As the year I married my best friend at 7.20am on the Cutty Sark, ran the London Marathon moments later and trekked a giant Chinese wall in the sky to gift our wedding back to charity, 2017 was always going to be memorable.
But, there was one thing that never crossed my mind when I decided to run around London in a wedding dress.
That in putting on my trainers and getting out into the fresh air, I would inadvertently motivate others to do the same.
Ask me what I remember most from this year and I will tell you about the messages from friends, family members and strangers that have filled up my inbox and my heart. Messages from people who have gone further than they ever thought possible – because I helped them believe it was possible.
Humbling and moving doesn’t even come close to explaining how this makes me feel.
Since April 24 (the day after the marathon wedding when my legs were still broken), people have been asking ‘what next?’. How do you build on a marathon wedding and honeymoon trek?
After a lot of soul searching – and Google searching for extreme challenges – I have decided.
I could go bigger and push my body to new limits, finding new edges. But, what the wedding photos don’t tell you is that there were nights when I cried myself to sleep, terrified that the pains in my legs would stop me moving forward.
I don’t need to discover new edges (and my metal hip and rearranged body certainly doesn’t either). Exercise is my post-cancer life insurance policy.
I need a daily exercise habit not a one-off goal. And, I want to share that habit with all who feel like reaching for their laces and turning their face to the sunshine.
#Milesbetter2018 is a year-long campaign to encourage people to build movement and exercise into their lives.
If I have learned anything in my life, it is that small steps can make a really big difference.
Exercise and movement can change the course of your day and, in so doing, your life.
Movement doesn’t mean marathons.
After reconstructive hip surgery, I couldn’t face the stairs. After life-changing cancer surgery, success was opening the door, feeling the fresh air on my face and walking across the road. With two marathons, dozens of half marathons and a three-mile freezing open water swim under my belt, I understand that movement (whatever form it might take) isn’t just a great thing to do – it’s essential.
And, it always makes a good day even better.
It is wonderful to feel the effects of exercise on my body and know I am doing my best to keep well. But, it is even more wonderful to read about those who have also taken up exercise or challenged their bodies in some way as a result. It inspires me hugely and is the reason why 2018 isn’t a year for one extreme adventure – but lots of exciting ones (hopefully with you).
So here’s the plan:
- My personal 2018 pledge is to run, walk, swim and cycle my way to 2018 miles in 2018 (dedicated activity-based miles only - including running and cycling to work).
- In so doing, I want to encourage 2018 people to try something new, move forward in their own lives (whether it is couch to 5k walk, 10k to half marathon or a mile in the pool) and turn those miles into smiles.
I would love you to be one of them.
All you need to do is pick your challenge, publicly commit to it (via a social media channel of choice, tagging me in and using the campaign #Milesbetter2018 hashtag) and then post a picture of you having completed your challenge. You can also private message me if you’d rather keep your challenge private.
And, if you fancy logging 2018 miles with me, please get in touch. With around five and a half miles a day (thank you cycling), it’s going to be an energetic and challenging year!
With three 10ks booked in already, I hope to join many of you as you embark on your movement-related voyage of discovery. I will also be raising awareness for Breast Cancer Care, Willow and CoppaFeel as I go.
These incredible charities have shown me that when you have the right people by your side, you can go a really long way.
The hardest part? Taking that first step.