The best time to change is now.

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Puarenga parkrun in New Zealand. 

Sometime last year I met Alison for the first time. It was at Stratford parkrun. She was instantly engaging. I soon knew that she was born in the UK but had lived in New Zealand for 13 years. She was only back here because her dad had died; to help organise the funeral and to spend a little time with her mum, Hilary. She had recently set up Puarenga parkrun back ‘home’.

If I’m honest I never expected to see her again. 

But before long Alison was back here, along with her husband and their son, for a more prolonged stay to help her mum sort out a few things.  As soon as she got settled in the UK she became part of our core team at Stratford parkrun. She runs her own coaching business – Fit For A King  – and writes for Huffington Post on health and wellness. When I read this blog about how almost anyone can run a marathon if they put their mind to it, I asked her if she’d write a guest post for me. Here it is.


I could never run a marathon.

I’m not a natural runner.

My boobs are too big for me to run.


If there’s anything that rips my undies it is hearing words like these come out of people’s mouths.

Hold fire everyone, what if we accepted all our negative self-talk and continued to live in this comfortable bubble we’ve inflated around ourselves?

Would you feel content?

Or would you let those nagging thoughts of “what if” sit on your shoulder for perpetuity?

If I had stayed in my bubble there’s no way I would be living the life I am today.

My reality would probably involve a couch that had moulded to my fat bum, Type 2 diabetes, single, lonely, no self-esteem and self-loathing in KFC bucket loads.

I was brought up watching the London Marathon each year.

There are the elite athletes but there are also those who dress up as rhinos, chickens and superheroes.

There are the skinny and fast but the not so skinny and not so fast. Yet everyone completes the same course.

I loved watching the marathon. And every year as a teen I thought it would be something cool to take part in.

It wasn’t until I was 28 that I allowed myself the opportunity to do more than entertain that thought.

I wasted 10 years on negativity. On wallowing in self-pity of never being a natural athlete. I was big-boned, my boobs were too big, and I wasn’t designed to be a runner. I wasn’t a natural athlete.

My skills lay in thinking, of knowing and writing. Why run when I could win prizes for language skills or topping the school in history?

Why? Because I was keeping myself safe.

Safe from getting out of breath, safe from sweating, safe from daring to step out of my comfort zone and challenging my own beliefs.

Who was I to think I could run a marathon?

I was that person who when talking to people about their London Marathon experiences always responded with “I could never run a marathon”.

Why did I believe that then?

I have set myself a goal of running 26 marathons (who knows, I may run more) but if I had refused to accept my own false reality I would have achieved that by now. I would have achieved more than race finishes, but instead have such belief in myself that anything is possible.

Can you run a marathon? You most certainly can.

Do you need to be a “natural athlete”? Hell, no.

All it takes is the decision to try, the commitment to train and the self-belief that yes, you can do it.

One step, one short run, change your mindset.

Change your life.  

What are you going to change?

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Alison is running the Boston Marathon on April 17th. She’ll be part of Kathrine Switzer‘s team to celebrate 50 years of her being the first woman to enter and finish that race. (If you don’t know Kathrine’s story then read this blog from Alison – it will amaze you that this happened in the USA as recently as the 1960s). Then on the 23rd April she’ll be running the London Marathon to raise money for the British Liver Trust in memory of her dad.

If you’d like to help Alison reach her fundraising target she has a JustGiving page which you can find here.

You can find out more about Fit For A King here and you can follow Alison on Twitter here.

The picture of Alison running is taken by the wonderful young photographer Felix Crabtree. You can see more of his photos here
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