My name is Emma Slawinski, I’m 34 and I live in a beautiful village in rural West Sussex. I live with my husband and a completely ridiculous cat called Vinegar Jones. My job splits my time between working from home, commuting to London, and working abroad. I enjoy long afternoons in pub gardens, pottering about outside and spending time with my large and noisy family.
Why and when did you start running?
I was in a local athletics team in my early teens, but since then I hadn’t run at all. My hobbies were horse riding and occasional bike riding. I was really unfit, but had reasonable core strength from horse riding, mucking-out and throwing hay bales around. In September 2014 I had a crashing fall from my horse, going head first into a tree at about 30 miles an hour. I was lucky to survive (thanks to my riding hat), but broke both my shoulders. I have healed well, but still have regular physio. I have ridden since, and enjoyed it, but gave up my own horse and decided to have a break from owning for a few years.
Having a horse is more of a lifestyle than a hobby, because it takes up so much time. So suddenly not doing that anymore left a huge hole in my life. I was suffering a bit psychologically as well, so needed something positive to focus on. I felt the need to do something physical, as my muscles had all turned to jelly. My brilliant husband suggested we started the NHS Couch to 5k programme, and we did our first day walk-running on 12th June 2015. Mark is more of a cyclist, and running was giving him knee trouble, so he stopped coming with me after a few weeks. I am now able to run 5k. Which I feel very proud of, as I found it hard to believe I would ever be able to run that distance. I am still very new to it all, having been running for about 11 weeks so far, and have a huge amount to learn.
What does running do for you?
Running clears my head and connects me with my body. It also gets me outside into the countryside and helps me to explore the beautiful surroundings. Progressing gives me a real sense of achievement. I really enjoy the community aspect of it; there are lots of other runners, cyclists, horse riders and hikers round here, so it is nice when you start recognising faces. I get overtaken all the time, but normally people give me a cheery ‘hello’ which helps me to keep puffing along.
Do you have any running goals?
I would like to be able to run 5k in less than 30 minutes. At the moment if I run at that pace I run out of steam at about 4.5k. But I am sure it will come with time. I would also like to be able to run 10k. I am toying with the idea of entering a 10k that a few months away to give myself a deadline. Mainly, I just want to keep running, enjoying it and hopefully avoid injuries.
What’s your greatest running achievement?
The furthest I have run so far is 7.5k. I was so pleased! But I think my biggest achievement was the first 5k I did, as all the way along I had little gremlins in my head telling me that I was too tired to carry on, that I should stop and rest, that I am not a runner, and so on. I was so pleased to hear my running app announce I had done 5k that I did a little jig. Fortunately, no one was around.
What’s the biggest challenge you face at the moment?
I am not really sure how to start working towards my next goals. I really struggle with confidence, so if I look up a 5-10k training plan, it all seems far too difficult to achieve.
What has been most helpful to you?
The DYRT facebook group has kept me going. It is so motivating to see what everyone else is up to, and to feel part of ‘the gang’. Also being able to see yourself progressing is really helpful, so I try to record each run I do and look back. That helps because although I am still very slow, I am faster than I was!
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