Running a marathon for a local charity is an amazing experience Last year I ran the London Marathon for St Raphael’s Hospice. It was all I needed to get the ‘marathon bug.’ It honestly was the greatest experience of my life. It hadn’t been an easy journey for me. I became ill in October and from then on was unable to run. I remained determined and had to readjust my ambitions for the marathon. This year’s Brighton Marathon was my chance to enjoy training and to raise more money for the Hospice. Running a marathon is hard! The consistent training has an impact on life but for me it’s something amazing. It has improved my life, given me an aim and a purpose. Through running, I have met truly amazing people. I’ve met 3 hour marathon runners and 8 hour marathon runners, and I appreciate every runner and every effort. 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles for everyone! What struck me the most is the kindness of people; the kindness of spectators, the kindness of friends, family and colleagues but most of all, the kindness of runners. Everyone who runs a marathon for charity puts themselves through this very personal challenge for a cause close to their heart. When you run among a sea of thousands of charity vests it really hits you. People are amazing. A thought, which is actually very appropriate at this time. My most important mantra is ‘listen to your body’. Yes, it’s true I will have to kick myself out of the door some days, and build myself up for the long runs some days. However, I know that I have limits and it’s important that I maintain my love for running and not push myself too far. Prior to the lockdown I’d run three half marathons in a row; had planed my 32k final run and was looking forward to skiing over Easter for a rest. Suddenly all of my plans had fallen through! Having shifted the marathon date to September I am currently trying to maintain my fitness. I am running every other day. Not long distances, a maximum of 10k. I will not take for granted that we are still allowed to go outside and exercise, therefore I will not run for more than an hour and I always try my hardest to keep my distance from other people. It means I can’t run in parks or my usual routes. I’m running in the evening, not my favourite, but with every step I am so aware of how lucky I am and that I am fit and well enough to run. Exercise helps my mental health too and I know how important it is for me. I have decided that I will still run in September. I am a runner, not a speedy one but I run because it is a reminder to me that my body can do this and my mind enjoys it. I will keep running all year round. Once I have settled into the idea of this new experience, I will map out a training plan to build up those longer distances in July and August. For now, I’ll have fun and enjoy myself as best I can. I have signed up for a virtual 100k in April. It’s giving me a little focus for now, at a time when I sometimes feel I’ve lost my running purpose. As far as the fundraising is concerned, it has presented me with new challenges. So, I’ve come up with new plans! I’ve started Christmas crafting and taken orders for Christmas cakes already. I’ve baked the cakes and tucked them away, so they can carry on maturing during the summer. I am hoping that once some restrictions are lifted, I will be able to get back to fundraising. I know how important it is for St Raphael’s and I want to do my best. I will just have to try and be more creative with my ideas this time around.