I am absolutely delighted (and rather stunned) to announce that I have been nominated in the Inspirational Woman category Let’s Do This Challenge Awards powered by Runners World and Women’s Health. To simply be nominated is a huge honour, I know I won’t win but I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me by voting so far! And if you’re yet to vote please do as voting closes on the 15th September!
You can do so via this link: https://www.letsdothis.com/challengeawards/best-of-the-rest/most-inspiring-woman
I’m so shocked to be in this category alongside some of my sports heroes and friends. I’m just a regular girl who likes to run and talks a lot about running. I’m not a professional athlete, I fit my training in around my 9-5 career in London (plus all my commuting- writing this on the tube!), I didn’t exercise until I was in my 20s and I just want to encourage people to get moving, try new things and hopefully spread a message of positivity.
I’ve gone through some drastic changes in my life- for over 10 years up until my early 20s I led a sedentary lifestyle, facilitated by a toxic relationship with food and body image. On the BMI spectrum I was obese, but most importantly I simply wasn’t happy. I endured years of high school bullying, I stuck around in pretty destructive situations and I would cry in the toilets on nights out because I was so fed up with how I felt about my body/ weight.
The end of my first year at university this changed. I found myself in much better circumstances surrounded by positive and supportive people. I wanted to change, I didn’t know if it would work, or just how much of a battle it would be, but I cut myself free from self doubt and decided to simply give it a go, at the end of the day I hated how I felt and only I had the power to change this.
I started running, moving more, going to Zumba, sleeping better, enjoying food rather than using it as a comfort crutch. I enjoyed my friendships, relationships and university experience more. By the time I finished my degree I was a third of my body weight down and had the courage to interview for a PhD position which I was later awarded. My research involved a lot of time working in Iceland, hiking up mountains, climbing up glaciers and up to 15 hours per day in the field. This is something I physically never could have achieved without making the changes to lead a more active lifestyle.
It was never plain sailing, there were setbacks, challenges, blood, sweat, tears but it was worth it. I’ve changed my life for the better in every possible way.
After a family bereavement in 2016 I started running more regularly. It was just what I needed at the time. In 2017 I joined the ASICS FrontRunner team and in 3 months I went from never having run more than 10k to my first half marathon in June and from there my first marathon (London) in April 2018. The marathon sparked something in me. I had achieved something that just 8 years prior I never ever could have ever fathomed physically, but mentally I was now celebrating what my body could do rather than feeling negatively about what it could look like.
I felt unstoppable. I wanted to try it all. I wanted to make up for all the time I lost as a child/teenager/20 something, where I had written myself off. I wanted to see just what I could achieve and I wanted to show the beaten down, unhappy girl I once was just what is possible. In turn I want to show anyone that things aren’t hard limitations, they’re simply challenges and with a bit of focus, hard work and determination they are feasible. 16 months after that first marathon I completed my first triathlon, an absolute dream come true.
My message to anyone reading this is YOU can make things happen. It might seem like a huge mountain to climb, but with time and the will to succeed you will get far. Don’t write yourself off, don’t be afraid to try new things and celebrate the challenges you endure. If you have the will to succeed, you WILL succeed. I really hope that through this blog, I can break down some barriers into sports and fitness and reach out to anyone who felt how I did back in my teens. You CAN do it, so book that race, climb that mountain and have that adventure.
Just to be nominated in the Challenge Awards means so much to me. It means people are seeing the message I want to share and I really hope that means I’m able to encourage others to chase their dreams. So thank you for the support.