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Be Grateful for the People Who Help You Go That Extra Mile

My dad is one of my running inspirations. It means so much to me that he was the person I started running with on chemo two years ago. And, it means even more that he's still taking every step with me.

Easter weekend 2016 won't be remembered for the weekend I got up at 5.30am to run 30km as part of my marathon training.

It will be remembered for the weekend my dad did.

Just one year on from a hip replacement, having not run more than 10k for four decades, he told me he'd come for the first lap of three.

I had a feeling he'd attempt the lot (if my daughter with a hip full of metal and cancer-scarred body can do it, etc etc). And, you know what? He did.

My dad is one of my running inspirations. It means so much to me that he was the person I started running with on chemo two years ago. And, it means even more that he's still taking every step with me.

Some may say this would explain my (often misguided) determination. I think they're right. (I should add that my mum is just as determined on the walking and swimming front with her hip replacement - as seen when we finished the Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbonwalk in a ridiculously fast time last year.)

Over a recovery coffee, I asked him where he got his determination from and he told me the story of an outbound adventure trip and a very big hill.

The instructor on the trip said that there were two types of people in the world - the ones who run up the hill and the ones who walk. My dad was one of only four people (out of about 40) to run up the hill.

And I think he ran up that hill once more this Easter weekend.

That story got me thinking. Who are my running inspirations and what would those people say to inspire others to give it a go?

Here are a few of them - and here's what they said (without knowing why)...

1) My dad

Running inspiration because... See above!

Top tip: Don't go off too fast and remember to run your own race. You know your body and you need to listen to it.

2) Fran Walker

Running inspiration because... Uni friend Fran trained - and raised money - for the 10k run for Breast Cancer Care I decided to attempt during chemo back in 2014. She trained for it because she wanted a challenge (new mum trying to find some space). But, I'll never forget what she did that day. She stuck by me. I knew she could have run faster (at one point she was almost running on the spot to stop herself), but she did it for me. She then went on to join me on my 'end of treatment' 10k (forget drinks down the pub) and wore a giant boob around Bath for our first ever half marathon in 2015. I think I wore her out, but she'll be back from temporary retirement one day - maybe not for a marathon though!

Top tip: Club together with a friend to set joint targets. The companionship is what keeps you pushing on.

3) Alex Weight

Running inspiration because... Alex is one of those schoolfriends you don't see for seven years and then you catch up like you've never been apart. Her amazing mum Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer just before me and she decided to run the Bath Half in 2014 to fundraise for charity CoppaFeel! as a result. That run prompted me to get back in touch, made me aware of CoppaFeel! (I now volunteer as a Boobette) and inspired us to come together again for the Bath Half in 2015. I was in pain on the starting line following a hip injury, and she - along with Fran - was there with me all the way round (offering motivating chants and hugs). Spot the patten here!

Top tip: Running is a mental game. Break your race down into manageable chunks. At the 20-mile mark of my first marathon, I got chatting to another girl and said: 'just 10k to go!'. We had a laugh about it, but in all seriousness, we'd run lots of 10ks in training, so what was another?!

4) Laura Weatherall-Plane (and team)

Running inspiration because... Laura has secondary cancer and running helps her take control of her body. That's why she runs the Plymouth Half as often as she can - raising thousands for CoppaFeel!, and that's why she ran the Bath Half in a giant boob this year, just days after a blood transfusion. Mention should also be made of her fantastic husband Jon, who's by her side in every race and CoppaFeel! CEO Kris Hallenga who attempted her first half (the same Bath race) just weeks ago (she's also living with secondary cancer). Inspiring doesn't even come close!

Top tip: Get yourself a cheering squad and try to run all the way if you can rather than stopping to walk. That's what we do for the Plymouth Half and it certainly helps us round the course.

5) My boyfriend Duncan

Running inspiration because... He leaves me behind in every race (achieving brilliant finish times) and he won't be seen dead training with me, but he tolerates the Lycra, my over-sized pasta meals, the Garmin chat and me leaving running-related stuff all round the house.

Top tip: Enjoy it and don't worry about the time. It's meant to be fun!

6) Kate Pearse and Sarah Osborne

Running inspiration because... Kate and Sarah are from the Breast Cancer Care Events team. Kate supported me so much when I ran my first race - and has been supporting me ever since (best cheering voice ever). Sarah ran the marathon last year and has been sending me amazingly thoughtful messages all year. Kate believed in the woman with no hair and a PICC line in her arm that ran (or, more accurately, completed) her first 10k on active treatment and Sarah believes in the runner I've become.

Top tip from Kate: Incentivise those runs - whether it be through buying lovely kit you look forward to wearing, running in places you love or want to explore or enduring something delicious when you return home (avocado on toast is my treat of choice!). From Sarah: Make sure you put your name on your running vest when you're racing.

7) Annick Hollins

Running inspiration because... Most people who've had pelvic reconstruction surgery (including surgeons) will tell you that running is not to be recommended. Annick - she's had the same surgery as me but on both hips - is not one of those people. She runs marathons and she runs rings around the rest of us. She is truly awesome and she makes me think that if she can, so can I (just hope our surgeon isn't reading this)!

Top tip (the only one she'll let me publish as the other one is just for me): If you sweat, you need to replace what you lose and, in most cases, water is not enough. For me, that means electrolyte drinks!

8) Alexandra Heminsley

Running inspiration because... It was her book (Running like a Girl) that encouraged me to think I could turn my 10k chemo run into a marathon journey. From tripping on pavements to choosing running trainers, her book showed me the way and continues to motivate me even now. Alexandra is one of those ordinary people doing extraordinary things! Read it, reread it and believe you can!

Top tip: The first 10 minutes of your first ever run are pretty much the worst you'll ever run. You get better faster than you could ever imagine and you're more capable than you could ever imagine. No one told me that!

There are more - including my other charity friends (Hannah Gray and Laura Fountain - aka Lazy Running Girl - take a bow), Emily and Rob who were part of team 10k in 2014, my cousins the Briggs boys (including Nick who ran the New York Marathon last year), Guardian running editor Kate Carter, fellow first-time marathoner Sarah Notton and celebs Chris Evans (or should I say #oneinamillion 953859) and Nell McAndrew (famous and fast with exercise DVDs that got me through hip rehab). (I would add Eddie Izzard, but he does make one marathon look like a stroll right now.)

But, today, I want you to think about the people who put a spring in your step, the people who remind you that you can when you think the road ahead is just too difficult. Think about the people who lift you up, who stick by you when you try and push yourself to the limit and encourage you to be a better version of yourself. Think about the people who make you smile because they remind you of all that is beautiful in this world of ours. Think about the people who would run 30k with you (on no training), just to make sure you go the distance!

Because, make no mistake, if you're running a marathon - or taking on the challenge of your life - these people (or the thought of them) will get you round.

My dad would tell you he hasn't achieved much in his life (the humble man that he is). I would have to disagree!

Thanks to my running inspirations - I'm still going...

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