Claire Whitfield

“As a child I never really took part or particularly enjoyed exercise apart from PE at school because you had no choice. I was a bit of a rebel as a child and was smoking by the age of 12, shocking I know, it disgusts me now, but at 12 years old, and mixing with the wrong crowd and an older sibling who also smoked, well I guess I didn’t know any better. 

I started running about 17 years ago just after quitting smoking. I didn’t want to gain weight so I joined a gym and started running on a Treadmill. I was very slim but so unfit I could only run for about a minute without stopping. I continued pushing and upping the time on the Treadmill and when I managed a whole 25 minutes I was chuffed to bits.

I lost my dad suddenly 2 years later in 2005 at the age of 55, he was a smoker and didn’t have the healthiest lifestyle, we also have a family history of heart disease /failure, so I wanted to improve my health and fitness even more. 

My first official race was the Greggs children cancer charity run in Gosforth, a 5k Cross country run in May 2009, I also took part in this run for the following 3 years. I then entered the Great North Run for 2012 but had to defer until 2013 due to a prolapse and bulging discs in my back. This was a huge set back for me as I was unable to run for 3 months and even after this time it was a gradual increase in activity over the next 6 – 8 months to gain my strength and fitness back. Mentally this was really hard as I was on crutches for 2 months and in chronic pain . To help me get through this I took long walks on my crutches and carried out the strength and stretching exercises the physio gave me to keep my mind focused on recovering. 

I ran my first half marathon (GNR) in 2013, my biggest achievement at this point, in a time of 2hrs 7 minutes. 

I ran this in memory of my dad and my uncle who had died 4 years earlier of cancer. I always remember crossing that finish line and being overwhelmed with emotions, a mixture of pride and sadness. I then went on to complete the GNR again in 2016 and 2019. I also completed the Hamsterley Forest half marathon which was brutal, 3 miles up steep terrain which I completed in 2hr 10m, my hardest achievement by far. 

I run 5-6 times a week, covering around 40 – 60 miles a week. I love how a morning run sets me up mentally for my entire day. I have entered the Manchester Marathon for next October which will be my first ever marathon. Excited but nervous is an understatement.

I set up a Facebook group & my IG page to help inspire and motivate others to increase their activity, whether that’s running, walking, cycling  whatever they prefer to give them a healthier lifestyle. From my experience consistency is most definitely the key to success.

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