I took up running about a year ago with a couple of friends. None of us are natural runners but we all felt like we should start doing something with our evenings, which was more worthwhile than watching Netflix – and running is free! After realising we were getting fitter and actually enjoying it too, we decided to take on the Ealing Half on 25th September.

We spent the summer training and faced our fair share of challenges, including knee injuries and bad trainers, but it all came together for the big day.

Here are five things I learned along the way:

1. 13.1 miles is a long way

When I first signed up for the Ealing Half, part of me felt like it wasn’t a big deal because it’s not a full marathon. It was only when I started training that I realised, actually, it’s a long way for someone who’s used to a jog around the park. When I approached the finish line on the day and realised how far I’d come, it definitely gave me a real sense of achievement – and a lot of respect for people who run full marathons!

2. Training doesn’t have to be a chore

Doing any challenge event inevitably takes up a lot of your free time. This summer, my friends and I spent every Sunday morning running for at least an hour, as well as several shorter runs during the week. It seems like a lot at first and took some will power to say no to the pub, yes to a run, but it quickly became part of our routine. We used the long runs as an opportunity to explore parts of London we had never been to before and enjoyed some beautiful sunny days discovering new stretches of the Thames. Sunday mornings no longer feel the same without it.   

3. Friends make a huge difference

Taking on a challenge event with your friends makes it infinitely easier and more fun – meeting up for a run meant a good excuse for a chat, and often post-run tea and cake. Being able to chat while we ran also took our minds off the pain in our legs and meant we could keep each other going when times got tough. I’d definitely be lying if I said I could have done it alone.

4. There’s no better motivation than a good cause

You inevitably go through some ups and downs in training, but knowing that you’re raising money for a good cause means you can’t give up. United Response is a charity close to my heart. Fundraising for such a worthwhile cause gave me lots of motivation to keep running because I couldn’t let them, or the generous people who had sponsored me, down. Plus, wearing the running vest makes you feel like a pro!

5. You can’t be shy about fundraising

It feels awkward at first to ask people for money, but as soon as you talk to people about what you’re doing, they’re usually more than happy to contribute to a good cause. Posting it several times on social media helped a lot, even if I now look a bit running-obsessed! I learned not to be shy about telling people about the event and there’s no better feeling than seeing the money roll in.  

The whole experience was amazing and I couldn’t recommend it more for giving yourself a challenge, feeling good and doing something worthwhile.

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