Great North Run diary pt 3: pregnancy flashback during the last push

AFTER giving birth – twice – Helen Russell has the stamina to run the Great North Run and the determination to raise money for a little-known North-East charity close to her heart.

HELEN Russell can run 5km without stopping. Not something I ever thought I would say or see written down. But it’s true. Two things happened this month that suddenly made the “it’s ages away yet” Great North Run appear quite visible on the horizon and made the fundraising part of this challenge seem very real and daunting.

“To put into context how unfit I was, the thought of running the Great North Run filled me with more uncertainty and fear than the thought of going through a 40-week pregnancy and giving birth.”

Firstly, I received an email from the Great North Run organisers on June 12th, merrily telling me that, on this day in three months, I would be lining up to start the run. Then, after weeks of frustrating bureaucracy and jumping through hoops on One To One’s part (who knew it was so hard to set up online sponsorship) I finally sent my fundraising page live. Which made me feel slightly nauseous. I had my first donation within minutes…. Thanks (husband) Sean!

Read more about Helen Russell’s hilarious and humbling Great North Run diaries:

Part 1: “What I lack for in fitness I make up in determination”

Part 2: A second wardrobe malfunction but the endorphins kick in

“I’m pretty sure the same determination that got me through a three-day labour and a second labour that was so sudden I didn’t have time for pain relief, will get me through a 13-mile run.”

When I started this challenge back in January, I decided I would look on it, timewise, as being a bit like a pregnancy. At that time, the Great North Run was nine months away. Both of my successful pregnancies started in the month of January.

When I saw the second pink line on those respective pregnancy tests in 2012 and 2014, I couldn’t fathom how I would get through a pregnancy and give birth just nine months later. Yet I did it twice.

So, on a much smaller scale, in January 2016, I also couldn’t fathom how I would get fit enough to run a 13-mile half-marathon just nine months later.

Helen Russell pregnant with first daughter Molly (right) at six-months pregnant in June 2012 and her Alice-bump, at nearly eight-months pregnant, in August 2014 (left)

Helen Russell pregnant with first daughter Molly (right) at six-months pregnant in June 2012 and her Alice-bump, at nearly eight-months pregnant, in August 2014 (left)

To put into context how unfit I was, the thought of running the Great North Run filled me with more uncertainty and fear than the thought of going through a 40-week pregnancy and giving birth. But I’m pretty sure the same determination that got me through a three-day labour and a second labour that was so sudden I didn’t have time for pain relief, will get me through a 13-mile run.

Staying with pregnancy analogy for a moment (because pregnancy and looking after babies/toddlers is my comfort zone), you go for weeks without having a bump, then suddenly it grows really quickly and you think “wow, where did that come from”.

Helen Russell with proud husband Sean and their daughters Molly (left) and Alice (right).

Helen Russell with proud husband Sean and their daughters Molly (left) and Alice (right).

Well, once I started pavement running, after spending the equivalent first trimester of my training hiding away on a treadmill, I found I started progressing really quickly. I push myself to run further each time I go out and I can’t even describe how amazing it feels to run 5km. Over the next few weeks, I aim to push myself even further as the third trimester of my training schedule approaches.

I haven’t lost any weight, but this is the first time for many years I have maintained the same weight for seven consecutive months, and I’m starting to feel slightly more toned up. However, I really must place heavy emphasis on the word ‘slightly’.

Sometimes it’s quite hard to fit a run in. Sometimes I feel more of a sense of achievement at squeezing in a quick 20-minute jog when a tiny window of free time unexpectedly opens up than when I go on a longer, scheduled run. And sometimes I just don’t feel like running at all… Yet those are usually the runs where I go further than I expected.

Now that I’ve started clocking up the miles in my running shoes, I would love to start clocking up some donations for One To One – The Befriender Scheme. My father-in-law Mick, the charity’s manager, spent many weeks researching sponsorship pages and trying to set-up an account in One To One’s name so that I could collect money online on their behalf.

No matter how big or small the donation, it will go some way to making life a little better for some of society’s most-overlooked members – adults with learning disabilities. The small contribution that One To One has into their lives makes a massively positive impact.

CONTACT:

To donate to Helen Russell’s first Great North Run in aid of One to One – The Befriender Scheme, click here.

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