A World Health Day blog by our Marketing & Recruitment Officer, Nicola Donnelly. Nicola is also a parent carer to her 3-year old son. Nicola writes about how running helps her physical and mental health and is also raising money for a cause close to her heart.
The one thing I did not expect to come out of lockdown as was an enthusiastic runner. The best thing my PE teacher could say about me in a school report was “Nicola always brings her PE kit and tries very hard.” Physical exercise has not always come naturally to me, but I have tried over the years to find what I enjoy most.
A wake-up moment for me was spending time with other carers for disabled children when I was at appointments or events with my son. Due to dedicating their time and energy to their children, often their own health was suffering. At that point I saw looking after my health as something that could no longer be pushed to the side. I couldn’t risk not being able to play, do physio, run around, lift safely or being zapped of energy all the time.
I began working with a trainer on using the small pockets of time I had for exercise each week wisely. Then, with lockdown, my sessions were moved online, and the gym was closed so I decided to give running a try. Being able to run pretty much anywhere, at any time appealed to me for fitting around a busy family life. I knew I would need a goal to keep motivated and so I started looking around for runs that I could sign up to.
One of the charities I follow online, Lucy Air Ambulance for Children were advertising spaces at London Landmarks Half Marathon. That set off a lightbulb moment for me. In 2017 Lucy helped us by transferring my son from London to Dundee by air ambulance and I always enjoy spending time in London (which is why I was there when my son was born 14 weeks early). The charity allocated me a space and my fate was sealed. No backing out now and I am well on my way to raising £2,000. The run has been postponed from May until August.
As my training has continued, I have really come to appreciate making time for running. Especially during lockdown. Getting outside is very important and I might be reluctant at the beginning, but I am always happy at the end. Each run, of any length, is an achievement for me and they never fail to help me organise my thoughts and then clear my mind. I listen to podcasts for company and entertainment and it becomes quality time for me.
The best outcome from my efforts though has been how I feel. I can push my son up hills much more easily. I can lift him in and out of swings and his trike. I can roll around on the floor with him doing physio and I know being physically and mentally fit is both a great example for my boy and an investment in our future.