The Secret Runner
Sharon, our Strategic Lead for Children and Young People, talks about becoming a secret runner and embarking on a new challenge to improve her fitness and activity levels.
I was once an emphatic hockey player. In my university days, I played Rugby for Welsh Students. I even ran half marathons but time has taken its toll on this once sports ready body. Two children and several knee surgeries later I had slipped into a bit of an ‘inactive’. As a family, I guess we are pretty active walking and cycling at weekends and going on skiing holidays and adventures. But, to be honest, I was certainly the least fit I had been in years.
After some months of deliberating, I decided I should actually get off my backside and get out there and do something. So I embarked on some secret running! I downloaded the Couch to 5km app and started my journey back to some level of fitness.
Becoming a secret runner
So why in secret (although my husband and a very good friend knew)? Well, I work for a charity that ‘Beats inactivity’. In all honesty, I was a little embarrassed that I was one of those inactives – the ones we are trying to convert! I was also afraid of failure. What if I said I was going to do it and I didn’t or couldn’t? Would people judge me?
So, who would know it, I became a slightly obsessed runner. I was squeezing in runs early morning before the family were even out of bed and walking to do the school drop off so I could run the long way home and setting aside ‘me time’ to allow the 30 minutes I needed to get a run in. Before I knew it I had got to the end of the 9-week programme and was running for 30 minutes without stopping.
Running through emotionally difficult times
A few weeks after I started running, my Mum passed away suddenly from undiagnosed Bowel Cancer. It was quite a shock, but I truly believe the time I was focusing on running during this period helped me through the emotionally difficult times. It’s true being physically active helps your mental health and well being; I have definitely seen the benefits.
With the end of my Couch to 5k programme being around the same time as the Southampton Race for Life I decided to celebrate my Mum, and all the support and encouragement she gave me to be active in my youth. I ran the 5km Race for life in her memory and I was delighted that my 10-year-old son ran too.
Sticking with it
Now it’s about maintenance. I just need to keep up and not let it slip. I have promised myself I will run at least a couple of times a week, and now it’s no secret I’ve got my friends and colleagues to remind me to keep it up.