Earlier this week, I shared details of my new foray into running. It’s still very early days for me and my new hobby but so far, I’m really enjoying it and am setting myself new little challenges week on week as I strive to improve. My goal for 2015 is to run a 10k race, something I have never done before. As I begin to prepare myself for my challenge, I am massively inspired by a good friend of mine, Helen Scott, who I met nearly 15 years ago at university.
Helen has made huge changes to her health, fitness and lifestyle in just under five years – losing 13.5 stone/189lbs in weight and successfully completing London Marathon in 2014 being just two of her amazing achievements. She now lives in Sydney, Australia (lucky thing!) and I’m delighted that she is sharing her inspirational story here on the blog.
In around 2011, I knew that something had to change as I wasn’t happy. I knew deep down that, even though I had denied it for years, that thing was my weight. Diets had been endlessly tried but with very little success. I now know this was purely due to my love of food and not diets. However, one thing I had never tried was exercise.
I began by doing workout routines. The most I could do in the early days was the warm up! However, I powered through them week after week. I replaced the bad takeaways with healthier versions and along with my workout DVDs, the weight started to come off. I began by shutting myself in my bedroom, with people under strict instructions to never enter the room. But as I became more confident and a pro at the likes of Davina McCall and Ministry of Sound’s workout routines, I made it into the main living area with more space to do my thing!
I recall a day where it was really hot and sunny. We lived by water so I would often see people running outside and I wished I had the confidence to run like them. I told my Dad this, who is an amazing inspiration to me when it comes to running – still running at 60! He said he wanted to go running with me and so we planned to run as much as I could and then walk when I needed to walk. He would stick with me, doing it at my pace. That day I ran probably about 200 metres before I had to walk again. This continued for the whole run and it was hard. However, that didn’t stop me and I continued that route on a weekly basis and got better each time.
That route was about 3k. I remember the feeling when I ran the whole way without stopping. That’s when you know what an achievement you’ve made. I extended the route to 5k and later 7k.
However, I knew that the Great Manchester 10k was coming up and decided that I wanted to be part of it. So I applied. I started training, which meant that I would go out running more frequently, probably about four times a week. The day arrived and I was nervous but also excited. I also managed to raise money for Alzheimers, a charity close to my heart, so I had a good incentive to complete the run. One hour and three minutes later I had completed by first ever 10k run and I was in a state of shock about my time. I was so happy. It is definitely on my list of best days of my life. And that was it! I had officially caught the running bug!
I set my sights on a three-year plan. The 10k was completed, the next year I wanted to do a half marathon and the year after that I wanted to try and do a marathon.
One year later, I conquered the Sheffield Half Marathon at one hour and 58 minutes. Again, another great day and a challenge to add to my list of achievements.
I continued running and was thinking about what marathon I would do and if anything, whether I could even run a marathon. However, in December 2013, Children with Cancer asked my fiancé, Steve, to run for their charity. Steve immediately told them about my background and asked if they would give me a place. I know how hard it is to get a place for the London Marathon so was overwhelmed that they gave me a place too. I, of course, would do it and I would give it my all, however long it would take.
I would say the training was the hardest. It was throughout winter and the cold frosty mornings and wet late evenings were tough. I also started to pick up knee injuries so the training became punishing. However, 13 April 2014 came around and I achieved my final challenge with a time of four hours and 52 minutes.
Running is now part of my life and daily routine. It relieves my boredom and is part of my ‘me’ time. It also releases my inner competitor, someone I never knew existed. I compete only against myself though and my challenges now consist of being faster.
It has, of course, also helped me to lose weight whilst still being able to fit in a pepperoni pizza now and again. I’ve lost a total of 13 ½ stone and have recently undergone excess skin surgery, which I joke will make me more aerodynamic!
“I want to motivate and show people who think that they’ll be unfit and/or overweight forever that they must never accept that.”
I want to remain fit and I want to run faster and see what else I can achieve. I would love to do a marathon again and have my hopes set on New York. I want to motivate and show people who think that they’ll be unfit and/or overweight forever that they must never accept that. I was almost that person and will never let that happen again.
My advice to a new beginner or people thinking about doing it is just go out, take it easy, run when you can and walk when you need to. Then repeat. Whether it’s once a week or four times a week. Just keep going and don’t give up.
Thank you so much, Helen, for sharing your story! This is true inspiration for anyone to strive towards their goals, whatever they may be.
Helen is really keen to help motivate and encourage others who are looking to make a change to their lifestyle and fitness. She has recently created an Instagram page to offer support and daily motivation. Follow her at: https://instagram.com/pursuit_of_perfection_