Army spouse Nikki Durnell hated running – until a life-changing event gave her a reason to get fit. Two years on, she’s about to take on the London Marathon…


THE me of two years ago would have spat out her mouthful of vino if anyone had said ‘you’re going to run a marathon one day’, writes Nikki on her blog, nikkisrunninglondon.wordpress.com

“I literally couldn’t run for 30 seconds. Then, in April 2014, my healthy, gorgeous mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I felt completely helpless and needed to do something. I decided to run the Race for Life and wanted to actually run it. So I joined the gym and started training.”

Setting mini goals
Nikki began by running for 30 seconds, then walking for 30 and repeating, gradually increasing the length of time and distance.

“By race day I was up to 5k and feeling proud of myself,” she added.

Spurred on by this success, Nikki signed up for her first 10k – not an easy task when fitted around two young children and a husband often away.

“I was really beginning to love running,” she continued. “I ran the 10k in just over an hour and to celebrate I entered a half marathon. Are you getting an idea of the sort of person I am?

“By the time I ran the Bath Half Marathon, I had lost more than two stone and, aged 34, was the fittest I had ever been.

“On the day, I ran my socks off. It hurt, the last few miles were horrendous, but I loved it. I had so much support from those close to me and soon signed up for a marathon.”

MARATHONDUR1Family tragedy
In April 2015, Nikki’s mother lost her cancer battle and it wasn’t until months later that she realised she was a mess, emotionally and physically.

“I made the decision to withdraw from the Bournemouth Marathon,” she explained.

“The pressure of training was too much when everything else was already such a struggle. I stopped eating well and looking after myself. After some rest I needed something to get me back out there.”

A marathon place
“Along came my kick up the arse! I had applied to Bowel Cancer UK for one of its London Marathon charity places.

“Sat on a train, I picked up my voicemail to hear someone offering me a place. I burst into tears. Here was the chance to run the most famous marathon in the world for a charity that means so much to me.”

Nikki’s training is now in full swing and she encourages others to take up running.

“For anyone just starting, download the ‘couch to 5k’ app. Every time you go that bit further, the feeling you get is so worth it. Running was my sanctuary during mum’s illness and when I run London I’m determined to smash it. This one’s for you, mum.”

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