Yes, I am a runner!
Rewind 5-6 years ago, if you asked me if I was into fitness my reply would simply have been ‘oh absolutely! I visit the gym 6 times a week, I run and play squash. Yes, I am fit’.
Forward to present day and it seems that I was just a fitness wannabe 5-6 years ago. Yes I did visit the gym 6 times a week but really just to pass the time and fool around. I did run, but only once a week and of no memorable distance. Yes I played squash every Saturday but was completely rubbish and often too hungover to see the ball. What’s more is that my diet was ashamedly un-repeatable! But that was then, if you were to ask me now if I was into fitness my reply would proudly be, ‘yes, I am a runner!’
The one thing that I have leant over the years is that to be an athlete of any sort, you need drive. You need to have fuel in your belly, a reason to push yourself to become a better you, the best you that you can be. Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 4 years ago, shortly after the birth of my 1st son was a bit of a blow, for want of a better word. I had to rediscover myself which took time (approx. 2 years to be precise), to understand the new behaviours of my body, the limitations and all the emotions that came with it. I remember one morning, when I was at my lowest, thinking that I just had to run. I had to get my body moving, spend some time and energy on me, on Gemma, and that’s exactly what I did and how it all started. It began on the treadmill at home, just a mile or 2, then when my 2nd son was old enough I went out with a running buggy, slowly increasing the mileage. Life was starting to feel good and I truly believe that it was the running and healthy living that was making the difference.
Before I knew it I had applied to take part in a Tough Mudder that would be televised for ITV, the conditions were that you would have a chronic illness or be entering on behalf of someone that did. Perfect, it had my name written all over it and I was delighted to be accepted. This was the turning point, I now had something to prove, the days of me feeling sorry for myself were long gone, it was now all about my fight against this illness. Having a challenge to work for makes a big difference, it gives reason to go out on days that you just don’t want to. There is no room for excuses when you are training for something and no matter what, you will always end up with a smile on your face when you have that ‘I just bloody did it’ feeling about you.
One Tough Mudder, 3 half marathons, 1 Trail Marathon down and I am now excited to be taking part in my 2nd Trail Marathon mid-October. The training is hard, averaging 160 running miles a month but my health and wellbeing have never been better. There is just something about getting out there, moving one foot in front of the other, feeling free and pushing yourself to your limits that gives you that ‘lust for life’ which I am sure we all crave.
Instagram was the social media platform that I choose to open an account (ms_running_fightingfit) and use as a way of promoting the positive sides to MS and how running has changed my life. It is here that I came across Hashtag01 and contacted them immediately, telling them my story and my plans to complete my first marathon. To say I am humbled by the support and encouragement they have shown me since then would be an understatement. Hashtag01’s brand values are something that I truly believe in and that are very close to my heart, ‘it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger’- so very true.