Hi, I’m Kirsty. I used to think I was just an average person, but now I feel like superwoman! Not because I look after lots of children or work 100-hour weeks, but because I can run. A lot. For a long time. I can’t quite place how or when it happened, but sometime in the last 10 months or so I became obsessed. I love running. It makes me feel free and powerful, like I can beat anything the world has to throw at me.
Let me start at the beginning. It all began when I turned 30. Well just before then actually. I felt like I was having a turning-30 crisis and needed to get some focus. My life consisted of going to work, doing a bit of exercise, eating, sleeping and occasionally seeing my friends. I was struggling to come to terms with the death of my mum almost 3 years earlier and often found myself breaking down because I just couldn’t deal with my grief. I completed a marathon in April 2016 which left me feeling slightly empty, instead of elated, and I could see myself falling back into my casual relationship with running. I was also scared about turning 30, although I can’t quite place why, so I decided to make it about running to chase that feeling of elation once again. And so I pledged to run 30 miles a week for a year to raise money for The Running Charity.
I found out about The Running Charity when researching smaller charities to fundraise for. I spoke to Lucy at The Running Charity, who told me about the fantastic work that they do to help young homeless people both physically and mentally, and who encouraged and motivated me to start my fundraising project. What particularly resonated with me was that the charity promote not just physical wellbeing, but also mental wellbeing, through running. I know from my own experience that there is nothing better to help you through difficult times than being able to go for a run.
At first I struggled to run 30 miles a week every week. I hadn’t anticipated that keeping up that level of mileage week after week might not be what my legs (or head!) wanted. About 2 months in to the challenge my running almost became a chore, which was not helped by my aching and tired legs. It was then that running became all about plodding along the pavements at a very comfortable pace. To shake things up a bit, I decided to start entering some races again here and there to give me some focus – a half marathon, a trail 10K, and a trail half marathon soon developed into a marathon and trail marathon, culminating in an ultra-marathon in May 2017.
It’s not all been smooth sailing, and I have struggled to complete the 30 miles during some weeks, particularly when I was ill or had some injuries (most of which related to over-training in the approach to my ultra-marathon), but I’ve managed to keep up running 30 miles a week with the help of a trail running club which I joined at the start of 2017. It’s so ingrained now, that I don’t know what to do with myself if I have to take a few days off to rest my legs!
I’ve really enjoyed the journey from more-or-less casual runner to obsessed-runner, and don’t think that this love affair will end any time soon, although it will probably become less intense as time passes. My next major goal – after completing the London to Brighton Ultra Challenge – is to join the 100 Marathon Club. Hopefully my body and mind will stick with me on that! I can’t think of a better or more enjoyable way to look after my own physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s been amazing spending the year fundraising for such a fantastic charity, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the difference the money is making to those who are seeing the benefit of it in their lives. Good luck to you all for the future. Happy running. Love, Kirsty xxx