I haven’t always been a runner, not even close. I played a lot of sport at school because it was fun and gave me something to do. I was at boarding school and being on the sports teams kept us busy, and meant our parents could come and watch our matches! I ran the 100m and did the long jump as my athletics contribution, and dreaded the days that we had to run the 1500m or run suicides in hockey practice (running the lines of the hockey field- 25m, 50m, 75m, 100m and back again multiple times).
During University I played netball occasionally, and joined the gym in my third year, going halfheartedly a few times a week. I left Uni slightly overweight, and really unfit. During my gap year travelling we did a lot of sporty adventures, including cycling down Death Road (the most dangerous road in the world in Peru), cycling down Cotopaxi (volcano in Equador), and hiking Mount Kinibalu (highest mountain in Southeast Asia), but I also ate and drank a lot!
Back in London I decided to set myself a huge challenge and do something in memory of my friend Vic, who had sadly taken his own life in June 2009 after suffering from depression. I signed up to run the London Marathon and raise money for MIND. I started training immediately, building up to a mile, and from there up to 3 miles. I remember having to complete a 10K training run on a family holiday to Oman. I roped my cousins in to running it with me at the hotel gym (far too hot to run outside!) and was disheartened to see they all finished 15K in the same time it took me to run 10!
I trained hard throughout the winter, making up to 18 miles before I was struck with a knee injury and unfortunately had to defer my London Marathon entry. Instead of staying fit and keeping up my running fitness throughout the next 6 months, I stopped completely. Of course, that made it so much harder to start again, building back up from nothing. This time I did things a little differently though, I chose an 18 week training programme from Hal Higdon, and joined a gym. I started including strength work into my routine as well as shorter, speedier treadmill runs, as well as signing up for races to use as training runs. This is where my love of races and medals began!
I ran my first 5K in December 2010 – the RNLI 5K in Regent’s Park with my Step-Dad, finishing in just under 30mins. I didn’t run in the antlers or nose because I wanted to get a good time, HA!
I completed the Bath Half, Marlow half and Portsmouth Half in 2012 as training for the London Marathon, clocking in times between 2.11-2.17. I was pleased with how I’d run, and couldn’t imagine myself ever running faster! Luckily, my friend Emily was running the London Marathon that year too, so we ran our 20 miler together across London. It was so much more fun than running alone that we decided to run the actual marathon together too. It was such a help to have her there to get each other through the tough times. We crossed the finish line holding hands in 4.54.59!
Luckily this time, I didn’t stop running after completing the marathon, joined a gym closer to my work, and fell in love with exercise classes. I continued to run my usual 3 mile route as well as regular interval sessions on the treadmill, plus plenty of BodyPump classes. Fast forward to January 2013 and I decided to sign up for a half marathon in Eastbourne with some friends, without looking at the course profile (I will never learn!). I trained a little bit, including a 10 miler just to check I could finish the distance, and actually had a really great race. I finished in 2.06– my first sub 10 min mile race, and felt great throughout. I had got my running/racing mojo back!
Around this time I signed up to go to a free run club held at Whole Foods in Piccadilly, organised by Boutique Sport, these runs were training for the Energizer Night Run (a 5 and 10K through Battersea Park). I met Leah there on my first session, running and chatting with her all the way round London. I started attending sessions every week, and met some lovely ladies that I’m still friends with now. These 3 mile runs in the dark and rain reaffirmed my love of outdoor running, whatever the weather!
I kept running regularly, and when I was given the chance to run the New York Marathon in November 2013, I jumped at it. With just 10 weeks to train, I asked for the expert advice from Gia, who guided me through tempo runs, 400m repeats, easy runs and double day workouts. Training paid off, and I loved almost every moment of the 26.2 miles through New York City. I finished in 4.09- 45 minutes faster than my first marathon and speedier than I would have dreamed of.
Of course, lots of runners cross the finish line and have their sights set on their next marathon or race. I started thinking about the next 4 marathons, wondering whether I could complete all 6 Marathon Majors.
I ran the Paris marathon (Not a marathon major) in April 2014, finishing disappointingly 37 seconds over my goal- 4.00.37. I was gutted, but knew that my training had been sub par for this marathon- a mistake I wouldn’t make again.
The fire to run a sub 4 finish was well and truly lit! I entered the lottery for the Berlin marathon and was thrilled to get a place. I trained really, really hard throughout the summer – hitting pretty much every workout on point. I felt in a great place before starting the race, however the race wasn’t pretty. I struggled through every mile from 16 onwards- but I made it, crossing the finish line in 3.49!
I’ve been on a bit of a running sabbatical this year, choosing to take lots of classes instead of racing all that much. But I’m lacing up my trainers again, and about to throw myself fully back into training for the Chicago Marathon in October- major number 4! If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that PUMA recently set me a 21 day challenge to re-ignite my running and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed a bit of a kick up the bum to get going again! My not-so-secret A goal for Chicago is to run a BQ (Boston Qualifying time of 3.35), it means running really, really fast for me and I’ll need all the help I can get!
I’ll be blogging my training here over the summer- be sure to follow along! In the meantime, I’d love to know YOUR running story- leave a comment below or for an extra entry write your own blog post about your running journey to be in with a chance to WIN A PAIR OF PUMA IGNITE trainers! Competition is open to UK and US- closes 11.59pm 19th June.
This post is sponsored by PUMA.