How did you get into running and why?

Early 2015 I decided that I needed to do something that was for me. I have tried many sports over the years, mountain biking (fell off a few times); yoga and Pilates (I got bored); Swimming (I got bored swimming up and down); hill walking (those hills!!!), Aerobics (my coordination isn’t that great) to name a few and with two children, at the time one in primary and one in nursery and a busy full time job, time was precious. I decided that running was something that I could do without much planning, put on a pair of running shoes and off I go. I had not really done any running since I was at school, and it was the dreaded announcement that “todays PE lesson is Cross Country”.

I had heard of parkrun and decided that one day I would do one. I ran for a few months, and then on the 15 March 2015 completed my very first parkrun in Darlington. I do not think I embarrassed myself too much. I went back each week and some weeks improved. But then swimming lessons with my youngest daughter started on a Saturday morning, a busy start of term at work and changing my role at work paused my running and parkrun journey.

I restarted running on 01 January 2016 (like most people), hung over doing a parkrun.  Then I went back again week after week. I had the bright idea of trying to get in Great North Run through the ballot – I did not really think about what it involved at the time. I got a place, and then thought how I am going to do this. I joined “These girls can run” running group, and they encouraged me to enter races! I went a bit mad and entered lots of races in 2016/2017, including Darlington 10km, Croft Pit Stop (my first ever 10km race) Richmond 10km, Brass Monkeys, Sunderland Half to name  a few. The social aspect of the group was also a bonus I did not expect.

I joined the Quakers Running Club in January 2019, to try to improve, to have structure to my training, to push myself further to try to improve my running.  I was nervous walking into the club room on that first night. But the techniques and advice that I have been given has helped me greatly.

My running journey to date has had its ups and downs over the 5 years or so that I have been running. I got my first sub 1hr 10km (59:27) at Croft 10km, and Mermaid 2019 (first race as a Quaker) and got a 58:18 10km; and most recently sub 25 minutes at Darlington parkrun. I had the running experience from hell at Darlington 10km 2017 when my head went and every step was awful, to Darlington 10km 2018 (and two other races) where I crossed the line and passed out (I over heated!).  To Santa runs at West Park at Christmas, which is a little silly, yet festive. What I sight the residents must have with a couple of hundred Santa’s running past their houses.

What kept you going when you first started running?

In the first few months, it was parkrun; going back each week to try to improve my time. Then it was getting a place in GNR 2016 the thought of running in the iconic race and finishing it. Then it was the feeling that there were other people like me, just running as an exercise that they can fit in around their busy family schedule and working life. It was the friendships that I made and the support that others gave.

I think I was hooked when I took my running shoes on holiday and have done since 2016.

My eldest daughter completing parkruns also keeps me going, she says she hate it and does not want to go, but really enjoys it when she is there (especially if she can have an ice lolly afterwards). This keeps me going now, as it is also something that we can do together.

How much training do you typically do each week?

I have always tried to run on a Saturday morning and a Tuesday evening. Never a great number of miles per week, probably around 7 – 10 miles per week up until recently. Since this lockdown period started my running weekly mileage has increased to probably around 20 miles per week, and I try to get out Saturday morning, and then two nights per week.

My usual 3.1 miles on a Saturday has increased to anywhere between 6 miles and 11 miles. Long run Saturday or Saturday parkrun day is my time, and most weeks our family time must fit around my hour or so out running. Tuesday evenings is also sacred, unless one of us is working late.

Be honest, do you enjoy training?

No, not really, but I keep doing it and going back, so I must do really.  I enjoy the social side of running; speaking to the odd person whilst training. I do manage to filter my problems into an organised state whilst running. Many runs have solved my timetabling issues and thought through answers to the numerous work problems that occur daily in the life of a head of construction and building services department.

Do you do any other sports or fitness activities?

My husband got me a Gym Membership at Christmas 2019. I am not sure what he was trying to tell me!!!! However, up until the pandemic and a lockdown, I did enjoy going to the gym as well as running.

Do you manage to fit in any other hobbies?

With two children, their activities, my running, and a full-time job I am not sure that I can fit anything else into my working week. But I do like baking cakes, scones, and biscuits when I do have some spare time.

Tell us about some of the races that you’ve done in the past.

I have completed GNR three times (2016, 2017 and 2019) and improved my time each time. I loved each time for completely different reasons, the atmosphere is electric and is still my PB course for a half marathon. I loved my first race as a Quaker – Mermaid 10km and the support that I was given than morning to get a sub one hour 10km. I do not enjoy Croft 10km – the three laps in my eyes are soul destroying. Richmond 10km those hills – never again. Darlington 10km – my hometown race, but I have had a love/hate relationship with this one, but I beat those demons with it in 2019. Missing it not occurring this year. Aycliffe 10km  – those loops but a lovely race. Sunderland half was just hard work – not a favourite.

What’s your current running goal?

It was to improve on my official 10km PB at Darlington 10km this year. But I managed to get an unofficial 10km PB whilst running around the streets of Darlington one Saturday morning during this lockdown period. So now to do it for real in a race.

I did achieve my goal of a sub 25 at Darlington Park run on the 29 Feb 2020. Now I would like to think I could just shave a few seconds off that.

But my goal should really be, just to keep enjoying running.

What are your longer term running goals?

I would like to think I would do a marathon before I am 50 but concerned that I could not commit fully to the training that is required. I keep entering the ballot for London, and if got a place, I would get round somehow! I think I will be about 65 before I am at the top of the list for the Quakers places.

A sub 2 hours half marathon would be great, and probably more realistic.

What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?

I have only run road as a terrain. Distance – I am not entirely sure as each distance requires a different level of effort. But I have not run an official 10-mile race. So maybe that is one to try.

What are your proudest running achievements?

Getting a good sub one hour at Mermaid 10km (58:18) and Darlington 10km (57:45) in 2019. Taking 11 minutes off my previous GNR time in 2019. Finally, my sub 25 in February 2020 at Darlington parkrun.

 Anything in your running experience you regret?

Being very self-critical of my running. This nearly brought my running journey to an end in 2018.

How many pairs of trainers/ running shoes do you have and do you have a favourite pair?

I only have 1 pair of running shoes that I wear. My old pair is now my gym pair. I do find it difficult to choose new running shoes, I have wide feet, which seems to limit my options and I like running shoes that are a “nice” colour.

What’s your idea of running heaven?

Running with people. Running with my daughter (she may also be cycling).  Running in the rain. Running when everything is going well, and I feel strong.

What’s your idea of running hell?

Running in hot temperatures and running up hills.  Running when you release about a mile into the run that it is not going to be great and you end up just going through the motions.

What is the best piece of running advice you’ve ever been given?

Drop your shoulders, they do not belong around your ears, hold your hands as if you are holding a packet of crisps. Also, move your arms faster and your legs will catch up. I do think of all these things regularly when running.

Any advice to newcomers to running?

Enjoy it. You will have good runs and bad runs; some days runs are hard and some days you will feel like you could be Mo.  Do not be scared to get back out if you have missed a few weeks. Life does sometimes get in the way of running. Join a club and you will realise that you are not as bad at running as you think you are. Generally, it is just one foot in front of the other and you keep building speed, whether that speed if is a 7-minute mile or a 12-minute mile.

What keeps you going when the going gets tough in a hard race?

I run through songs in my head. Then I think that my girls will be waiting for me at the end of that race to give me a hug.

How do you relax/reward yourself after a race?

I do not think I reward myself at the end of a race. I probably over analyse how I have done, have a cup of tea and a biscuit or a piece of cake. I really cannot eat masses at the end of a race.

If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?

There are so many lovely places to run, so this is a tricky one but somewhere with atmosphere and scenery.