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Liz Day

How I run happy and healthy – Liz Day

We talk to Liz Day, a family and relationship therapist, who discovered that running could help her through some very hard times – and is taking part in the virtual Vitality London 10,000 in memory of her wife, Gaby.

Why did you decide to take up running?
Gaby, my wife of 35 years, died of bowel cancer on 24 May last year. She had been living with cancer for seven years.

I started running a couple of years ago by doing the Couch to 5K programme. I’d had breast cancer, and one of the things I was encouraged to do to reduce the risk of recurrence was to get fit and active. I had never run before – I am now 71 – and didn’t think I ever could because I have asthma.

I found that getting out into the park and running really helped with the stress of being a carer for Gaby.

Have you taken part in any running events before?
I did the Running 56 Miles in February challenge for Cancer Research UK and the Bowel Cancer UK walk in 2019, but the virtual Vitality London 10,000 is my first 10K event. I have run 5K several times in the park on my own before.

What was about the virtual Vitality London 10,000 in particular that made you want to take part?
I hadn’t done much running lately, so the virtual Vitality London 10,000 was something to aim for – bizarrely I am having my own bowel cancer scare at the moment, which has affected my training a bit, but I’m still planning on taking part – although it might be a mixture of running and walking.

I will do the event on 24 May, which will be the anniversary of Gaby’s death, and I’m fundraising for Bowel Cancer UK.

2020 was a particularly hard year. How did running help you through it?
When Gaby died during the first lockdown, it was an unbelievably hard time. I could only have nine people at her funeral. I was all on my own. I have been on my own ever since. Christmas, New Year and my birthday were poignant times; celebrating (if you can call it that) each milestone alone.

The next big milestone is her birthday on 16 May. Training for the 10K has given me a real focus for each week in the run-up to the first anniversary of her death.

Our 10 weeks to 10K training plan is called Run Happy and Healthy – how has training for the Vitality London 10,000 made you feel happy and healthy?
It’s really helped me get outdoors and into the fresh air. It has both given me space to breathe and time to think and process things. My asthma is rarely in evidence these days too.

Would you encourage other people to take up running?
Yes definitely. I was worried about my knees because I have arthritis, but it seems to have helped them! I’m not so stiff and I feel better about myself. Running on the grass in the sunshine is such a delight. The energy that comes from the sharp green of the grass, the vivid colours and the scent of the trees and shrubs in the air is life-enhancing.

You can visit Liz’s fundraising page and donate to her campaign here.