Blackburn resident Tracy Davies has been running for 11 years. A member of Blackburn Road Runners club, along with our Running Mayor Andrew Gardner, Tracy shares her story about why she started running. But the reasons she pulled on her running shoes are not what you might expect.
Tracy said: “As a child and well into my adult life, I hated sport. I was never confident when it came to any kind of sport. My family medical history is poor, mainly heart conditions and diabetes. And at 36, I was told that my cholesterol was extremely high. I was a smoker, had a stressful life and did not think about what I ate.
“I wasn’t overweight, but there was weight to lose. I decided to look at my diet and reluctantly enroll in the local gym. This was helped by a work colleague who said she would come with me. At the time I was leaving my work place so it was a great way to stay in touch.
It was just so empowering, I felt freedom in a kind of way just being there on the open road
“Off I went to the gym. And wow, that was so scary. They all looked so good and knew what they were doing. I noticed my body shape changed, my confidence grew, and overall I felt and looked better. Then in 2006, my niece was killed in a hit and run. Her death had a massive impact on me as I’d been heavily involved in her seven years of life. My mental health suffered with losing her, and I found that exercise really helped me on my recovery journey.
“My running journey started in 2014. By this time by mental health was improving, and I knew that exercise was my saviour. I didn’t take any medication. My medicine was exercise.
Running isn’t easy for me
“A family member had started the Blackburn Couch to 5k and was due to run one Saturday for a solid eight minutes. They said to me “just because you go to the gym, I bet you can’t run”. So I went along that morning and I was definitely out of my comfort zone. Off we went on our walk/run and I ran a solid eight minutes without stopping. Don’t get me wrong I was out of breath but it just felt different from the gym. That eight minute run gave me something else which is hard to explain.
“It was just so empowering, I felt freedom in a kind of way just being there on the open road. Taking in what was around me and feeling awesome at the end of it. I kept on going back week after week.
“Running isn’t easy for me. I completed the Couch to 5k and then went into the Progression Group which would take us up to a 10K. Running in Blackburn is never easy. Hills, hills and more hills – but I turned up every week and no matter how hard it was or how much I moaned, I kept going back.
“My fitness grew, I made new friends and I actually liked running. My friends used to think I was mad “getting fit” later in life but it gave me a new life, a better life and more confident outlook. My cholesterol had lowered naturally without any medical intervention. My mind was healing after the trauma of losing my niece.
Running in Blackburn is never easy. Hills hills and more hills
“I did my first 10k, the Ronhill 10k, and that was hard. Not long after that race I joined Blackburn Road Runners, and to this day remain a member of the running club. I’ve since run half marathons, 10 milers, 16 milers and 20 milers!
“2017 was a fab year for Personal Bests, so this motivated me to run a marathon. From a person who hated any kind of sport to taking on such an enormous challenge – I was ready. I did the Manchester Marathon in 2018 with ease and I loved every minute of it. I dedicated the marathon to my niece, and raised money for the charities Brake and Lancashire Mind.
My friends used to think I was mad “getting fit” later in life but it gave me a new life, a better life and more confident outlook
“Am I glad I started running? The answer is yes. What it provides for me personally is overall wellbeing, good not only for my physical health, but for my mental health. It is really hard to explain if you don’t run, but there is a type of release with running. They say you can have 99 problems, but when you run you just forget your problems and focus on what is around you there and then.
“Will I keep running? At times we all lose our mojo, but whilst I am fit enough to run, I will.
“The Couch to 5k has brought the people of Blackburn together, made them fit, promoted our health and wellbeing, and made it a running Borough. I’m proud to be part of the running community and can honestly say that while it’s a challenging sport, it’s one I am so glad I do.
Andrew Gardner, Blackburn with Darwen Running Mayor, met Tracy at running club Blackburn Road Runners, Andy said: “Tracy is such an inspiration. She is proof that running is for anyone who wants to try it.”