Almost 10 weeks ago I started on my couch to 5k journey and today, Saturday 28 April, I ran my first 5k parkrun. I can't believe I actually did it! It's not been a simple journey as it took me almost a year and a half to find a guide runner - but I'm so glad I didn't give up.
I've not posted anything on my blog before about my new running adventures, after all it is a baking blog. BUT I'm so chuffed and feeling really proud of myself. I'm also hugely grateful to my wonderful (and very patient) guide runner and his wife for helping me.
I decided to try running as I mostly work from home and had begun to feel quite low and isolated. I knew I was on a slippery slope to depression after suffering a major set-back with my sight and I knew I needed to make a change. So, I decided to try a sport that would help me meet new people and get me out in the fresh air - running seemed like the perfect solution. I thought it would be easy to find a guide runner locally, but it wasn't. But I'm not one to give up and after almost a year and a half I was finally put in touch with a guide runner through a local sight loss charity Worcestershire Sight Concern.
10 weeks does not seem such a long time to get to this point - but we've worked so hard. Indeed, if you'd have asked me 10 weeks ago I'd have said I'd never be able to run a mile, let alone 3.1 miles (which is 5k). Being visually impaired you can't just pop on your trainers and have a jog, everything has to be planned and as much as I hate it I also have to rely upon the help and goodwill of others.
My guide (Corin), who is a seasoned runner and a complete inspiration, and I met for our first 'run' on the 18th February. I was so nervous and worried, I thought I might fall and not be able to do it. Funnily enough Corin was equally nervous. But neither of us needed to have worried! We hit it off instantly!
We decided on a couch to 5K plan as a starting point. On that first run I thought – ‘Oh My Goodness I can’t do this!’ I couldn’t run more than 45 seconds without looking and feeling like a tomato!
We persevered, we followed the programme and I quickly got bitten by the running bug. I started running on a treadmill once a week too and very soon I was running for 5 minutes at a time and on week 8 I ran for 5K without stopping!
Although I can only run with a guide, it's amazing the difference running has made to my mental health and my sense of independence. Today, Saturday 28 April, we took part in our local parkrun for the first time and I was totally blown away by the support and friendliness of everyone. Friends who I used to work with also came to cheer me on - which was amazing. I've been introduced to a whole new circle of friends and the whole experience has given me a new drive to not let anything stand in the way of achieving my goals.
It's early days for my running adventures - but we are not going to stop now that we've reached the 5k target. Our aim now is to inspire others with a visual impairment to feel brave enough to run with a guide. We also want to encourage experienced runners to volunteer to become a guide runner.
With the aim of raising awareness and hopefully raising some money in mind, I applied for place at next year’s London Marathon and am delighted to have been given a place to run for The Guide Dogs for the Blind. Corin is going to run with me. We are absolutely determined to do it!
I'll be posting more about our running adventures - I hope you don't mind!