Siobhan M
Posted by

The loneliness of the (quite) long distance runner

Siobhan M
Posted by
06 Apr 2014

I've worn through two pairs of trainers since my last post. But there's good reason...

I should really use this post to talk about training and fundraising for the Brighton Half Marathon, which is kind of what the title hints at. And I will cover this (in a nutshell it is really rather time-consuming and you will panic if you ever stop wearing socks with L and R on them). But first, a flashback if I may.

In March 2013, as my fuzzy topped scalp was beginning to resemble what we English call 'a hairdo' I had a flash of insight. I'd leant on the gym throughout my cancer journey like Long John Silver did his crutch, and every sweaty moment I spent there felt positive. I wondered if I was alone in feeling that? I did some googling (I think this passes as reseach these days) and found that to be a rather resounding no.

So I decided I would retrain in exercise referral and as a personal trainer, to help people like me.

Now to set a little context, before I arm-wrestled Hodgkin Lymphoma I would have thoughts about changing career/the world/my clothes and do approximately diddly squat with them. But with this one, I seemed to be squat leaping and pressing all over the place.

So much so I changed my job, cashed in my luncheon vouchers and started retraining. It was a long journey, of longer weekends learning anatomy, physiology, medical conditions and stifling laughs at phrases such as 'cruise intervals'. I had hours that turned into days of self-doubt. I decided to make things easier for myself by signing up to do the Brighton Half Marathon to clash with my exam time, having not run since I was 14.

And as I went on increasingly longer runs, drinking in Brighton's pebbly seafront air, I spent a lot of time thinking. Sometimes you just hope other runners and dog walkers can't hear your choice of tunes but there was also a lot of visualising what it could be like to be qualified and helping people like me. It did spur me on to think I had a shot at this.

Me, the last to be picked at netball throughout my school life, helping people get fit.

Well, the retraining is over, like the half marathon. For the run, I got a rather lovely medal with Finisher on it, the chance to chat to Fat Boy Slim afterwards and a series of photos of me running where I look like I am turning into a zombie. Oh and we raised over £800. Not too shabby.

For the training - which finished pretty much a year to the day I said I would do this - I have a lot of certificates, a new website - - and my first gig running sessions at a hospice helping patients set activity goals and talk about well-being and nutrition.

I know the real work starts here. And I do have times when I worry my health could be storing up a nasty punch line to this journey I have popped myself on. I don't trust any lump or bump. Nor do my doctors. And I ran out of luncheon vouchers somewhere around when the oven blew up. But I think the fear is only to be expected, and if it wasn't health I am sure I would be worrying about something else. Isn't that what we humans do? Fill our worry space with whatever is closest at hand?

There are a lot of people I want to thank for helping me through these last few years.

One of them asked me recently if I would change having had cancer.

And bizarrely as much as I hate every bit of its cell-mutating nastiness, I said no.

Convenient, seeing as I can't change the past. But I am going to do my darndest to impact the future.


Ellie Dawes

You're an inspiration, Shiv!

Also: the candofit website looks hot.