Can I give more? The answer is usually yes.

For the past few months I have been writing blog posts to showcase the amazing grit and determination of our event participants as they’ve supported Scope by taking on marathons, triathlons and extreme bike rides.

Now it’s time to turn the spotlight on myself. I want to tell you about my personal running experience; the highs, the lows, and my motivation to pick up a pair of trainers again. The quote in the title is from Paul Tergat, a Kenyan professional marathon runner. I’ve found myself relating to him a lot recently!

The pledge

Back in April I made a promise to our director of fundraising, Alan Gosschalk, that at some point this event season I would get involved in a Scope challenge event. It’s almost a rite of passage in the events team.

Conveniently for me, my pledge went forgotten for some time. That was until we met our Ironman UK participants in Bolton in August. I told them it would be a walk in the park and that they would enjoy the whole experience – which made me feel like a total fraud!

I remembered my promise and decided it was time to stick to my word. That evening I signed up for my first ever 5K run.

These shoes were made for running…

I begun my training routine in earnest using the NHS couch to 5K training plan. I had seven weeks to make sure I would get round the course without stopping.

I decided to invest in a decent pair of running trainers after having gait analysis at a top running shop. Gait analysis is a system where the motion of your feet is analysed to make sure your get the correct footwear. This involves running on a treadmill at three different speeds whilst a staff member watches the angle of your feet.

I managed the 5K distance in training, and was aiming to improve my speed. But two days before my run disaster struck! On my last training run, I couldn’t even complete 500 metres. My shins were in agony. I hobbled home in tears, upset that my weeks of hard work had come to this.

But after talking to my brother – who was doing the run with me – I was determined to carry on. I thought the pain was caused by shin splints, pain and swelling in the lower legs as a result of my body not being used to running.

Race day

A hilly running route
A challenging course

On the day I turned up to Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent ready to give it my all. I hadn’t done my research on the course and was shocked when I was faced with a cross-country, hilly route. I had only trained on the roads in suburban London!

There was no time to worry about that though. The klaxon went and my adrenaline kicked in. Thankfully, my brother stayed with me the whole way, chatting to me non-stop and helping to keep my mind off the pain.

Sarah Bowes after completing a 5K run
Happy after completing my first 5K

We crossed the finish line in exactly 37 minutes and I was thrilled! It took a good 48 hours to wipe the huge smile from my face and I was incredibly proud that I had actually done it, bursting into tears of exhilaration.

It may not be the quickest time but I know that my efforts in training and fundraising would make a big difference to the cause I was supporting.

The future?

Eight and a half weeks ago I couldn’t run the 200m from my house to the top of the road and I’m more determined than ever not to get in that state again. My doctor confirmed that the pain in my legs is shin splints so I have three weeks off from running, dancing or jumping to recover.

But I will be back to running as soon as I can. I know 5km is not the longest of distances but for me it was a big personal challenge that I managed to overcome.

My brother and I are already looking to do another 5K before Christmas. My aim for 2014 is to get a minute a month off my 5K time by pushing myself like Paul Tergat. When I can comfortably do a 30 minute 5K I will increase my distance and go for 10K. Watch this space!

If my story has encouraged you to get up off the couch, take a look at what Scope event you could get involved in next year.