By Jayne Scanlon

I’ve never been very good at exercise stuff. As a kid I was the academic one, the swot, the one picked to be prefect, but NEVER picked in P. E. I was always that one left that folk groaned at when they knew I was on their team. I was the one who never got picked for the good stuff on sports day, but got stuck with the 1500 metres because no-one else wanted it….. And I never finished it, I once even passed out on the third lap of the field!
Into adulthood I started suffering with chronic back pain and any form of exercise caused me discomfort and pain, so I stopped exercising, completely, and became even more incapable of more than a very short walk.

In 2016 I started working in Brighouse and I used to see groups of people running when I was coming home from work. I once saw one group, really spread out with a couple of ladies quite a way behind everyone else. I made enquiries and found it to be members of Northowram Pumas. I contacted them and spoke to a lovely guy called Ian who really tried to encourage me to his beginners class but I chickened out, I decided, when he told me they typically ran 3 miles, it was not for me…. After all, I could barely run a bath!!
I did however, like their Facebook page and, in 2018, when I saw their Couch25k program advertised I knew it was time. I bullied my son Josh to sign up with me and we both got in. Oh…. My…. God, I’ve done it now I thought.

I turned up that first session thinking there would be loads like me, complete beginners, all struggling to run and breathe at the same time. We were asked to run around the field to check our ability. To my horror, I was already half a field behind everyone else by the first lap and needing oxygen and a defib! I was mortified. So much so, I cried… I was so embarrassed, those old school feelings coming back.

Lucky for me, the leader didn’t give up on me, and told me it would get better, making me promise I would come back the next session…. And I did.
I worked hard during that program, running when they asked, walking when told and got my reputation of being stubborn and determined. I was the slowest in group, REALLY slow, but I never gave in, and on the 24th November, I did my graduation Park Run. I was disappointed, I was slow and I had to walk, I was so upset how far at the back I was, I never enjoyed the achievement and the love of the club who’d all turned out to support us.
Since then, I’ve had injuries, illnesses, bad periods of doubt but, belonging to a club has, for the first time in forever, somehow motivated me never to quit. I plodded on, doing my thing, sometimes improving, sometimes slipping backwards but never giving in.

One day, after talking with my husband who was doing the York Marathon, I decided to jump in with both slow feet and sign up for my first race, a 10 miler!!! Not a 5k, not a 10k but straight in. Stupid? Hell yes, achievable? Who knew…? But I wanted to do something amazing with him on that day.
I signed, with only 7 weeks to go!! and a holiday in between. Madness!!! But it was done, no turning back now. I only told a select group of people, mainly as I didn’t want any pressure, but also just in case I failed, that old embarrassed feeling coming back.

I trained, kind of, doing club runs and did two long runs with my husband .. A 5.4 and a 7.6 mile and pretty much accepted I’d finish it, but I’d have to walk.. A lot! But, after two of my closest club friends offered to run with me, there was no turning back, I was not going to fail or quit.
The day arrived, I got ready, I’d prepared the week before, eating properly, carbing up, feeling like a proper athlete 😂😂, and off we went.
I waved my husband off on his marathon and I waited for my event with my support besties. I was nervous, I felt sick, I was dreading the unknown… 10 miles!!! What was I doing?? The klaxon went and we were off.
I emptied my mind; I visualised a medal and I settled into my pace. I let folk pass me, I didn’t care, this was about me, not them and I ran! I just set myself mini goals, each mile to get to, and relaxed. It was tough in places, I hate inclines and there were some sneaky ones, but having two teamies with me made me dig in, I wanted to make them proud, I wanted to make my husband proud and most of all, I wanted to be proud.

I finished that race, 25 minutes faster than I had set myself and I ran the bloody lot, I never once stopped and I never once walked and I wasn’t last!! I’m always last, but not that day, I even passed people, that had never been known! I had only ever run 2 miles without stopping before so I had no idea where it came from but I pulled an amazing achievement out of the bag and I earned my medal!

I achieved the impossible for me, how? Well, support from others, running is lonely alone. Belief, if you don’t believe in yourself, others won’t believe in you either. Determination, the mind can force the body to react when you dig in. Realism, make your journey about you and your goals, don’t be pushed by others, set yourself achievable goals and you’ll get there. Finally, LOVE!! Love yourself for when you do your best and you’ll achieve your impossible.

My name is Jayne and I AM a runner!