I eventually got bored of my procrastination about going for a run that I finally DID go for a run. I put on the trainers and the essential sports bra and got out the door 13 years ago. I was two stone heaver and a smoker but with a good friend Tara who was training for the London marathon. I didn’t make it to the end of the road without stopping and the next day I felt like I’d been run over, but I did it. Then again. And again. And being me I said to Tara that I’d like to have a goal and what about a half marathon? She laughed a lot at this given I’d only done three miles with stops by then. Undeterred I said let’s get it booked. She said if I could run to Pershore and back (about 10 miles) with her then she would support me – of course she thought I’d massively fail…however with many stops and a lot of moaning I did it. So we signed up.
It was 2006 and back then the Tewkesbury half was a small affair and so I roped my lads (then 10 and 8) to help at the 11 mile marker handing out sponges to cool people down. Well I shocked them as much as me and Tara, and they ran those last 2 miles with me. I was literally crying, partly in pain but mostly with the pride I’d felt in getting round. I then did a few more halves and was hooked. But I still smoked. I was the healthiest smoker I knew! Indeed the healthiest person – never off sick at work.
So I knew I had to do something bigger to finally knock my smoking roll ups habit on the head. I’d lost the weight but not the urge for nicotine. So I signed up to the London Marathon in 2012 and ran for the Kids Diabetes Charity JDRF as my son has type one diabetes. It was the most amazing day of my life…so much so that the following year I did it again – and 4 months after also cycled from Lands End to John O Groats. I called it Fiona’s 1000 mile challenge – 26 running and nearly 980 cycling! I’d raised over £7k for JDRF in those 2 years and it was the fittest I’d ever been.
Now my runs are all off road as I live on the Malvern Hills. Sometimes I take my ipod loaded with dance and trance, sometimes I prefer to listen to the birds. I don’t even track my distance, rarely take a phone and do as much hiking up the steep bits as actual running. I’m not chasing any big goals like marathons these days.
What I get from my runs is what others get from meditation. A sense of peace and feeling at one in the world. I love the freedom of running, the exhilaration of running downhill fast, the way I am conscious of my breathing the way I always come back feeling better than when I set off, in my body and in my head. I love being outdoors and seeing the changing seasons.
At 51 I know my body works better if I keep it moving. I seize up if I spend too long at a desk or in a car. My mind too works better with fresh air and hormones flowing, I’ve often gone out muddled and returned clear headed or with a new creative idea. I’ve yet to come back from a run feeling worst than when I set off. I know at some point my knees might object but for now I’m just tremendously grateful I can run.
Even when I was working stupid hours I fitted in a run, it literally kept me sane. In my new business venture I’m going to combine my love of the outdoors and running with group coaching…and have just become a Fresh Air Fridays Facilitator. More on that next time.