My name is Alison (Ali) Wood and I’m a teacher living in Glasgow, Scotland. Until last year I was working in retail management, in Aberdeen, and I am loving my new life in Glasgow for both personal and running reasons, enjoying trying out Glasgow’s various parkruns and races. I live with my partner of almost 7 years and when not running, I love to eat out (a LOT!), drink wine, and see my family and friends who I am very close to.
Why and when did you start running?
I ran for general fitness in the later years of school, when I was around 15/16/17. I ran on and off whilst at uni, but not in a serious way, very sporadically. And then 4 years ago I decided to train for my first half marathon, the first serious running event I had done really, on the gorgeous Isle of Arran. I just needed something in my life which I could feel proud of, and could really aim for. The feeling of achievement after completing this event was immense. I loved it and was hooked. Since then, I’ve done 19 half marathons, 5 marathons, and a variety of shorter distances too.
What does running do for you?
Running makes me feel healthier, each time I go out I feel alive and aware of myself. Without running I think sometimes I could spend a whole day indoors which is not healthy. Running has helped me lose a bit of extra weight I put on last year, which is great. But more than the obvious physical signs of health, running is really about the mental side of things for me. It has helped me to deal with anxieties and difficulties which I could not have dealt with ‘on my own.’ It makes me a more positive person, and reminds me even when I feel rubbish that I can achieve hard things, and put up with pain and discomfort. It makes me feel stronger.
Do you have any running goals?
In the next few months, I have a few short term goals. Sub 22 minute 5k, sub 45 minute 10k, sub 1:46 half marathon. In the long term, I’d love to just keep doing at least one marathon per year, there’s nothing like them for a feeling of pride and accomplishment. And I really want to do an ultramarathon, but scheduling one at a good time is tough. I’m thinking early next year.
What’s your greatest running achievement?
Probably my 3:59 marathon. I had trained hoping to break 4 hours, and I did, just. But it wasn’t about the time. I just had a great race, well paced, I lapped up all the support and beautiful scenery, I chatted to other runners, I soaked in the whole experience and felt grateful the whole way round. I met a man called Billy (hi, Billy, I never saw you after that day and still remember you!) and we ran the last 8 miles together. We shared words, encouragement, banter and support and it really provided me with a reminder of what running is all about for me- connections with like minded people.
I’m almost certain I could beat this time now (it was 2 years ago), but I don’t care… as I say, this one wasn’t just about the time.
Another proud achievement more recently was my 45:48 10k. For years I’ve considered myself a pretty ‘average’ runner and this was the first time I thought, hey, I’ve worked really hard and that’s what you get when you work really hard, a time that surprises you because you didn’t think you could run that fast.
What’s the biggest challenge you face at the moment?
At the moment, the biggest challenge I face is time. As a new teacher, I have a lot to do and a lot to plan. So I have to be even more meticulous in order to make time and space for my running. But I keep telling myself- I am happier, healthier, and more positive when I DO get to run, so it’s as important as all the other things in my life.
What has been most helpful to you?
I can’t stress this enough- JOINING A CLUB! Since I joined a club only 3 months ago I have had a new PB in 5k, 10k, and half marathon. I cannot believe the difference in me as a runner. The track sessions and tempo runs are something I just could not force myself to do alone. I lack the will power and motivation. But it makes it easy when there are people to follow, people to chase. This is only one side of things- the camaraderie is also fantastic. Anyone who, like me, has a partner who is not in the slightest bit interested in running knows that sometimes it would be nice to have someone who cares about your running. And suddenly there are many people who do, courtesy of my clubmates. Everyone is encouraging, supportive and really cares about how everyone else is doing in training and racing.
Also- regular racing. I love racing as it forces me to get out there and try hard. Even if I don’t get a ‘great’ time for me, I get a good tough training run and know it has done me the world of good for the next race. So I enter lots of races in a very unplanned and unpredictable way, just as and when I see them. And I love it.
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