I’m almost always smiling in pictures of me running. I really can’t get enough of it. I love running so much, I’m in the middle of attempting 6 marathons across 6 consecutive weekends. I like doing it, talking about it, writing about it and spending my money on it. My treasured collection of finisher’s medals would be the one thing I saved if my house was on fire.
My ultimate ambition is to join the exclusive “100 Marathon Club” for (you guessed it) anyone who has run 100 marathons in their lifetime. And with only 93 to go, I’m hopeful.
I was 26 when I started running and a complete beginner. School PE sessions had always been swapped in favour of smoking behind the mobile classrooms, and my idea of exercise was walking between bar and table with a weighty bottle of wine. One Sunday morning I tuned into the BBC to watch 30,000 runners take on the London Marathon and found myself utterly inspired. My first expedition into the sport involved running in-between lampposts after dark, so no one would look at the awkward lady shuffling and wheezing up the Stockwell Rd.
Gradually the shuffling turned to jogging, and distance between lampposts got longer. Feeling bold, I entered my first race, a 10k around central London. It took me well over an hour and I thought my legs might crumple beneath me towards the end, but since then I’ve run in over 40 races and logged thousands of training miles. My “6 marathons in 6 weeks” will take me to Paris, Vienna, Brighton, Blackpool, Belfast and Geneva.
I love running for its simplicity, inclusiveness and the fact that you can do it anywhere, at any time, as long as you have a pair of trainers to hand. Running gives me headspace after a long day in the office and carte blanche to eat actual carbs (shock!). My running routes take me around majestic London parks, gritty urban landscapes and beautiful Kent countryside. People watching as I go makes it impossible to ever get bored.
Sure, there have been some low moments – missing toenails, numerous times I’ve fallen over or picked up an injury and that time I was overtaken in the Brighton Half Marathon by a man dressed as a toilet, but the runner’s high has always shone through. Runners inspire me every single day and if you are ever in need of inspiration I urge you to go and watch a marathon. When I race I see dedication in the speedsters at the front, determination in the plodders at the back, kindness in the charity fun runners, generosity in the race volunteers and encouragement from the proud friends and loved ones spectating on the side. John Bingham, one of my favourite runners tells us that “the amazing thing is not finishing the race, but having the courage to start in the first place”.