Alex Heminsley, best selling author and journalist, is calling on people to lace up their trainers and support St Catherine’s Hospice by running for them in the London Marathon. Here, she shares why running for a worthy cause like one of her local hospices, St Catherine’s, can benefit you when the marathon gets tough.
“It was 2007 when I decided to challenge myself to start running. I’d never been for a proper run before and I could barely make it to the end of the road at first. But I’m proof that anyone can run.
I used to think that being a runner was something that you were born with. But then I realised that all you actually have to do to be a runner is to run. And I’m so glad I took those first running steps because it’s changed my life.
In six years, I’ve run five marathons for charity and it’s something I’d encourage you to do too. Running for a charity, like St Catherine’s, is a beautiful experience; because when you’re running for a purpose, when you don’t want to let people down, and when you know there’s a tangible benefit to completing the marathon, it really helps you. It physically gives you the inspiration and the courage to keep going.
If, for example, you’re on mile 12 of the marathon, your knees are hurting, and you’re really tired, knowing that you’re running to support someone who is terminally ill will remind you how lucky you are to have legs that can carry you. And it will remind you why it’s so important to keep pushing yourself while you can.
Knowing your efforts and the money you raise will help people have the best possible end of life experience will make every single ankle twinge, bead of sweat, or time someone swipes your cup at a water station, easier to deal with.
On marathon day thinking of the people you are running for will be forefront in your mind. By then you’ve done your training and you know your legs are strong enough. So it’s what’s going on in your head and your heart that will motivate you through those 26 miles. Because when you run a marathon you run with your heart as much as your legs.
A marathon also brings out the best in human beings. And it’s such a special day, as anyone who has run, or cheered from the pavements will know. On the day, you’ll run past people weeping for loved ones, weeping with sheer exhaustion, and weeping with joy as they cross the finish line. Because they’ve done something they never believed was possible.
There are so many great things about ticking a marathon off your to-do list but the very best thing is that for the rest of your life, you’ll know that you’ve done something that’s really made a difference to someone else. That makes every moment of the 26 miles worth it.
Running has given me a world of joy. And I hope some of you will run for St Catherine’s this year to experience the same.”