When Gill Rose’s husband Chris died of bowel cancer in 2004, she discovered running. Her new-found passion helped her to rebuild her life. In 2012, 44-year-old Gill raised £1,000 for WAY by running in the London Marathon. Gill tells us how running changed her life.
Q: Why did you first start running?
“I was lost after Chris died, I felt my life was in pieces and at times I didn’t even want to be here anymore without him; I had no idea where to start building a new life for myself. I couldn’t even begin to look forwards.
A year after he died I made the decision to run the Race for Life in Southampton to raise some money for Cancer Research in Chris’s honour and memory. I was determined to run the whole race rather than walk it, but I hadn’t run since I was at junior school so I had to start training!
It’s hard to believe now, but I hated the idea of going out for a run. I followed a beginner’s training plan for six weeks and during that time I came to love it. It made me feel alive again, pushing my body to its limits. It gave me something to focus on and strive for and achieve, and it helped me grow as a person. It was the first time I looked forwards, because I planned races to do and it somehow made me feel at one with the natural world around me.
I ran my first marathon in Paris in 2008 – a few days before my 40th birthday. And then I jumped out of an aeroplane a few months later to raise money for the Countess Mountbatten Hospice in Southampton, where Chris spent the last week of his life.”
Q: Why did you decide to support WAY inthe London Marathon?
“WAY helped me a lot after Chris died. It was through WAY that I found some invaluable support and friendship with other younger people who had lost their partners too. I chatted with people on the online forum and met up socially with people local to me. It was good just to know I was with others who understood how life was and it was OK to talk about it. But we also just had fun together too and that was just as important.
I managed to raise £1,000 for WAY through the London Marathon – and to bag a new personal best time of 3:37:19 into the bargain. So I was well pleased!”
Q. What advice do you have for other people who might want to take up running after being bereaved?
“Find a beginner’s training plan that you can follow or find out if your local running club has a beginner’s course. Visit your local running shop and get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes so you can avoid injury. Take it one step at a time; I could only run for two minutes before needing to walk when I started. But in six weeks, I was able to run 5K and a few months later I was running my first 10K.
And don’t just run. Do some Pilates/core work and some cross training like swimming or cycling, as this will help you avoid injuries (take it from someone who found out the hard way!).
And most of all join a local running club where you can run with other people of the same level as you. You will find bags of encouragement and good advice and a whole new social life to boot!”
If you’ve been inspired by Gill’s story and would like to raise funds for WAY through sponsored events – however big or small – all you need to do is set up an online fundraising page through Justgiving or VirginMoneyGiving.
Contact email@example.com for more information.