What made you get into running?
Many years ago, I lived in Italy for a while and gorged myself silly on pasta, pizza, ice cream, vino (… you get the picture) and when I returned to the UK needed to get active, so after toying with swimming for a while, I signed up for a Race for Life 5k, joined a slimming club, and unwittingly set about changing my life. I didn’t fall hopelessly in love with running until almost 10 years later when I founded a running group in my village with my husband and some friends, and suddenly realised running is about more than weight loss, or keeping fit; it’s a major part of my life now.
What has been your proudest/best running moment?
There have been so many that it’s hard to single one out, but two particularly emotional ones stand out in my mind, and both involve crossing a finish line hand in hand with my husband: the first was my first ever half marathon – the Great North Run – which he ran by my side; the second was my first ever marathon in London where he waited for me 200m from the finish line (for 40 minutes!) so we could cross it together. Sharing those special moments with him made them all the more powerful and I will never forget them.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced was keeping the running club going while I was heavily pregnant/at home with a newborn. Our club was still in its infancy then, with not many run leaders to call on, and needed a lot of my personal input and time. For a short time, it stopped because I had no energy to put into it. I’m thankful to say that I’m now surrounded, and supported, by a passionate committee and the club has its own momentum and energy now.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
I draw inspiration from many sources in my daily life, but really I set my own goals. Everyone is different and is driven by very diverse reasons. Besides, I like to be the person who inspires, because why shouldn’t I be?
What are your future goals?
I want to continue to enjoy running injury-free for as long as I possibly can, and inspire others to love it too. I have my temporary goals of course, based on achieving particular times or distances, but they’re very fluid. My biggest goal is to leave a legacy with the running club we started – we’ve already helped so many people to change their lifestyles for the better and that to me is the most important gift anybody could ever give.
What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up running?
Get out there, as I did, and just put one foot in front of the other. I never dreamt where my running journey would take me, with a new lifestyle, new friends, new responsibilities, qualifications and even awards(!), so who knows where running may take you. Speaking practically of course, I always tell my beginners not to set out too fast. Slow down, and slow down some more, and you’ll be surprised how long you can actually run for. And never underestimate the importance of a proper gait analysis to find the right running shoes for you!
What is your favourite piece of running kit?
I’m not a gadget girl. All I need to run are my trainers, shorts, vest and a decent sports bra. However, for safety reasons, I do ALWAYS carry my phone when I run, so for that reason I’d have to say my Flipbelt for somewhere safe to keep it.
What’s your favourite thing about running?
The many friends I have made, and am yet to make, along the way. Every week at club I meet somebody new; I’ve made some good friends through our Twitter community too. Running with somebody allows conversation to flow, and you find yourself confiding easily in your running buddies so it makes us a very close knit community. On a more personal level, running has changed me as a person. It has made me more determined; it has given me greater confidence in other areas of my life; it has given me more self-belief. It helps keep me grounded too; when I’m feeling a bit flighty and on edge, and when I’m feeling annoyed at the little things, a run along the trails literally draws me back down to earth and makes me remember what’s truly important – the air that we breathe, and our health and wellbeing.
As it’s Women in Sport Week: What do you think is the biggest challenge for women runners, & how do you overcome them?
Juggling family life with running is difficult. I get a lot of help from my husband, family and friends looking after my daughter but there’s always that innate guilt that I’m out training instead of with her. After doing two marathons, I’ve put off bigger distance goals for a while because they’re taking me away from my family too much; so I’m concentrating on shorter, faster distances for now while my daughter grows, and hopefully in the meantime I’ll inspire her, particular with our family visits to Parkrun.