I found running when I was in my late teens. Though I was following some positive role modelled behaviour from my Dad - who has a genuine love of all sport and ran marathons as a hobby - the main reason I took up the sport was as a mechanism for weight loss. At this age, I was learning more about physical health and fitness, as well as the lessons the media had to teach teenage girls in the noughties.
So I chose long distance running - hailed at the time for being a great cardio workout (hailed at the time for being the best way to burn calories) - as my sport. And so began my love/hate relationship with running. It was a cyclical endeavour that involved signing up for a race, training for it and running it before taking a well-earned rest that stretched until I started feeling guilty for not doing more exercise. During this time, I ran several half marathons and 2 full marathons across England, Wales, Norway, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but it was endurance in more ways than one.
In 2021, I started working for the children's charity Youth Sport Trust (YST). YST believe whole heartedly in the life-changing benefits of sport and play, and believe that every child should have access to those benefits. We work on increasing this access through delivering programmes directly into schools and settings across the UK, as well as delivering national campaigns and working with policy makers to put PE and sport at the heart of school life.
Since joining, I have reflected a lot on my relationship with sport and physical activity throughout my life. Though I've known for a while that the extrinsic motivation of burning calories isn't enough to build a habit, I didn't know how to move my motivation inwards. Working with people who are so passionate about sport and its benefits has been a real privilege and an eye opener for me. I've been encouraged over the last few years to get back into running by starting the couch to 5k with a group of colleagues. I've been invited on runs with people who run far faster than me and not been made to feel out of place. And most pivotally, I've been emphatically encouraged to join my local running club to experience another side to the sport.
Suddenly, something I'd been wanting to do for so long in running habitually and enjoying it has happened with complete ease. My motivation has become intrinsic in the best way - now I'm running to meet new people, to explore new places, to spend time in nature, to improve my mental health and to enjoy myself, rather than it having anything to do with my weight.
The London marathon is a chance for me to celebrate this new found relationship with running. It is my thank you to YST for the impact it has had on me personally, as well as the impact we are all striving for in future generations of young people. If you would like to donate, please do so below.
Please also donate a song recommendation for my playlist that you think will keep me going on the day!