Why I gave up chasing the party, to chase the race and have never been happier!

Why I gave up chasing the party, to chase the race and have never been happier!

FIRST EVER RACE: CHESHIRE 10K April 2016

Sunday 10th April 2016 (my late, Dad’s birthday). A day that I’ll never forget. Why? It was the day I ran my very first organised 10k race: The Cheshire 10k at Arley Hall. There are a million different reasons why this was a life changing day and I could spend hours writing about them, but the point of today’s blog is to try and share with you how running can change your life, both physically, mentally and emotionally.

When I was 14 years old, I would make myself physically sick or feign an asthma attack to avoid the dreaded ‘Cross Country’, ironically, something that I now love doing the most. I loved athletics at school and even during Primary school, I had always represented my town of Winsford in Cheshire. I was never a long distance runner though. It was a 100m runner and at the age of 15, I was selected to compete in the Hurdles and High jump at County level.

There’s a much longer story behind this and maybe one day, I’ll be strong enough to share it, but for a number of health and emotional reasons, I didn’t pursue my dream of becoming an athlete and instead, after A ‘Level completion, I went off to Uni to study Linguistics and English Language.

When you discover the party scene as a young and naïve 18-year-old, it’s very easy to be sucked in and any healthy habits are tossed aside. You don’t eat properly; don’t exercise enough and spend most days in a drunken stupor (well I did anyway)!

For the following 10 years, I fell in and out of love with exercise, doing it for a month here and there and then giving up because it was ‘too tough’ or ‘I couldn’t find time’ or ‘a million other more interesting things to be doing.’

When my dad died in 2012 (following a very short battle with cancer) and I was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease of the spine the very next day, my world was shattered into a million pieces.

Following cortisone injections and the contraction of a nasty spinal infection, I was told that I’d never be able to run or do high impact exercise again. Things hit an incredibly low point and I felt life ebbing away. The following two years were spent in a haze of partying, doing stupidly crazy things and trying to escape from what I had let myself become. I went out to every pretentious bar and club on the scene, wanting to be part of something; seeking acceptance; attempting to numb the pain. I would get so blind drunk that I’m ashamed to say, many weekends, I wouldn’t remember how I got home, if at all. It was a vicious circle of self-perpetuated misery. Everything around me was breaking down: my mental health, my body and my marriage.

October 2014 and I was admitted to hospital (for analysis in the sleep clinic, following 10 years of severe insomnia). What followed, possibly changed my life forever. At 2.05am, when I had finally drifted off, the emergency crash team burst into resuscitate me (or so they thought). My heart was wired up and being monitored. Apparently, my heart rate had dropped to 15 bpm and Doctors feared it was going to stop. Prior to this moment, if I’m truly honest, I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I had a broken heart for so many reasons. Following weeks of walking around with a heart monitor attached to my body, results were inconclusive and there was never an actual heart diagnosis given.

HEARTSTOPPING WAKE-UP CALL

This really was a stark wake-up call and I knew that things had to change. Was life shit? Yep, it was at that point and then to be diagnosed, as a high functioning severely depressed person on top of this, wasn’t exactly what I needed to hear. It was a do or die moment I guess and if I was going to live, I had to make some serious changes.

2015 and the entire year was spent doing some mega soul-searching, power-walking and running down the River Mersey in South Manchester. Gradually, my mind started to feel stronger and my body didn’t feel as fatigued. Although the physical pain from my spine was excruciating, being down by the water soothed my brain no end and finally provided the sense of escape that I had been longing for. Life changed drastically when my marriage finally collapsed and divorce ensued. I felt like a complete failure, but I knew I could never make anyone happy until I finally found some element of happiness within myself. It took 18 months to build up enough strength and courage to enter my first race, but when I saw that the Cheshire 10K was going to be on my Dad’s birthday, I knew it was a sign. Dedicated training and taking running seriously had become my lifeline. I swapped party shoes and the soulless nights out, for fresh air, nature and the sense of achievement that running gave me. It saved me from myself. The fulfilment that came from running, far exceeded any pleasure that I thought I was getting from my binge-drinking, partying weekends! Although I run alone, the support of the running community was phenomenal and people go genuine.

 

ONE RACE, ONE LIFE

That one race changed my life. Achieving a PB of 44.09 gave me a sense of satisfaction like no other. I felt complete. My confidence grew and I caught the bug, met the love of my life, married, featured in the top 5 woman ‘The Body 2016’ competition in UK Women’s Health magazine and now marathon training!

 

So far, I have completed 9 organised races, including 2 half marathons and this Sunday will be my 10th race back where it all began back at the Cheshire 10k and almost 12 months on, I’m hoping to smash my PB with my 2 biggest fans: my mum and hubby cheering every step of the way. More details of the RunthroughUk events and Cheshire 10K can be found www.cheshire10k.com.

When you hit rock bottom, just remember that one tiny step forward can change your whole entire life.

Following my new found happiness, this year, my next challenge is to become a fully qualified running coach, in the hope that I can help others find happiness through running. Watch this space!

#NeverGiveUp

 

Caithy x

 

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14 Comments

  1. pete
    March 20, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    powerful stuff…keep up the great work 👏👍

    • CaithyWalkerBlog
      March 21, 2017 / 1:17 pm

      Thanks Pete. I’ve deliberated for months over whether to be so honest, but I do really want to share with people the difference that running and exercise makes to both the body and mind!

  2. March 21, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    Of course we all need money to live, but chasing money for money s sake can take you off track from your true passions and leave you feeling hollow. Simplify your life, do what you love, and the money will follow.

    • CaithyWalkerBlog
      March 21, 2017 / 1:30 pm

      This is very true indeed. The law of attraction. Breath, believe, receive!

  3. March 21, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Caithy your story is amazing. You have turned your life around from one of self punishment to one of life affirming strength. I am sure that there have been many dark days but you seem to be coming through those. Running has such a positive effect on the inner self. After my stroke I didn’t think I would run again but slowly over time I got back. Just the feeling of running again helped me overcome my depression. Unless you have suffered depression you don’t truly understand the places the mind takes you. Running for me has helped with both my physical recovery but more importantly my mental recovery. I still have some way to go but reading your story and the honesty in which you told it is amazing and will help others.

    • CaithyWalkerBlog
      March 22, 2017 / 10:55 am

      Thank you very much David. I couldn’t agree with you more- depression is such a complex illness and as you say, unless you have suffered from it, it is very hard to comprehend. You are doing so well and are a perfect example of why people should never give up, despite going through adversity. Your tenacity is infectious-keep it up!

  4. David Bowden
    March 21, 2017 / 5:49 pm

    Caithy an amazing inspirational story with so many parallels for me. Your dad is looking down, watching over you and bursting with pride .

    • CaithyWalkerBlog
      March 22, 2017 / 10:59 am

      Thank you very much David-I pray so! It does make me sad some days that he’s not here to share this, but then conversely, I don’t think I would have done this had he not departed from this world. Grief can be a great motivator in some ways!

  5. Samantha
    March 24, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    Thank you for writing such an inspiring and honest post. I follow you on social media and find you such an inspiration. I’m currently sidelined from running due to the high impact on my spine. I’m finding it so hard not getting out, exercising and doing what I love. I was wondering if you had any top tips about running with a spinal condition? I saw you had recommended Adidas Boosts and Enertor insoles do may try those. Do you find any particular cross-training helps?

    • CaithyWalkerBlog
      March 25, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      Thank you for the lovely comment. I’m really sorry to hear that. There is nothing more frustrating that not being able to do what you love. Are you able to power walk? On the days when the pain is too excruciating to run, I take some fresh turmeric and ginger with hot water and make it into tea and walk for a couple of miles. It helps the inflammation. I also bought an exercise bike from Argos and find this a great alternative to running. I wouldn’t cross train, I do shorts bursts of pilates and yoga to really stretch out the spine. The Adidas Ultra Boosts are the best for cushioning and the Enertor insoles have honestly changed my running experience.They drastically decrease the pain from the repeated strike impact. There is no way I could run without them. Do let me know if you want to try them as I have a £10 code. One of my future blog posts is going to be how to run when living with spinal pain. If there’s anything else I can help with, just give me a shout. All the very best and remember, positive mindset rapidly increases physical healing x

      • Samantha
        March 26, 2017 / 7:29 am

        Thank you so much for replying and for all your useful tips and advice. I will definitely be trying all of these. I would really love to see a future post about spinal pain so I look forward to that.

        If I could have the code for Enertor insoles that would be brilliant. Have heard such good things about them that I’d like to try them out.

        • CaithyWalkerBlog
          March 27, 2017 / 9:22 pm

          No problem at all. I’m going to start working on one to publish asap! They are genuinely amazing insoles and I think they’ll change your runs. Head to http://www.enertor.com and use code CAITHY10 and it should give you £10 off when you check out. Any problems, just give me a shout. Let me know how you get on x

  6. Robin McCormick
    March 24, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Be blessed, inspiring to read the story of your journey!

    • CaithyWalkerBlog
      March 25, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      Thank you so very much 🙂

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