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REBORN TO RUN

There’s a cupboard in my house that makes an alarming noise if anyone bumps into the door – a cacophony of clanging from the dozens of running finish medals hanging on hooks just inside. I’m sure plenty of runners have a space like this at home, full of the memorabilia of years of taking part in events. A few weeks ago, I finally had to sort out this cupboard and, among the old race numbers, certificates and medals, I found a blurry photo of a 27-year-old woman, waterproof jacket flapping around her legs, running down a nondescript suburban road.

It doesn’t look like much, but that picture represents the pinnacle of my running career. It was taken between miles 18 and 19 of the 2006 Abingdon Marathon. Seven or eight miles later I ‘sprinted’ into Tilsley Park athletics ground to finish in 3hrs 28mins 4secs. I had run a marathon PB for the second time that year and felt sure that my London Marathon Championship place (sub 3:15) was just another year of training away.

It wasn’t to be. I’d already asked a lot of my body, botching my way through various niggles, on the way to that race. The following spring, on a training camp, I did something to my left ITB and – to cut a long story short – I’ve never quite been the same runner since. That’s how the photo came to be stashed away in a cupboard. I used to look at it with sadness but, when I found it again and realised the race was 10 years ago this month, I came to realise something else. I’m not sad to look back any more. I would face an uphill struggle to run those kinds of finish times again, even if I was completely injury free – I am 10 years older, after all. But that no longer matters to me. In the intervening years, not being able to run marathons ‘properly’ has meant finding new ways to run, learning how to swim, completing two Ironman triathlons, making new friends. I’m not the runner I used to be – but I’m a happy runner all the same.

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About Women’s Running

Re-start your running with the new issue of Women's Running, out now! We'll show you seven ways to break out of a running rut and how to come to terms with a new way of running when your times are on the decline. We've got expert advice on the steps you need to take now if you're planning for a spring PB next year. Plus, find out how running can help you be more mindful; be inspired by three women who celebrated big birthdays through amazing run events; and find out how to run if you have asthma. Giving your nutrition a re-think? Read a dietician's no-nonsense advice for fuelling your endurance sessions and read our special report on carb cycling for runners. You'll find all this plus the best kit reviews for road and trail, workouts for runners, and much more!

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