I am so pleased to be able to share with you Sarah’s story. My biggest inspiration and motivation, the one who probably has influenced my running so far. It isn’t just Sarah’s attitude to running, but how it extends to her whole family.
I’m 47 years old and have been running since I was 20. I describe my running as ‘quite fast for a normal person’. I am stronger and faster now than I ever was in my early 20s. For the last year I’ve been running five times a week, totalling 27 miles – two four mile runs, one six mile run, a Saturday 5k and 10 miles on Sunday.
Why Sarah Runs
I’ve never been a member of a club or had a coach. Running is something I do for myself, usually by myself (although in recent years I have run with my husband on Sundays). I enjoy races and I like a PB as much as the next person, but that’s not why I run. I run to feel fit and healthy and for the sense of wellbeing and headspace it gives me. Nothing stops me running – I never lack the motivation, I just go.
The First Run
It was my husband who persuaded me to start running in 1994. Our first run was probably a mile and I had to stop and walk twice. I hated it. But after two or three more runs, I started to like it, then to love it. Before I knew it, I was running around two and a half miles most mornings of the week.
First Half Marathon
A year after that first run, my husband and I ran Nottingham half marathon. We ran it in exactly two hours and it was hard. A year later, we trained a bit better and managed to knock three minutes off our time.
Family Life and Running
I moved from Nottingham to London and then home to Gloucestershire. I was working full time, but still fitting in two and a half miles most mornings until I got pregnant with my eldest in 2000. I stopped running for my three pregnancies and for the first couple of months after giving birth, but I always went back to it. Although with small children at home and a full-time job, I was down to two runs of about a mile and a half a week.
When my daughter started school in 2010, I could run more again and trained up for Bath half marathon 2011. I scraped over the finish line in 1:59:54. For the next few years, I did a half marathon or two a year. By the end of 2019, I’d run 19 half marathons and my PB (achieved in 2018 at the age of 45) was 1:48:10.
In 2015, I went along to Parkrun, just out of interest. My daughter’s friend had been running it and my daughter wanted to give it a try herself. It was OK, so we went back a couple of weeks later. It wasn’t long before I was hooked.
I achieved my PB of 22:23 in 2017, which I recently beat in (not)parkrun. In 2019, I didn’t miss a single parkrun (including Christmas Day and the New Year double) – I was marshal at one, tail walker at four and ran the rest of them. Along the way, I got my husband, both sons, my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew running too. I know that none of them would have run a single one if it wasn’t for my enthusiasm for parkrun.
By the time parkrun stopped abruptly in March 2020, I’d run over 200 and was on course to get my 250 T-shirt at the end of the year.
Since parkrun ended, I’ve stuck with the routine of a 5k (not)parkrun every Saturday morning. It’s not the same, but I still get a buzz from it.
I’d never wanted to run a marathon. But around 2017, I decided I would run one ‘one day’. My brother-in-law and I opted for the not very glamorous Newport marathon in 2019. In the past, I’ve always just run and seen what happens, but for my marathon I wanted to do things properly. I followed a training plan and trained to pace. I decided that 10 minute miles was a sensible starting point for my first marathon – a pace I could run very comfortably.
My marathon went exactly to plan – I should have finished it in 4 hours 22 and I finished it in 4 hours 21. I didn’t hit a wall or suffer in any way. I just kept running. And I knew I wanted to do one every year after that!
Needless to say, that didn’t happen in 2020, but I’m hopeful it will happen later this year.
I’m also hopeful that I’ll get a couple of half marathons in this year and, all being well, parkrun should be back in June and I can look forward to finally getting my 250 T-shirt sometime in spring 2022.
But, whether races come back or not, I will keep running!