Our Running Stories: Aine

I didn't come from a very active family but when I first met John, he was training for his very first marathon.

I basically thought he was a bit mad when he ventured out on all sorts of weather to build up his running miles.

Eventually I tied John down and we got married and life got very hectic with the arrival of the kids. But John kept running – probably to escape the madness at home!

I wondered what the appeal of running was. At that stage there were not many Cosy Sofa programmes and I didn't want to be seen struggling with my running around the roads.

This problem was solved when we moved out to live in the country and I started to walk/run around the backyard when no-one was about or so I thought until John witnessed me doing about fifty laps – this running on hard concrete is not recommended as I ended up with plantar fasciitis!

Salvation came with the setup of Ecos parkrun, I was fortunate to be at the first run in March 2012. Here I was able to take fledging steps in completing a 5k distance with encouragement and guidance of experienced runners.

Through parkrun I met many Ballymena runners who were very encouraging, and the next logical step was to join a running club even though I still did not classify myself as a runner.

Through the club I was able to increase my running distance to 10k and eventually to half marathon distance. I tentatively started in the 10 minute group and worked my way up through 9:30, to the 9s and I've just recently started in the 8:30s.

Sometimes I went willingly to the next group, sometimes I was gently coaxed and sometimes on step up weeks I was dragged along!

More importantly through running I have met some wonderful inspiring people and have made some great friendships. I have been to places I would otherwise never have been – up mountains and through forests etc.

I have enjoyed doing the relay in the Belfast Marathon, experienced cross country, competed in the Golden Mile, Race Over The Glens, Fairhill 5 and I intend to try out some of the trail runs next.

Socially the Club has organised many good nights out – the Christmas dinner, the club disco, the summer barbecue and the Santa Run to name but a few.

Of course, one of the most important is The Big Feed after a race – how the thought of a bun at the end of a race has kept me going the last mile or two when things are getting tough! This is a great time to mull over every aspect of the race with your fellow runners, often spending two hours talking about a one hour race run!

All in all, I think it's safe to say I’ve caught the running bug. I hope my children continue to run throughout their lives as you can run no matter where you are - all you need is a pair of trainers and off you go.

As for my siblings ... well they think I'm mad and blame John!