This October, I have decided to run the Lincoln 10k, and for multiple reasons, I have decided to do so for charity.
Before I start talking about what I’m running for and why I wanted to talk a little about my running journey. Please know this isn’t a ‘look at me’ article, but just a real-life story that I hope gives you some context as to why me running a 10k is a big (ish) thing to do.
As recently as January, I wasn’t a runner. I had run a 10k once, in my Poacher outfit, after a night out where I had no sleep. I was 24 and could do stuff like that, and I vowed never to run again. I kept that vow up right through until two months after my 43rd birthday when I began to get chest pains (that’s not strictly true, I tried running briefly in the summer of 2021 and gave up pretty quickly when I realised it was tough, but I’d been out maybe once). I spoke to my doctor, and the inference was clear; you’re fat. I was 16-and-a-half stone, under six feet tall and therefore classed as obese. They referred me to a specialist and said I needed to lose a bit of weight.
I was scared of running, truth be told. It felt like a lot of hard work, a lot of sweating and pointless exertion for little reward. I’d drive past runners in their shorts on cold days and sneer at them; that’s the honest truth. I would say stuff like ‘if they’ve got nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon, I pity them’, before getting home to my PlayStation and bottle of fizzy drink. Who was the fool? Apparently, it was me, and chest pains, a slightly smug doctor and the realisation I was fat all combined to make me have a change of heart.
I’d heard about the Couch to 5k from Andy Pearson during my ill-fated attempts the previous summer, so I gave that a go. I even bought a running machine so I had to do it; for me, if I invest money in something, it makes me more likely to see it through! I started on the Couch to 5k, the gentle tones of Jo Whiley easing me through a minute of running, then five, then ten. I came to hate that bloody woman’s voice (sorry Jo), but over the weeks, I became a runner. I hit a block around week five when I tried to run outside and realised it was a lot tougher, but I had focus. I kept on going, pushing myself and eager to lose that extra weight. It was a nine-week programme, but it took me almost 13 weeks to complete, despite running almost every other day. If I couldn’t do a stage, I just tried it again 48 hours later. I still remember the utter joy at completing my first two eight-minute runs with a walk in between: I cheered so loud my neighbour messaged congratulations.
At the end of the Couch to 5k I was warned it was too easy to give up running, and oddly it coincided with my heart appointment, where the nurse also told me she’d done the programme and she’d stopped running. That motivatd me to not fall into the same old trap, and in June, I completed my first outdoor 10k, just around the roads near me. Every time I went out to run, I hated it by the way; it was tiring, it makes me sweat, and I don’t feel the ‘freedom of the road’ at all; I feel tired and bored. It’s those moments afterwards I love; the satisfaction at having run a distance, at getting a time to beat next time out. Do any of you remember playing Mariokart on the SNES? Did you get your little ghost car to beat on a time trial? I loved that, and so I signed up for Strava and set up little courses around me to see if I could beat myself. I gamified running to take away the boredom, beating myself as motivation.
Sadly, my second 10k at the beginning of July saw me get injured. My thigh began to hurt, and since then, I’ve really struggled. I did 3k on Monday and immediately felt pain, so much so I’ve had to make an appointment to see a physio. During my time injured, I realised how much running helped me. I could beat a bad mood by running, not because I was having fun (I cannot stress enough how running is not fun for me), but how it made me feel afterwards. I had a purpose, and not running took that from me. I wasn’t depressed, but I felt down and moody. Every time I felt a twinge in my leg, I felt angry at being unfit; I pushed myself a little too hard to get back. I could understand how badly an injury must affect a player as well – it wasn’t nice. It still isn’t.
5k in 29:46. Proper chuffed tonight. pic.twitter.com/AjbKoBaqJZ
— The Stacey West (@Staceywestblog) May 20, 2022
That (finally) brings me to the 10k run. I have always felt, somewhere, I’d like to do something like the 10k, properly, but never had the desire to do so. I always felt it wouldn’t be something I’d do, and so now I think I can, it feels like something I’d get a lot out of. I wanted to do it for a charity because I do have a reach with the site, and I like to do positive things when I can; the honesty shout is it makes me feel good to help people, and it’s a shame to waste the site’s reach. I pondered on several charities, but something around mental health was always going to win out. It struck me that whilst there are a good many charities out there, I wanted to do something close to home, something for a charity I felt benefitted people I knew. I’ve spoken to people here in Lincolnshire suffering right now, as recently as today, and I wanted to run this 10k for them, for people I know to get help from something local. After doing a bit of research, it struck me the answer was close to home: I’m going to run it for the Lincoln City Foundation.
They do an unbelievable amount of good work locally, helping people in the community as well as Lincoln fans. They’ve run wellbeing sessions, have the man’s club on a Monday for people to talk and have stuff in the pipelines helping veterans with PTSD and stuff like that. They’re right here, in Lincoln, helping people you and I know. That’s the sort of charity I want to help, that can directly affect people struggling close to me and you.
Running helps me stay focused, it helps my mental well-being, and there are plenty of people out there who could feel the same. Those who cannot run, for whatever reason, might not have any outlet to help pick themselves up, and that’s where the Foundation come in. Therefore, I’m not just running it to raise money but also awareness; awareness of what the Foundation offer and how they might be able to help you, your family or your friends. We lost an Imp this summer in the worst possible way, and I want to ensure that this site’s reach and my new found love of
running finishing a run can help others who might be going through something similar.
I've been carrying a thigh injury for nearly six weeks now, and it's driven me crazy. I don't enjoy running, but not doing it was infuriating. This was my first 5k in ages and no pain, so I guess I'm officially in training for Lincoln 10k in October! https://t.co/93xI5A5a11 pic.twitter.com/qDKnGSAfCM
— The Stacey West (@Staceywestblog) August 15, 2022
Over the course of the next eight weeks, I’ll be doing a series of articles on the things the Foundation do and my own running journey. I hope to inspire some to get out and run; I avoided it for three decades, and I was worse for it. If you’re fit and able, you want to shed a few pounds and get fit, try the Couch to 5k because you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. Hell, why not sign up for the 10k and set yourself a goal? If you’re already running the 10k, why not join me? Join me in raising money for the Foundation, helping them help others. If you join me, we’ll add your name to the articles and can talk about your journey as well.
This is a cause so close to my heart. I have friends who have been in the forces and struggled with civilian life, and fought PTSD many years after their service finished. I know people struggling with mental health issues right now in Lincoln, and you all know I’ve fought my demons. I fought that battle largely alone until 2016, but nobody needs to be alone now. The Foundation have so many great projects aimed at helping, and those of us who are fit and able can help fund those projects.
Together, we can help run mental health struggles out of town (ok, that’s a crap slogan, but you know my skill is not catchy one-liners!). Why not join me, join us as we run for mental health, and help to give the Foundation the tools they need to help the people we know, right here, right now? If you’re running the 10k and want to get on board, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you and your story here on the site.