Running Through My Mind
I always knew I could do it, I 100% believed that one day I would run a marathon. Long before I started running, completing a marathon was on my bucket list. I wanted to do it, to prove I could, to myself and to others. Running a marathon may not seem like that big a goal, but when I wrote my bucket list I was a size 22, with a BMI in the high 40’s and my health was far from the top of my priority list.
When my third daughter was born, and I was slowly running out of energy caring for three children 5 and under I knew the time had come, and that bucket list jostled its priorities. I was lucky to have an 18 month career break, and it was the best thing I could have done. Although it took over 2 years, I lost over 7 stone, and then started running as the weight started to drop. I completed my first marathon at Milton Keynes in 2014 and I’ve not looked back.
I have now completed three marathons and am getting ready for my fourth in October. What I have learned from my time running though, the journey is more important than the destination.
My goal to complete the marathon may have been a catalyst for change, but the work it took to get there changed my lifestyle, my outlook, my mental health, as well as my BMI.
When I completed the marathon, I just kept running. Achieving the goal just meant I could now achieve new ones. Running has brought so much more to my life than finish times and medals. Although I somehow always knew I would complete a marathon, the strength it took to get there was unexpected, and the confidence from knowing I had achieved it has been amazing.
After I moved to Leeds I joined Leeds Frontrunners who have been an amazing source of support. It’s not always easy to find time to run when you’re a single mum, but they don’t care if I miss a run, and never ever ask about my PB’s. When they asked me to complete the run leader training a little voice said I can’t do that, I’m not good enough, but the runner in me reminded me just how far I have come!
I don’t need to be the fastest or the best to encourage others, I just need to smile and remind them to keep going, and you know what else? I know how hard the journey is, because I’ve been running it myself for years.
I started running to change my physical appearance, but I honestly can say it changed me on so many more levels. My running now is an ongoing reflection, time for me, almost a meditation as I just focus on breathing and moving (something rare in a busy single parent schedule). Running has not got me where I wanted to go, it has helped me discover who I actually am.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been positive, there have been days when I wanted to quit the run, and days I wanted to stop the journey completely, to go back to big macs and couch potato time. One of my most recent races I was crying at mile 2 and wondering why I put myself through this, but through all the discomfort and doubt, I kept going and crossed the finish line.
When I started running, with one purpose in mind I never dreamed it would bring me friendships, support, confidence, self-awareness and so much more.
I don’t run for speed, or to win, I run to have time to think, or if I run with others, time to laugh. Every race I enter my goal is always to cross the finish line, nothing more. To anyone who runs with a goal in mind – well done – we all run for different reasons, and whatever gets you off the sofa and out the door is a worthy cause.
To anyone who wants to find out who they are, I believe nothing can beat a few hours alone with your thoughts, breathing and moving.
Running has great health benefits, and I suspect my life expectancy is longer now that I have made the changes, my body is stronger, but so is my mind. Now I know that I can achieve anything I set my mind to, that I won’t give up or give in, I will keep going, and knowing that has changed how I see myself. I hope that through sharing my love of running with others I can help them feel this way too.
Looking for support to lose weight? The NHS have a 12 point weight loss plan here: https://runleeds.co.uk/r/nhs-weight-loss-plan/