners.

I am hoping to run my first half marathon at Leicester in October and I have crazily entered the VLM ballot!

My main goal at the moment is to help all of my beginner runners to the point where they can run 5km without stopping. We are hoping to “graduate” at a parkrun event. I see that as the launchpad to being able to really believe in yourself.

What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up running? 

Gosh just one piece…

Nope can’t do it! It’s going to have to be two!

One – try your first few runs in your old trainers and once you are ready to invest, go and get your gait analysis done at a proper running shop. The amount of my beginners that have now done so and have seen such an improvement in their comfort and running style shows me this is a must.

Two – find a running buddy or join a beginner group as soon as you can. Running with others is the best way to keep motivated. I love running with my run buddy. We help to push each other along on our runs. Joining a beginner group or getting involved with your local parkrun will also help you to find a run buddy.

Do both of these things and you won’t look back I promise!

Oh and did I mention parkrun?

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This pic is me a few weeks ago after my first ever run on holiday! We were in Spain and saw lots of runners / cyclists out each day.  Will Defo pack trainers from now on!

What is your favourite piece of running kit?

Tough call between my trainers and my many, many pairs of running leggings / shorts!

And finally, what’s your favourite thing about running?

I’m lucky enough to live in the Countryside so my favourite thing is finding new routes or seeing the way old routes have changed.

I love the benefits that running brings, whether that be fitness, new communities, improved mental health or just a bit of me time. There really is nothing better!

 

As it’s Women in Sport Week: What do you think is the biggest challenge for women runners, & how do you overcome them?’

I think the biggest challenge (after childcare) is our own self confidence and belief that we can get out there and get running.

I was always one of those people that would almost apologise and say “oh no, I’m not a runner I could never do that!”.

That’s another reason I love parkrun and the community it creates. There will always be your super speedy runners but it also caters for every spectrum of ability. It really is a genuinely inclusive event…as long as you have your barcode with you, you can take part and be cheered on and supported just as much as the “elite” runners that may have finished 20+ minutes before you.

It’s also why I love being a Run Leader. I get to share my spark and enthusiasm with my runners. I love to support and build up my ladies so that they will hopefully see what I see, determined athletes that are improving week on week.

Only by supporting each other will we get more people running.

Next time you’re out running, how about high fiving another runner? I’ve done it a few times and have yet to have a negative response. Go on, I dare you!

Update from Emma March 2016:

Update since then is I’m just a month away from my Coach in Running Fitness assessment and I won a place at the London Marathon, running for a small local charity called Move set up by Charnwood athlete Gemma Hillier-Moses (6th in the 3000m indoor athletics and her hubby Lewis Moses won bronze in the 1500m). Following Gemma’s own cancer journey she remained physically active, running the Great North Run. Now she will be working with young cancer patients to come up with physical activity plans and provide 1:1 support to them.