Helen Bly - 12 Marathons in 12 Months
We were thrilled to catch up with Helen Bly! At 34, Helen decided it was time for a change, altering her lifestyle and losing 5 stone in the process. Running changed her life, and now she's running 12 marathons in 12 months to help change the life of someone else.1 | You’ve had quite the journey in terms of how much you’ve transformed your body. What do you think it is about running that helped you along your journey? Running has been a great escape for me, not only have I been able to fit and lose weight but I have been able to get healthier mentally. Running is great for channelling thoughts good and bad. I find I need to get out to help process my thoughts of the day. This has been a great reason for me to want to get out. Not only to run for physical exercise but for mental exercise. 2 | What kinds of things do you think about while you run? I think about the run. I think about my shopping. I think about what I have to do in the week. I think about what I need to do when I get in. On a good run I am generally just focussed on the surroundings and nature. I look for animals and enjoy where I am. During a race my mind is usually focussed on the race itself. I think about my running form, I think about my pace and the people around me. I plan in my head how long it will take until the next section or the finish. 3 | On the day of a race, how do you feel? What kind of mindset are you in? I try to get in a positive mind set not just on race day bit on the days leading up to it. I try to visualise myself crossing the finish the line. It’s important to keep positive and focussed and not let nerves overcome you. In my earlier running days I would be sick with nerves before races. Now I go with the flow and just get to races as prepared as I can. 4 | I read in your Women’s Running interview that you are doing 12 marathons in 12 months. Can you explain why you’re taking on such a big challenge and about the charity you’re running for? I had read about another runner being matched with a child via the Facebook page Irun4Michael. The basic premise is that children who cannot walk/run are matched with runners who dedicate miles to them. I thought this was an amazing idea and joined a waiting list to be matched with a buddy. I waited a long time to be matched but was finally matched with my little buddy Evan. Evan has Angelman Syndrome which means he cannot run and suffers seizures. I got to know his family via Facebook and they became some of my biggest supporters. They decided to come to support me at a race in November 2016 and I was blown away. I knew I wanted to do something really special in 2017 in Evan’s name so I choose the charity ASSERT who support families with Angelman Syndrome. I already had a couple of big races lined up and I though about 12 races but this didn’t seem big enough. I had already run 2 marathons in 2016. So 12 marathons it was. Runners are always doing something crazy they have never done before. 5 | What races will you be participating in? Any one you are most excited for/ most nervous about? I have already completed the Belvoir Challenge, Canalathon Ultra 50km, London Marathon and Guernsey Ultra (36 miles) I undertook Trailblaster but only finished 16 miles due to the 30 degree heat so will add an extra marathon in at some point this year. I have Piece of Cake marathon, Thames Path, Loch Ness, Venice, Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds/Liverpool Canal, Liverbird Marathon. I am really looking forward to going to Venice as I have never been before. I am incredibly nervous about piece of cake as it’s over 4000 feet elevation!! These are just my marathons/ultras though and I have done lots of other 10ks and half marathons and have lots more lined up! 6 | What other challenges are you looking to take on? At the moment I am still focussed on this year’s challenge although I have been eyeing up some ultras that I may want to do next year. I really enjoyed 36 miles across guernsey although I found it hard so who knows?! 7 | It must feel amazing knowing that your two girls love showing off your medals at school! Do you think they’ll catch the running bug like you have? I love how fit and healthy I look now and how I can be a great role model to them. I really do hope so they become a bit more interested in running themselves but at the moment it’s even hard to get them to junior park run ? I think they are quite happy to watch from afar but at least they will do a race with me once a year if I ask nicely. 8 | Do you have any tips or tricks for someone who is wanting to start running? Just do it, you won’t regret it and keep trying. Perseverance pays. When I started, 30 seconds of running seemed like a marathon. I walked for a full 5 minutes after this to get my breath. Then repeated the run twice more. I built that 30 seconds up to a minute of running and continued this until I could run continually for 5 minutes with a small 30 seconds walking break. I listened to my body and pushed myself. I made sure I got out of the door 3 times a week a week for 30 minutes to practice my running without fail. Within 6 weeks I was running (albeit very slowly) a mile. I was using trees, lampposts and parked cars as my motivation. I will just run to that tree, I will just run to that car etc. Running is a huge mind game. You can often do much more than you think you can. 9 | Of course, we must ask! Do you wear a sports bra when you run? Oh yes!!! I must wear a bra I would be bouncing everywhere. It’s so important to get the right support. Not only does it give you lift and support but it stops chaffing too! 10| Any last comments you’d like to share? Thanks for my place at the Women’s Running 10k and I am looking forward to getting a boobydoo fitting! Read more about Helen and her journey on her blog: http://www.fatgirlscanrunblog.com/
If you'd like to donate towards Helen's 12 marathons in 12 months, please visit: www.justgiving.com/12marathonshelen all proceeds go towards the Angelman Syndrome Support Education & Research Trust, helping support families all over the UK.