The Game Changer.
Never, ever, ever, had I been athletic in my life. I would always get my mother to write me a sick note back in secondary school. 1500 meter run? Why would someone do that to themselves? Back then I was a chubby girl who just wanted to eat a lot of chocolate, see my friends and play video games. I’ve not really changed THAT MUCH since then to be honest, apart from the sport side.
It all started when I eventually got sucked into the gym lifestyle to lose some weight, one day I worked up to running 10KM. I felt wonderful! I then tried running outside, I was nervous and scared but I did it and hell, it was a lot harder but it was so freeing. I signed up to a 10k thinking that will be my furthest ever distance..nope! I then did half marathons. I thought to myself “half marathons are hard enough, I’ll never ever be able to do a marathon”. Then after 3 half marathons I thought, why not. I signed up to Manchester Marathon for April 2nd 2017 halfway through 2016. Little did I know the end of 2016/start of 2017, I would be struggling with my mental health.
I went through a really hard time in my life, I suffered severely with depression and anxiety, I was off sick from work, I was too scared to leave the house. It was the worst time of my life. How on earth was I going to complete a marathon?! To be brutally honest, I just didn’t want to exist.
Luckily my mum was very supportive, she encouraged me out the door to just “try” a little run. Once I was out the house, I was fine, I felt great in fact. I had a few complications with different medications which led me to nearly collapse, BUT I overcame this. I focused on fundraising for Diabetes UK due to having a family history of the disease and I was able to finally focus on my exercise programme. The weeks went by, I had a little niggle in my calf which I tried to look after, I focused on training and even did a 20 mile run. What an accomplishment! I felt really positive then all of a sudden, race day was here. I was in disbelief, it was actually here.
My partner and mother supported me on the day and came with me. I checked I had everything about 10 times. I thanked everyone who had donated to the charity, then I left Costa feeling tearful about the challenge I was about to face and how far I’ve come with my mental ill health. I wasn’t going to see anyone that I knew until after the race. Before I had even started, I felt proud of myself for persevering with training after being so poorly.
That was it! I ran it, I chatted to people, I enjoyed every minute of it even though it was hard work! I hit the wall, but I just remembered how much I managed to raise for charity and how I managed to get through the 17 week training programme. The last stretch was difficult but I did it. I never ever thought I would be able to complete a full marathon, I even shed a tear as I crossed the finish line. I was totally overwhelmed! I even managed to run it within a sub 4.30! My finish time was 04:24:27 which I'm pretty happy with for my first marathon.
SO, naturally, I’ve signed up to another marathon although I am dreading the stairs again afterwards. Walking backwards down the stairs is probably the best advice I’ve ever received!
I genuinely believe you can do anything you put your mind too. I run because I can, it makes me happy, I like to fundraise for charities and it helps my mental and physical health. Don’t overthink it, just go out there and run ! You will still be able to play video games afterwards!
Thanks to Sophie for sharing her story and we've no doubt many runners will resonate with her experience.
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