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Rebecca's Story

"Running is the hobby I never knew I wanted."

I never really enjoyed PE at school or had any particular interest in sport, and I guess this carried on into adulthood. Over the years, I would use the exercise bike at home and had tried yoga, but never really stuck to anything.

I enjoy walking regularly in general and, before I moved to another hospital, this would be my commute to work. It was here I started to recognise the importance of being active and moving regularly.

Then in November 2015 I started a new job in a central London hospital and found my exercise levels took a dive as I adjusted to the new routine.

I went through a number of family events which changed my life forever.

We had gone through my mum becoming an amputee in November 2016, to the following month losing two grandparents through different illnesses in quick succession.

As a small close-knit family, we were dealing with this as well as supporting my mum who was doing amazing with her rehabilitation and now walking with a prosthesis. It was sometimes hard to see the effects though as I was busy living in London and my family were up in the north.

We decided to go on a family holiday in August – this would be our new beginning – my parents, Grandma and sister headed to Tenerife. However, on the morning of our flight home, my dad broke the sad news that my mum had suddenly passed away in her sleep.

Rebecca taking a selfie outside with the grass behind her.

Of course, this was a shock to us all and literally swept the rug from under my feet. I wasn’t even 30 yet, how can this happen? I ended up taking a few months off work and on return knew I needed extra help. I’m a therapist specialising in trauma, orthopaedics and surgery, which means I come across people with conditions like my mum had on a regular basis, and this would be acting as a constant reminder.

I guess it was here I would notice myself having a low mood, experiencing anxiety symptoms and a fear of the unknown. I decided to seek help using our Trusts counselling service, something which I still use it today.

Through talking therapy, I found myself with the increasing urge to “run” and this would be at the forefront of my mind more and more.

Rebecca wearing black running gear, running outside in the park.

I thought: "Why not give Couch to 5K a go?" I eventually started it in May 2019 … and have never looked back. 

Sometimes it’s easier said than done to go running. I understand the importance of self-care and continue trying to achieve that work-life balance daily. For me, this is between working, food preparation, running and socialising (now we can again!).

I’m realising that fitting exercise and running into my lifestyle is both a choice and commitment. The coronavirus outbreak brought a new stressful environment into the workplace, as well as the need to adjust to a new way of life.  Being in the NHS, we have that “keep going” attitude and I wanted to keep my resilience up during this challenging time.

So, I took the time over lockdown to restart my exercise routine. I started doing workouts when I can to work on strengthening as well as C25K.

I thought: "Why not give Couch to 5K a go?" I eventually started it in May 2019 … and have never looked back.

I know that after running I will have more energy, my mind will be clearer, and I feel more positive.

I now pick the days in advance when I’ll be going for a run and make myself stick to them, no matter what day at work I’ve had, knowing that I’ll feel better afterwards. I also try to go for a longer run on a weekend and I’m enjoying it now I can go further.

I now aim to go running 2-3 times a week and it never fails to surprise me that exercise doesn’t take as much time as you think to fit into the day.

Without C25K, I don’t know where I would be now. It has helped my mental health, self-confidence, fitness and motivation. It has given me a new purpose and I want to keep on achieving.

I’ve also lost weight, which wasn’t the sole goal of the plan. However, after going down a dress size or 2, I can say I’m proud of my body and the health gains from running.

I would say my ultimate proud moment, though, is how many of my friends have taken on the plan after seeing me start. I would say their compliments have meant the most of all and I want to inspire more to do the same.

If I could sum up with a phrase: “Running is the hobby I never knew I wanted”.