I’ve had two running ‘lives’. I ran for a few years back in the early eighties, and actually ran three Leicester Marathons, finished two (1981-83), also took part in a few cross country races too. That feels almost like a past life now, I got out of the habit of running and now wish I’d carried on. At the age of 47 I decided I needed to get fit again and joined a gym. Although I felt I was reasonably fit, I didn’t enjoy running on a treadmill, and became bored. Managed to keep going for a few years, but I had no enthusiasm. Just before Christmas 2010 I suddenly became very ill and after a week in bed at home I was admitted to Glenfield Hospital where I was diagnosed with double pneumonia and swine flu. Which came first I have no idea but I spent 10 days in there. I managed to pull through this, but it left me very weak for months. I started to walk every day to get some fitness back, then started jogging a bit, finally running 4 days week. The first time I ran a mile non-stop was a momentous event! In 2013 I started descending into depression for many reasons - isolation (I’m self-employed and work on my own at home), business/money problems, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, insomnia. By Spring 2014 I was in a very dark place - I could see no future. Barely ate and couldn’t sleep. I was still running but on my own with very little social contact most of the week. My wife finally got me to face up to everything and I went to the doctor’s. They diagnosed me with clinical depression and anxiety. I was immediately put on medication and referred for therapy. Within a week I had seen a therapist. She helped me through this with CBT, talking everything through, making a life plan. I took control of my life again by Spring 2015. She had suggested running with a club for some social interaction, I also heard about parkrun. That was a revelation, everyone was very friendly.
The first parkrun I ran was 25m 47s. I was bitten by the bug. Someone I’d met there suggested I joined a club Geoff Roberts had set up, Team Anstey. I finally plucked up the courage to come to a club night last May. I was nervous, knew no-one but the welcome I received was brilliant and I very quickly felt at home. That was a year ago, I still suffer from a bit of anxiety at times and I’m slowly cutting down the medication. With my new found positivity from being a member I’m enjoying life again including my work at home, and hopefully I never experience that dark place again. I’ll be 60 in August and running, and especially this great club, has been brilliant for my mental well-being. I can’t praise everyone highly enough. I’ve met so many new friends, and to see how everyone is progressing is fantastic and uplifting. Sorry for the life story but it’s been a traumatic few years with two very serious illnesses, and running has got me through both.
My proudest achievements have been running seven half marathons in the past 18 months, with a PB at my hardest one at Donington Park of 2h7m. I love the races I’ve done with the club too. All memorable! Also my PB at parkrun of 25m 05s was a great moment too. My aim is to try to get near it again. My tips are to always enjoy your running for whatever reason you’re doing it for and NEVER run with an injury that’s more than just a niggle, I’ve learnt that to my cost.
Until Sept 2015 I had never ran by choice in my life. Up until the age of 18 I was a dancer and we were dis-encouraged from any other sport in case of injury and we had to keep our limbs supple.
At the tender age of 30, I was witnessing 2 of my best friends, Frankie and Gemma making great achievements and having full enthusiasm for Team Anstey. I also was seeing how healthy and happy they looked. I was envious and wanted to be a part of it, but due to having a chronic illness called Lupus Disease with which I was diagnosed in my early 20’s I thought this was never going to be an option for me. I suffer daily with joint pain and fatigue, normal daily tasks can become impossible and I have daily secret battles with everyday life, towards the end of a day even just walking up the stairs is extremely painful. It would seem obvious that running wasn’t something I could do. I couldn’t even run to the end of my road without being out of breathe. However, one Thursday I saw Kim promoting her beginners course starting that evening. At the last minute at 5pm I decided that I would try that night. I was so nervous and was fully expecting to be defeated but I came home determined and enjoyed the first session. Could I actually complete this 10 week course? I doubted it, I normally am defeated with my body but I’d see how I got on. 10 weeks later I had completed the course, it was mentally and physically tough but I felt great. I was expecting to feel pain and fatigue like never before but I actually felt better for it. I couldn’t believe it, not only was I running, I was really enjoying it too.
I felt healthier than I had for a long time and felt determined to carry on. I continued to go to the main sessions, that was tough but I did it and with the support of many members of Team Anstey I was achieving things I never dreamt were possible. The boost of endorphins has an extremely positive effect for me and makes it all worth it. I just have to listen to my body if I push myself too much. I feel so proud after each run, I want to tell the world “get me, I’m running, me running!” it is also so encouraging to see others achieving their goals.
My proudest moment would be crossing the finish line at Desford 6, my first race. I was so proud, and my little boy was at the finish line shouting “go, mummy, go.” Winning the 3rd place inspiration for that race is also my biggest achievement and I have memories I will never forget.
If I could give anyone advice it would be never to count yourself out. Running has given me something to focus on, is keeping me healthy and making my friends and family proud. I was advised to take small steps and set small goals. This has helped me get somewhere I’d never thought I’d be. Always be proud, whatever your achievement big or small it is your achievement
I would like to say thank you to everyone at Team Anstey who has supported me through my journey, with a special thanks to Gemma and Frankie my fabulous friends with huge hearts, without them I wouldn’t be writing this. I cannot wait to see where the next part of my running journey with Team Anstey takes me and I hope that I can continue to achieve things I never dreamt possible.