Catching the Running Bug

By Laura Cummings

Growing up, I was never a sporty person – I never had much interest in team sports and was certainly not competitive. If someone had told me back in school that one day I would be a multiple half marathon and team runner, I wouldn't have believed a word.

However, in the summer of 2015, all that changed. I decided I wanted to raise money for my favourite charity – The World Wildlife Fund. After looking through their website I saw they wanted people to run for them and fundraise. So after giving it about 20 minutes of thought, I signed up for the Surrey Half Marathon taking place the following March. I gave myself 6 months to train and go from zero running ability to running 13.1 miles.

What you are thinking right now is likely what I thought at the time; I’ll never be able to do it! Self-motivation is a powerful thing, and with no help whatsoever, I started to train and push myself to my limit. I couldn’t run 1k when I started, though through running the parkrun every Saturday (a 5k timed race held throughout the UK and worldwide) as well as my own training runs, I completed the Surrey Half Marathon in March 2016. When I say completed, I mean to say that I shuffled my broken self across the finish line, complete with extreme cramps and a lot of tears. Although I was proud of my achievement and that I had beaten my fundraising target, I vowed I would never run again.

The morning after I signed up for the Richmond Half Marathon, which was 6 months later. Somehow I was already hooked and knew this would become a huge part of my life. Completing the Richmond Half, though still painful, was a marked difference from Surrey; I realised that I was becoming a better runner and I’d even go as far as to say I enjoyed it!

At the end of 2016 I relocated from London to Derbyshire and decided to join a running team. I now run for the Belper Harriers, a local friendly team. What I didn’t consider was the change in landscape; I had gone from flat road running in London to the extreme hills of Derbyshire! It was a massive change and I found I couldn’t keep up with the team – I felt like I wasn’t a “real” runner. Again perseverance was key, and through regular training runs with my fellow Harriers, I now find I don’t feel so left behind, my confidence is building and I have now competed in a range of events. My running portfolio now includes cross-country, fell running and league races. Though I am usually one of the slower runners, my improvement since joining amazes me and I have become incredibly competitive with myself; I am always pushing for a personal best!

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In June 2017 I ran the Derby Ramathon, and for the first time I can honestly say that I actually “ran” a Half Marathon. This was my first time running the whole distance, and I even managed a sprint finish! I can safely say I well and truly have the running bug, and I am planning to run two Half Marathons a year to hit my goal of running 10!

Running is a challenge - both mentally and physically - but if I can do it, anyone can! It has become a huge part of who I am and has greatly changed my life – and just maybe I can pass the running bug onto you…

Originally published 25/07/17

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