‘I live for my children – so it’s lovely to have something for me’ – Emily’s story

Posted 29 June 2023

This time last year I couldn’t have run from one lamp-post to another’ says Emily. We’re delighted that she’s chosen to share her journey with us, as she prepares for her first half-marathon.

‘A year and a half ago my world turned upside down when I became a single mum overnight. I was left to cope with my new born baby and four other children.

But joining Caldicot Running Club changed my life in a way I could never have imagined. When my husband left, my children would spend the day with him every other weekend and I didn’t have much to do whilst they were gone. Having been pregnant and going through IVF in the previous 5 years, I started by taking part in the Couch to 5k programme. Last October I ran my first 5k with an amazing group of people. I’m now part of a six-month coaching programme with the club, and this October I’ll be running the Cardiff half-marathon and raising money for Gingerbread.

Finding time to run

The training is going brilliantly. I run 4 times a week, and each session is a different type of training. Every 6 weeks we do a fitness test to see how far we have come and to decide on our speeds for the next section of the plan. I have just started week 7 and this Sunday I will be running 8 miles, the furthest I have ever run. In fact, I am not sure I have ever walked that far!

One thing that has really surprised me is the mental well being that comes with running. I am still going through divorce and juggling life with the children. So I find that running can completely change my mindset. It can transform my day so positively. I live my life for the children and it is lovely to have something completely about me where I don’t think about anyone else.

It can be a real challenge to fit in runs so I plan each week in advance to make sure I complete my sessions. The running club have a Facebook Messenger group where we provide each other with support, and Polly our coach keeps us on track. It’s hard to get out sometimes being on my own with the children but my youngest now goes to nursery for 2 hours twice a week so I run then. It’s been tough at 1pm in the heatwave but it’s great to get out and keep up with the training. I run when the children are with their Dad every other weekend, and I now have a running machine so I can keep up with the plan even if it means running on it late at night once the children are asleep. I also have some amazing friends – one of whom also runs, so we look after each other’s children whilst we run.

Getting the whole family involved

My children see me get ready for runs in the morning and I let them know whenever I am training. They also love using my treadmill! I like showing them how important it is to commit to something they enjoy for themselves, and how good reaching goals feels. I have got them involved with our local junior park run where they either run or help me volunteer. It is such a positive environment and I like them to experience it.

Sadly, they won’t be able to cheer me on at the half marathon, as they will be with their Dad (I can only do races when he has them) but I talk to them about what I am doing and they are really interested and proud. I can’t wait to show them my medal!

I love the work that Gingerbread do. I first remember hearing about it as a child in the 90s. When I became single, I looked up the charity online and couldn’t believe how much support was offered. I have used the website a lot and think the support Gingerbread gives to people is amazing. It can be an overwhelming time when people are at their lowest. I shared my Just Giving page on social media and friends who know what I’ve been through have been very supportive.

I have lots of friends who have either got back into running or started running for the first time since talking about the half marathon.  My best bit of advice to anyone thinking of giving it a go would be to find a supportive running club. Following a programme helps with confidence as you have a a goal to reach. Also if you can run with a friend that really helps to feel less nervous. You don’t need anything fancy for your first run – just make a plan, get your trainers on and go for it!’

Read more at Emily’s website, Thriving Single Mums Club and  her Instagram pages, Thriving Single Mums Club  and Single Mum Runs which are aimed at single mums in similar situations. She’s hoping to build a community of like-minded people dealing with the grief of divorce and making positive changes.