Fighting Fit: Fencing In My 70s
Susan shares how she found the sport that perfectly suited her.
Date: 28 July 2022 Author: Energise Me
Danielle had always been intrigued by running but was too anxious to go to her first session alone. When she finally did, it opened pathways she had never expected. Now, she's encouraging others to step out of their slippers and into their trainers.
My name is Danielle, and I am Southampton’s Running Mayor. I always took part in fun runs when I was younger; the charity ones where you climb inflatables or get covered in mud! But I was never a serious runner. It was something that I knew I liked but I needed something to get me out there.
I have a poster on my wall that reminds me how good I feel after a run. It’s the motivation I need to stop making excuses.
I was initially drawn to running because I was told that it was cheap. (It’s a lie!) In all honesty, I think it’s a great activity for someone who needs a bit of flexibility in their life. Got a bit of free time? Put on your trainers and get out there. It’s also extremely sociable, as I eventually discovered.
Initially, I wasn’t brave enough to go to my first session alone. So, in the end I dragged a friend along with me. After that, I at least knew a few faces, so I was confident enough to keep attending. It’s the best thing that I ever did. Through my club I have been to places that I never thought possible. If anyone told me that I would be running a half marathon in Barcelona one year I never would have believed them.
One thing that I think a lot of people struggle with is the mentality towards running. Some people miss a few runs and think that they’ve ruined all of their hard work. (They haven’t!) While other people talk themselves out of going due to the rain, tiredness etc. I have a poster on my wall that reminds me how good I feel after a run. It’s the motivation I need to stop making excuses.
Danielle now runs to the shop instead of driving.
If it’s a busy time at work, then I will run on Saturday and Sunday mornings. If I have more time, then I will go out after work during the week. I have been known to get up before work and run as the sun rises but that is very rare for me.
One of the many disadvantages of lockdown was that many runners were forced to run alone. I found that I was running when I’d normally be commuting to work, so that was how I adapted. As a result, I am now very happy to run on my own. I like listening to music as I run. However, as a member of a running club, I can attend group runs on many nights of the week. Mostly, we message each other saying when we’re planning on running and you can usually find some company that way.
As part of the #RunSome campaign, we mayors champion running. Anyone can run and there is no set distance or time. Any journey can become a run. The National Travel Survey found that 68% of trips that people make are under 5 miles. I’ve found that I’ve turned many of my ‘I’m just popping to the shops’ into short runs rather than going by car. It’s much more fun that way. So, if you’ve seen someone running down the road holding some garlic bread, then that’s probably me!
I have learnt the impact that one small person can have on others.
Running has opened up so many doors for me. I have been working on my 5k performance and I have brought that down to a time that I never thought I could achieve. Not only that, but during lockdown, I saw the campaign calling for applicants to become Running Mayor of Southampton. I took a shot and decided to go for it. I think I realised how short life was and thought that I had nothing to lose by applying.
As mentioned, I was successful in my application. And as running mayor, I have been lucky enough to meet Southampton’s official mayor and stand on the start line of the Southampton Marathon.
In that way, I have learnt the impact that one small person can have on others. Many people have commented about my photos or my posts. They have said that I’ve encouraged them to get out and run or inspired them to try running. I never thought that I would have that sort of impact upon others. It’s a great feeling to have helped someone else.
I also don’t worry about time or distance. Running should be fun, so go to those beautiful places and take the photos.
The #RunSome campaign aims to get more people active. Some mayors focus on run commuting and some focus on campaigning for more facilities to help people run to work. (Better routes, showers and lockers, for example.) I am focusing on helping anyone who is nervous about getting their foot out of the door to give it a go. That’s why I run to the shops or to the bakery. It’s something that anyone can aim for. I also don’t worry about time or distance. Running should be fun, so go to those beautiful places and take the photos. I always have my phone on me to capture a cute animal or a random garden decoration that’s made me smile.
Danielle in the middle of a 10k.
If you haven’t been lucky or confident enough to join your local running club, then you won’t know how friendly they are. I have been to many different events (not all running) with the people that I have met through running. So, please don’t be afraid to try. It’s such a welcoming, understanding and supportive community. They only want what you want for yourself.
I promise you that no-one is looking at what you are wearing when you run or judging your form or timing you. They are too busy trying to keep up their pace so that they can slow down again once you have run by them. Running can be the start of an unexpected adventure, and I would encourage everyone to unleash their inner explorer and give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?
To keep up with Danielle’s activity, follow her Instagram.