I’m not a runner but I’m running the Robin Hood Half Marathon

Emily rings the parkrun bell whilst holding her medal

Posted on: 24 Aug 2022

As the Robin Hood Half Marathon approaches, we’re excited to see all of our fundraisers on the start line. One of those fundraisers who will be on their marks on Victoria Embankment is Emily, who told us why she wanted to take on the 13.1 mile challenge this September.

“Last year, I set myself the goal of using exercise to help alleviate the symptoms of my anxiety. My mental health was in decline and I needed to change my life for the better, to push myself out of my comfort zone and find a routine that made me feel good. When my counselling stopped and I decided to come off my medication, I made a promise to myself to commit to regular exercise and mindfulness practices.

“Since I started running regularly in September 2021, I've seen a huge improvement in my mental health and physical fitness. Beyond this, I’ve developed from someone who hated the mere thought of running and having to endure the difficult conditions it puts my body through, to have found a hobby that I genuinely enjoy. Reflecting on the runner I was a year ago, I’ve gained so much resilience, patience and self-appreciation, as well as a healthy appetite for conquering a challenge.

“At the start of the new year, I was finding that my performance was constantly improving as was my fitness, so I set myself the slightly daunting (but incredibly exciting) goal of running a half marathon. I arrived at this decision because I want to be able to combine my love for running with my passion for helping people. That is why I chose to fundraise for the Nottingham Children's Hospital Paediatric Research Fund at the Robin Hood Half Marathon in September. The money raised will contribute to life-changing research for the children and young people who receive treatment at the Children’s Hospital.

Emily crosses the finish line of her first major event. She looks tired.

Emily after she crosses the finish line of her first half marathon

“Enjoying the many positive health benefits whilst raising money for an amazing cause has had an exponentially positive impact on my journey. This is what I tell myself during my long runs when I contemplate why I didn’t just have a nice, quiet Sunday afternoon of rest. It’s incredibly motivating.

“In the space of a few months, I went from avoiding running at all costs, to starting with a steady ten-minute jog using Couch to 5k, to training for my first half marathon. Though my journey so far has been overwhelmingly positive and beneficial, I’ve learned the tricky lesson that progress isn’t linear. My initial goal was to finish the Robin Hood half marathon in 1 hour and 45 minutes, which felt like a reasonable enough challenge to push me out of my comfort zone. I thought the end goal of crossing that finish line would be enough to take a “mind over matter approach” and that, based on the massive progress I’d made in my first six months, the following six would be just as promising. Life has a funny way of sending us obstacles though.

“After running my first Parkrun in January and incorporating long-distance running in Spring, I enjoyed my first ever half marathon in June. It was on my third lap of Nottingham Holme Pierrepoint Lake that I learned the delightful lesson that adrenaline and summer sun aren’t your best friends. The mindset shift I experienced during that run, where I was the most exhausted and uncomfortable I’d been on a run to date, was quite remarkable. I went from telling myself “you need to run perfect 5-minute kilometres” to kindly reassuring myself that “you just need to cross that finish line and that is enough”. I didn’t finish in the time I wanted, but I didn’t stop running, I didn’t stop smiling and I didn’t lose faith in myself. So, with my first half marathon attempt under my belt at a sub-two-hour finishing time, I reconsidered what a kind, realistic expectation would be for the Robin Hood half marathon.

“Looking ahead to the Robin Hood Half Marathon next month, I can’t believe that this ‘future goal’ has come around so quickly. Last week, I celebrated my first 5k anniversary by running the same route I did on that same day in 2021. Even at a relaxed pace and after the setbacks I experienced this summer, I was still nearly four minutes faster. You can’t put a number on progress, but I think that comes pretty close. Although I’m not performing at my peak ability, it will be a very proud moment for me to bring my running journey full circle at the finish line with my friends and family there too.

“I’m not a great runner. I struggle to pace myself. I might never be the fastest female at Parkrun. I don’t have a natural aptitude for marathon running. It took me until recently to invest in proper running trainers. But I am passionate and I am happy. Those two things are enough to get me tying my laces and popping my headphones in after work on my good and my bad days.

“I hope that this story, my open letter to running, makes that first stride onto the pavement less daunting. No matter your age, ability, experience or motivation for starting, I’d like to think I’m proof that there is fulfilment to be found when you begin investing in your health and your progress.”

We’ll be at Victoria Embankment cheering on Emily and her fellow fundraisers on September 25th. There is still time to run for Nottingham Hospitals Charity and make a difference to your local NHS. Get in touch or email us at charity@nuh.nhs.uk to find out more.
Take a look at our other fundraising events

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