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A brief history of (my) running

I started running in February 2011. In November 2010, I weighed 16.5 stones and was so unfit, I could barely walk to the shops and back without getting out of breath. I decided a radical change was needed – I dramatically altered my eating habits (and the amount I was eating) and began to exercise, starting out with 30 minutes per day on the cross trainer in my garage.

Inspired by the women’s running club who would pass our house each Tuesday and Thursday, I started on the Couch to 5k programme in February 2011. I still remember the incredible sense of achievement I felt the first time I ran for 10 minutes without stopping, something I never thought I could do even just a few weeks before. Just a couple of months later, I joined the club and have been a member of Potters Trotters ever since (

My initial aim was to be able to take part in the Race for Life in June 2011 alongside my mother-in-law, raising money for Cancer Research and showing support for my Dad, who was undergoing cancer treatment. I completed the 5km route in just over 30 minutes. My mother-in-law Pat didn’t get to take part though, as she was diagnosed with bowel cancer just a few weeks before the run. She still passionately supported my fundraising and together we raised £400.

Without the encouragement of my club mates and running buddies, I’m not sure I’d still be running. In April 2013, I completed the Greater Manchester Marathon in 4:08:04 (even managing a negative split) – this fantastic picture shows me coming down to the finish line with my club mates cheering me on in the background, definitely one of my proudest running moments and an almost perfect running day (even if the route was later found to be “short” by a few hundred yards).

I lost my Dad to cancer in 2012 and fundraising for Cancer Research in his memory was a huge motivation in successfully completing that first marathon challenge. A few weeks after my mother-in-law died later in 2013, I took part in the Bupa Great Manchester Run in her memory.

As well as helping me to cope with times of stress and grief, running has helped my long term health and well being too. I now have a healthy weight and the change in my overall fitness has been amazing.

In 2013, as well as running on the track in the Olympic Park, I took part in 14 races as part the North Staffs Road Runners Association. In November 2013, I completed my 14th race of the year with another group win, giving me 12 wins for the season and top spot in my group. I’m incredibly proud of this achievement and have been encouraged and supported my so many people along the way, especially Mr T who has also taken up running himself.

Another big achievement in 2013 was reaching the very important milestone of 50 parkruns. I proudly wore my red 50 club t-shirt and also really enjoy my recently acquired role of co-event director at Hanley parkrun. In 2014, I reached 100 parkruns and in 2015 became eligible for a new parkrun volunteer t-shirt. It has been great to see Hanley parkrun develop over the last few years and it is a real inspiration to my running. I’m also a parkrun ambassador, which means I will hopefully help to get new parkruns started.

Having missed out in the open ballot for the VM London Marathon, I was lucky enough to be awarded a club place in the April 2014 event. It was an emotional day but I was really glad to take part, even if everything didn’t quite go to plan. I also joined up with a team of running bloggers to tackle first a 12 hour relay event and then a 24 hour event – loved them both, especially running on my own in the dark!

There have been plenty more up and downs on my running journey – 2015 was a year of interruptions caused by injury, illness and travelling the world. In 2016, I was back to taking on new challenges. I completed the Millennium Way Ultra Marathon in March and took part in lots of new races – embracing doing something new, with races in Blackpool, Lake Vyrnwy, Chirk, Macclesfield, running in the dark in the Peak District and at Thunder Run and many more. I also had a version of this story included in a book of Sporting Stories, published as part of Stoke-on-Trent’s year as the European City of Sport.

In 2017, I focused on my adventures in ultra running and completed the D33 Ultra in Aberdeen and my most incredible, exhausting, ridiculous and challenging experience to date… the Race to the King – 53 miles across the South Downs. I also completed my Coach in Running Fitness qualification, supported by Potters Trotters, a grant from Stoke-on-Trent City of Sport and a Women in Coaching Bursary from England Athletics.

In 2018, running took backward step after injury, illness and work all got in the way and parkrun volunteering kept me busy too – supporting 4 new events to get started in the space of 9 months. I did manage the occasional run though… including my fastest parkrun in 4 years, 5 laps at Thunder Run and a return to night-running at Delamere Forest in October.

In 2019, I returned to long running and completed another ultra – 33 miles mainly along the Thames and finishing in Windsor – and completed my 250th parkrun. With some focused training and a lot of effort, I completed my fastest parkruns since 2014 and was looking forward to more big challenges before 2020 hit. Running, and most other things, have taken a back seat although I did complete 100k on my exercise bike and a few virtual events too. 2021 followed a similar pattern to 2020... but with even less running.

But I'm sure there will be more running adventures to come.


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