It’s 5:30am, it’s pitch dark, cold and wet – and I love it. I have my chest and back torches in place, and I’m just heading out for my morning run.
It didn’t use to be like this. I’m not a natural runner – I am a full-time working mum with a full-on job and a hefty commute. All of this led to a sedentary lifestyle and I used to spend all my spare time on other people.
But when I started to run, it gave me time for myself and this has helped me mentally as well as physically. Running is almost like meditation to me, I count in my head and it stops me thinking about anything else, giving me headspace. And curiously, this ‘me time’ has helped my relationships with others – in my family, and at work.
A morning run fires up my brain, helping to energize me for the day ahead, livening me up when it would be so easy to feel tired or demotivated. I train at least three times a week, with a long run at the weekend and morning or evening runs during the week. It may sound crazy – and very busy – but it has helped restore balance to my life.
Life outside of work
I also genuinely believe it makes me a better role model for the team I lead at work. They can see that there is more in my life than just work, and I’m not sure that has always been the case, to be honest. But showing that I am a rounded individual with outside interests sometimes helps other people to find space to follow their own passions.
As well as all that, running can also provide a way to relate to colleagues, breaking the ice at meetings, giving us something to chat about and opening up the relationship before we get down to business. Small chats and connections can make a big difference to these sorts of work relationships.
“It’s now such an important part of my life in so many ways, that I can’t see how I would ever stop.”
Running is also a brilliant mirror of the diversity and inclusion we try to achieve here at TCS. It’s crazy to think that women weren’t even allowed to run the marathon in the 1970s. Now there are crowds of women at the starting line. And it’s fantastic to see the achievements, support and enthusiasm for the wheelchair races too. That’s the kind of inclusion and equality that we want to see in the workplace. So, in that sense, marathon running serves as a great example.
Giving something back
But it’s not just about me, my family and work. It’s also a way to raise funds for charity. I’ve run to support the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children – which looked after my own daughter during a difficult period of our family’s life some years ago.
I also run for Evie’s Gift – a charity set up by a close friend whose daughter died at age 13 from an aggressive brain tumor. This charity helps fund research into the rare brain cancer that caused Evie’s death, as well as offering financial help to parents with children who are admitted to hospital with life-threatening conditions.
So, as well as helping me, running is also the way that I can give something back. It’s now such an important part of my life in so many ways, that I can’t see how I would ever stop. I ran the London marathon last year, and getting that medal inspired me to collect some more.
I’m now after one of the most exclusive medals in running – the Six Star Finisher medal – which you get after running all of the six major marathons in the world. New York is already in the bag, and I’ve got my place to do the Berlin marathon in September and the Chicago marathon in October. That only leaves Tokyo and Boston for 2019.
A Superstar’s message to us all:
Having a goal and knowing that I will keep going until I get there, gives me a fantastic feeling.