As a celebrity fitness trainer, it would be easy to assume that running the Great North Run would be a walk in the park for me. Wrong. I actually find long distance running quite a haul as I'm not built for stamina and I have a dodgy back. I'm more of a sprinter and the girls who are running with me as 'Team Sarah' are all novices and have never run a marathon before.
So what gets me motivated? I'm a great example of what can be achieved with persistence and determination, particularly when donating my time and effort for The Children's Society who do such amazing work with vulnerable teenagers.
I relate to their work as I was a vulnerable teenager suffering emotional abuse throughout my childhood with a mum who had a problem with alcohol. I lived life constantly on the edge as she often threatened to put me up for adoption. I spent my life feeling unloved, resented and unwanted and was sent off alone on holidays provided by social services.
Things escalated when I reached my teens and I learnt from my sister that I shared a different dad from her and my two brothers. It was the start of a downward spiral, I developed an eating disorder and depression. I acted like a typical stroppy teenager, but if someone had bothered to care and listen, it was obvious I was in desperate need of help. Mum's answer was to send me away. I came home from school one day to find a man on the sofa. I thought it was one of her boyfriends but it was a social worker who said' Your mum wants you out.' I learnt she wanted to send me to a children's home but I threated to run away.
She finally 'got rid of me' when I was 17 and the social worker got me a tenancy agreement on a flat. I was really excited but I didn't realise it was in a halfway house for vulnerable people, full of prostitutes and drug addicts. I saw a pregnant girl at the top of the stairs screaming that she'd been raped. I ran to the fire door and two guys threatened to rape me too but I managed to escape. Predatory men would hang around the house and try and climb in through the windows and shout at me in the street - it was absolute carnage.
I dropped out of college and only had £10 a week to live on and would sit in the dark as the gas and electric had been cut off, it was horrific. It got worse when my boyfriend became abusive - it all went under the radar and gradually everything about me became eroded and I became a shell of a person. He controlled my friendships, threatened me and made me lie on his behalf and slept with other women. But I thought being thumped in the face was normal as I often saw my mum being beaten up by her boyfriends.
I was one of the lucky ones. Thanks to a social worker who took an interest in me, my life turned around when I managed to get on a sports training course and qualified in sports management. I got a job at Gateshead Council which helped to build my self-respect. I didn't look back. It's why the Great North Run has such a special place in my heart as I worked on the run during my time at the council.
It took guts, determination and a huge amount of luck to get me where I am today, but it's that same determination that's going to get me over the line on Sunday. I'm not motivated by achieving my personal best of running in a hour and fifty, but inspiring other people who think they could never run a marathon to have a go, achieve their goals safely and enjoy it too. I'm also driven to highlight the amazing work of The Children's Society giving hope and practical support to vulnerable teenagers, who feel like I did as a teenager, unloved, at crisis point with nowhere else to turn.
Donate to Sarah's Justgiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/SE-Maxwell
If anyone would like to run for The Children's Society any races or challenge events they can apply here: www.childrenssociety.org.uk/events
For more information on Sarah visit: www.sarahmaxwell.com
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