Meet the Soma Therapists Doing the Ealing Half Marathon!
At The Soma Room, we're used to helping runners stay injury-free whilst training for races, but this year Sophie, Donna, Emily, Ann and Daniel have decided to put the (running) shoe on the other foot, and dust off our trainers to take part in the Ealing Half Marathon on the 26th September. Between us, we have a wide range of running experience - from complete beginners who have never worn a pair of running shoes before, to experienced runners who have completed a number of marathons and ultramarathons!
We will be raising money for BEfriend - an Ealing-based charity that provides one-to-one volunteer befriending services to people who are socially isolated because of physical, sensory, cognitive or psychological impairment. If you'd like to donate you can do so below - your support is greatly appreciated!
Entering this half marathon, I think I really underestimated what I was signing up for. I am not a runner. I told Sophie and the rest of the team that I won't even run for the bus. I will run if a zombie is chasing me, and I used to run if I had a football at my feet, but those days are long behind me! So this has been a really interesting challenge.
Sophie got in touch and asked me if I wanted to do the challenge on a Thursday, and I signed up for it on Friday morning. Friday afternoon, I went and bought my first pair of running shoes in about five years. Saturday, we went north to Yorkshire for my week-long holiday, and I went for my first run in four years on that Sunday. And then I ran Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 5K on each day, and I was feeling pretty good for it.
The big win for me was that I abstained from indulging in the family barbecue that took place on Monday and Tuesday, because I didn't have a chance to go for a run in the morning. So I went for a run in the afternoon and Saturday evening. And so for me, that was a double win! Kicked off training properly, didn't indulge, and actually went for a run and felt good for it. I am not on track to be able to do a full running half marathon, but my goal is not for time. My goal is just to complete it and hopefully not be in too much pain afterwards.
So if I have to walk a half marathon, it'll take me about four hours, and I can do that. "I can walk for four hours" is kind of my mindset, but I do want to try and take the training seriously, so I am currently doing an average of 5K three times a week. I did a 6.5K while I was visiting Wales on the weekend - my longest run so far. And I've also just done my fastest time, which was 5K in 30 minutes, which is still not amazing, but it's good for someone who hasn't run in forever! I think the other big win for me has been just discovering that I actually do have the mental, physical, emotional discipline to actually do this. It's so easy to say, "Oh, I don't have the time". But I do.
It does mean now that I'm not on holiday, that I need to wake up earlier than I like, so that I can get a run in before my husband starts work. Otherwise, I need to muster up some energy from the absolute bottom of the reservoir to do a run in the evening, after my daughter Layla goes to bed. So that's definitely a challenge: juggling working and looking after Layla, and trying to figure out when I train. But the fact that I've been able to find the time, I think, is quite nice.
I am hoping that next week, I will progress to averaging closer to seven, eight, even 9K three times a week, and continue on from there. I'm also interchanging my training with some yoga. I've been doing some foam rolling. I've been incorporating Epsom salt baths. So I'm really trying to do all best practices, and I'm taking on all the advice that all the runners in my life have to share. So I'd say overall, it is definitely a challenge, but a positive one.
I've run for many years now, and for many different reasons - these days mainly to explore and get outside. I love being outdoors, and the feeling of being lost in nature.
I used to run cross-country at school and would finish in the top 10 in my region. But I never really appreciated running then. It only came to me a bit later. And I think I started running for fitness, but soon I realized it was so much more than that. And nowadays I run to decompress.
I've run all over the world and use it as a means to explore. I particularly enjoy fell running. I travel to Switzerland with my friends and we go on long days of hikes, wild camping and long-distance running.
I've run only for recreational purposes. I never compete. I never really think about time. I just love getting outside. And the feeling that that one gets after the time has passed. It helps me to understand myself a little bit, I suppose.
It may be useful to mention that I'm a minimalist runner. I only wear minimalist shoes, such as barefoot shoes, and I wear them always, even if I'm not running. I am inspired by books like Born to Run, Eat and Run, What I Talk About When I Think About Running (by Murakami) and Running With The Kenyans.
I'm inspired by the idea that we have this innate ability to keep moving. And, yeah, my training has been going reasonably well. I am running every day and I'm doing some strength training and a bit of yoga. I must say, with twin baby girls, I just have to run whenever I get an opportunity to go! I have a head torch so sometimes I run at night. There really are no excuses, and I find that beautiful.
These days I am known as a keen Strongwoman, but what many people don't know is that I was once also a keen runner. In fact, running is what got me into fitness in general, and a career in gym management, personal training and now massage therapy, for which I am forever grateful.
I originally started running at a low point in my life. I was working as a part-time barmaid, unhappy with my job prospects at the time, and overweight (from too many pints and pizza). I knew I had to do something about it, and running seemed the cheapest and easiest option.
My first ever run was hard. I remember my breathing was all out of sync, 2K felt like a marathon, my legs were overcome with pins and needles on finishing a run, and everything was sore. However, in all that pain, I did remember feeling at peace with myself and my emotions - somewhat balanced.
Running became my meditation of sorts. 2K became 5K which became 10K, with a casual 21K on my long run weekends. Running had become my thang!
This journey blossomed over the years with the amazing community and friendly support of ‘RunDemCrew’, a group who meet to run and explore the streets of London as well as cities around the world. I have many fond memories of crew trips around Europe to take over the streets, led by RunDemCrew founder and talented poet and DJ Charlie Dark. I think running half marathons or marathons around a city is by far my favourite way to see the sights!
It’s been many years since I have attempted a half marathon, and although I'm a little apprehensive - having not run distance for a while - being part of the Soma Room team and overcoming challenges together is enough to keep my legs moving over that finish line. Oh, and regular massage to keep the legs fresh! (Every little bit helps!)
I am the definition of a fair-weather runner - I've been running on and off for years, but never with much consistency. In fact, my most consistent running phase was when I was training for the Ealing Half Marathon in 2016 - I remember going for long runs across London and being amazed at how much ground you could cover on foot in this city! I once ran from Ealing to Southwark to sit my driving theory test, passing many of the main London tourist sights along the way - much more interesting than being stuck on the tube.
My second major running phase was during lockdown. I had a lot of time on my hands with the clinic being closed, and running became my excuse to get outdoors and feel that I was doing something productive. I developed a really good routine, getting up and getting out before the sun rose, whatever the weather. The feeling of being out for a run when most people were still in bed was very satisfying, and it really felt like I was starting my day on a positive note.
I like to listen to podcasts on my runs rather than music - I love to learn and combining the two almost feels like I'm exercising my mind and body at the same time! It also means that I'm sometimes encouraged to stay out longer than intended if I'm listening to a particularly interesting conversation - I once unintentionally ran 20K as I didn't want to stop until the episode had ended!
Since the clinic has reopened, I haven't kept up the running as consistently as I would have liked. With the half marathon now just over a month away, I'm not aiming for a particular time. It will be a new experience for me to run as part of a team, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the support and camaraderie of the other Soma runners!
There's not much to say about my running background - I'd never run before signing up for this half marathon! I had no interest in running, not for exercise or anything actually - just ugh, no!
So I needed a little bit of persuading to sign up, but the encouragement from the rest of the Soma team made me feel that this is a challenge that I can take on, and everyone has been really generous with their knowledge and support.
I started running the first week that I signed up and found I actually really enjoyed it! I felt great, and that got my confidence going. I started slowly, running for four or five minutes and then walking for two, building up from twenty to thirty minutes over a couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, my training plans got derailed when I tested positive for coronavirus. I'm fully recovered now, but it obviously meant putting things on hold for a while. My first run back was last week, and it felt really good.
I'm doing a bit of yoga before and after, a routine by 'Yoga with Adrienne' on Youtube which is especially for running. It's been really helpful because it's meant that I've warmed up beforehand, cooled down afterwards and stretched out all the muscles that feel like they need to be stretched out, which is really enjoyable.
I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I'm enjoying the running. As the Ealing Half Marathon is my first ever race, I'm just going to be focussing on getting around the course and enjoying the whole experience.