Going the extra mile

It has never occurred to me to label myself a runner. I have always loved to run and used to do so quite regularly in my early 20’s. But then in my late 20’s I got married (my husband gets the blame for most things) and my motivation got lost in my expanding waistline.

After lots of broken fitness promises and crash diets, in October 2015, a friend suggested I joined her for a fitness class at a new trampoline centre that had opened near our home. 45 minutes later, despite my body telling me otherwise, I realised I had loved it. The guy running the class was supportive in an army major kind of way and it made me work harder than any solo gym session had ever done.

The centre offered a variety of fitness classes, so I took the plunge and sampled a few. They were all ran by the same instructor who also offered Personal Training and soon it became apparent that with his support and encouragement, I didn’t just love exercise- I was hooked on it. And suddenly I really wanted to run again.

Cold rainy wintery November is probably the most ridiculous time to take up running again, but that’s exactly what I did. There is something about the wind against your cheeks and the pounding in your chest as you get through it that leaves you feeling exhilarated. Running quickly became my release after a stressful or busy day and an opportunity to quickly throw away the stresses of the day and return feeling great about myself.  It doesn’t matter that I don’t run fast and sometimes I don’t even run that far but every run feels like a great achievement.

flamingo land

I really wanted to do something worthwhile and challenge myself at the same time whilst sticking with the fitness theme so I started looking at organised running events and thought I would set my sights on 10k races. I wanted to make sure I would stay motivated and raising money for a charity seemed ideal. But if I was going to do it, I wanted to run more than 6.1 miles once. That was when I decided to do a 10k race every month of 2016.

The next step was to find a charity. I knew I wanted a local charity and I wanted one that I really believed in.  My research brought me to The Children’s Foundation website. As soon as I read about the work they did I knew that this was the charity for me and instantly wanted to contribute to the amazing work that was going on for them.

My husband came with a ready-made family. He has a little boy who is now 8 years old and has autism. He’s got learning difficulties and his whole life has been a battle. He has hearing problems and issues with his behaviour and has an emotional battle with himself every single day. The centre I train in offers a variety of children’s activities and actively promotes the health of children, discriminating against no child. As a family we are passionate about making sure our family are healthy and understand the importance of this and after reading The Children’s Foundation mission statement to promote health and wellbeing of young people, it was evident they were the perfect charity for me. Every time I cross a finish line, I feel honoured to be raising money for them.

durham half marathon

My first 10k was terrifying. Everyone seemed so professional and I felt like a fraud. But crossing that finish line in under an hour in my Children’s Foundation running vest brought a feeling like no other and suddenly just doing 12 10k’s didn’t feel enough. I started looking into half marathon’s and obstacle runs. So far I have completed 6 10k’s, 2 half marathon’s, have my first obstacle race in 3 weeks and have another 6 10k’s, 2 half marathon’s and 2 obstacle runs lined up – but would love to do more.

At the moment my body is clocking up more miles than my ten year old car. I’m averaging 20miles a month in organised races so have to train pretty extensively. I mix the running up with Personal Training and classes to make sure there’s variety and the biggest obstacle in this challenge is definitely the toll it has all taken on my body. I’m in my 30’s now and my body isn’t always as motivated as my mind. But each time I hit a low point, I look at all of the amazing work being done by The Children’s Foundation and it spurs me on to keep going. I am completely overwhelmed by the support I receive through my Just Giving page and currently have raised £150 online and about the same through sponsorship forms. I also write a regular blog and the support from people I don’t even know is incredible. Likewise, The Children’s Foundation has been amazing and has helped in every way they can from promoting my fundraising to making me look great in their TCF t shirts and vests whilst I do it.

sunderland half marathon

I’m quickly discovering it’s not just the physical benefits of running I have fallen in love with (although dropping 3 dress sizes is great for motivation), but the mental ones too. At every race, all of the other runners are supportive and encouraging and you quickly feel accepted as a runner.  My family and friends are fantastic, cheering me on with supportive messages, with my husband and step son always making sure they are at every finish point. Social media groups are full of people offering supportive words and advice and suddenly it all becomes clearer – it doesn’t matter how far you go, or how long you go for, if you run, you are a runner.  And now it’s a title I feel proud to have and I have no intention of giving it up.


Volunteer Fundraiser for The Children’s Foundation


To sponsor Jill please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jill-Cull2