I want to begin this blog by just taking a minute to read the quote above. Running for me is a massive part of my life but I also believe that it teaches us so many great things that are transferrable to so many situations, like so many sports do, and never before have we needed to be prepared for the race that is marked out in front of us today. It is with this in mind I wrote this blog today.
Being a runner and a sporting enthusiast, perseverance is something I have to have in abundance! Whether it is for committing to training on frosty dark winter nights, after work or to running up that really steep hill, which you know is going to hurt and after it’s over, there are another 5 miles or so to go! As a runner, yes persevering certainly gets you through.
One of the times I remember having to persevere for what seems like an eternity, was when I completed my first marathon in Manchester in 2016. I had trained for 16 weeks, following a strict training plan for beginners to marathon running. I was trained beyond belief quite honestly and I had raised money for Western Park Cancer Charity, who at the time were treating my Dad for his terminal cancer. I had always been a passionate runner but signing up to a Marathon, even for me, was a massive challenge. I had to show great strength even to complete the training for the marathon. The commitment was huge but I knew if I could complete this, the reward would be even greater, the absolute pinnacle for any long-distance runner like me, yes completing a marathon was a life time dream!
Although it was a lifetime ambition I had since being a child (yes as strange as this sounds it was), I certainly didn’t expect that I would be running my first marathon in such sad times. However, this definitely encouraged me more, made me preserve and certainly got me through. I did it solely for my Dad, to give him some hope, something to focus on and to show him I was prepared to push myself to the limit as a runner, as he was doing going through endless hours of chemo and radiotherapy. There was no greater reason to do anything like this, than for my ill Dad.
I remember hitting the 20-mile mark during the race. I was absolutely shattered, despite having run over 26 miles in my training because I was so frightened, I wouldn’t finish. Training programmes normally never train you to run the exact distance, that is something the race day brings, but being the person I am, I had to be sure I was going to complete the 26.2 miles ahead for my Dad. I couldn’t let him down and I certainly wasn’t going to do that through being unprepared.
I remember I just started to cry, I couldn’t explain it, probably sheer exhaustion and amazement at being surrounded by well wishes, encouraging you to push yourself and congratulating you. If you have ever run a race, whether it be a 5K or a 50K you will know the feeling I am talking about. Hearing that stranger cheer you on is just something that is pure gold. Sometimes it can spark an emotional reaction, sometimes a physical burst of energy, all of which get you through and help you to dig deep and carry on. As I had tears rolling down my face, I remember hearing someone shout “Come on you can do it!”. I thought to myself…how can I be finding this hard; I am well, I am fit and I am doing this for someone who means the world to me who is none of those things currently…yes I can do it, they’re right! From somewhere inside, I picked up strength and carried on. Never once did I stop (except for one toilet break at 11 miles) for the whole of the 26.2 miles.
I remember seeing the finish line, I was determined to do a sprint finish and I did. The sight of my husband waving and stood on a wall looking out for me was one of the greatest memories I have of the entire race. He was so proud of me and I could see that. I had always doubted my abilities and thought I would never finish this marathon but his words to me were; “You are amazing, I never had any doubt you would do it.” Those words resonate often in my head whenever I am feeling like I can’t do things. It is always important to remember, just because you don’t think you are capable; it doesn’t mean others think the same. Often, they see you as far more capable than you see yourself and when they share their confidence in you, it can lift you to great heights beyond where you ever thought possible. My husband has also put all my running trophies up at home, see picture below, sometimes just looking through these makes me believe I can do anything and that soon enough I will be back to the running I once did before having my children. My Manchester marathon medal is the white one just under the ‘E’ on ‘She’.
Seeing my Dad pass away just 7 months after completing my first ever marathon, I was so pleased I pushed and persevered for him in his hour of need and that he was able to see and remember what I did for him. I raised thousands for the cancer charity and he was so proud of me for doing this for him. My Dad was a humble man, liked to put back what he had taken out if you like. But being so ill, he couldn’t; so raising this much money for him not only made him feel good but it also allowed people to get behind my Dad in the way of sponsoring me to give him the encouragement he needed; similar to the words of encouragement cheers the strangers in the crowd gave me during my 26.2 miles.
If you’ve ever run a race or entered a charity event like a marathon you won’t have to look far to see examples of people who are inspirational, the ones that make you cry and make you feel like anything is possible, those who are persevering through treatment and managing to run a marathon for example. Many of you will remember the inspirational and magnificent Jane Tomlinson who did this throughout her battle with cancer. What a truly remarkable person who left such a legacy.
Living through the COVID-19 pandemic is similar to a marathon. We must see the fight against this virus as a marathon, not a sprint. The harder we work now the easier it will be in the long run for the greater good. If we adhere to the lockdown, each and every one of us daily, it makes the lives of many easier, saving lives. You can make a significant difference to the lives of the ill by adhering to the lockdown, just like I did for my Dad by running the marathon. Every day that passes is like another mile completed in the marathon, we will get there with the encouragement of others clapping the NHS staff to spur them on every Thursday and to say thank you for the hard work they are putting in daily to save lives.
I am so pleased to see people have completed marathons in their gardens, I am thinking of the wonderful Captain Tom. He showed perseverance in spades! I hope many more continue to do remarkable things, showing their ability to persevere. I am myself training for a half-marathon which I hope to do in October this year as the first long distance run after having twins. I want to push myself, build up my perseverance again because it truly is one of the greatest attributes you will develop through sport which will help you through some of the hardest times of your life. As this quote says below, if we truly believe we can do it, we will achieve.