Who inspires you to run? We all draw inspiration from so many different people. It might be a relative, a friend, a superstar or your children.
My running heroes when I was growing up are probably familiar to you – Steve Cram, Steve Ovett, Liz McColgan… and those who ran shorter distances, like Roger Black (I had a teenage crush) and Sally Gunnell.
My mum showed no interest in running herself, but she liked to watch the athletics (perhaps she had a crush on Roger Black too) and so we spent many happy hours cheering on British athletes. Later, me and my little brother would attempt to re-enact their triumphs in the garden.
A couple of times I competed in the county championships at the Saffron Lane Stadium in Leicester – a real athletics stadium where I could almost imagine I was one of my idols.
Now, my heroes are different. Yes, I admire Mo Farah – and the night we spent watching him win in the Olympic Stadium last August was one of the great experiences of my life.
But most of my heroes now are ordinary people I’ve met, who do amazing things. Or people I speak to online, who encourage and inspire me.
When I worked with Lucy Clark in Sussex, more than a decade ago, we spent so much time at work and in the pub, that there wasn’t much time for exercise.
A few years later she told me she had taken up running, and suddenly she was zooming through marathons and competing in triathlons. I thought she was quite mad. Last year she completed a half-Ironman; I still think she’s mad. But hugely inspiring.
Jonny Muir was a colleague in Cheltenham – at the time, I was vaguely aware that he spent less time in the pub than everyone else, and more energy pounding the pavements.
I’ve followed his progression over the years – sub-3hr marathons, ultra races, madcap schemes to cycle to the highest point of every county – and I think he’s a bit bonkers too. But hugely inspiring.
These are not world-record breakers, they’re not famous, they don’t get paid appearance fees for turning up. They just keep on doing what they do, for the love of it.
And if they can do it, so can I. So can you! I’m realistic – I’m never going to run a sub-3hr marathon. But I will run a marathon. I’m never going to win any races, but I might one day be able to complete an Olympic-distance triathlon.
And just maybe after that, I’ll start to see the appeal of ultra-running and Ironman. Who knows?