Running stories

A new book out called ‘Running Stories’ tells the tales of those who run – why they do it and what role it plays in their lives. 100% of the revenue from sales is being donated to The Running Charity, who use running to improve the lives of homeless young people in the UK.

I’ve you’ve ever thought about taking up running and just want that little extra push, buy this book. It’s full of very relatable tales from normal people. ‘Normal’ as in busy people, depressed people, overweight people and older people, not the Olympian gods you think of when you think ‘runner’.

The book is very well edited, with the stories kept short and snappy, organised in sections so you can easily gravitate to those which most resonate with you most, and it provides also the bare essentials of tips on how to get started.

Three of the running stories are from people who live in Chiswick.

Images above: Beccy Lockspeiser

Beccy Lockspeiser – cigarettes and running really don’t go together

Beccy Lockspeiser started running because her flat mate suggested they run the London marathon. She was 26 and smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

“Running made it easy for me to give up cigarettes, as they really don’t go together.”

She also thinks Marathon training helped prepare her for childbirth:

“The build-up and preparation. A certain amount of pain. And a great elation and joy at the finish!”

Images above: Running Stories; Stacey Tasker

Stacey Tasker  – great way of making friends

Stacey Tasker went along to a Parkrun with her daughter.

“I only wanted to run once a week, not far, and lacked a competitive streak. It was at a low time in my life as I’d just moved to London and had few friends.”

For her, the friendships which evolved on those weekly runs are as important, if not more so, than the running itself, especially as she says fellow runners came to her rescue when she caught Covid last year.

“Who would have thought that running would prove to be such a vital bridge in my life, especially as I’m always whinging as I run along, no matter how short the distance.”

Images above: Camilla Langlands and Jacquie Millet, Ultra marathon runners

Jacquie Millet – everyone is capable of so much more than they imagine

Unlike Stacey, Jacquie Millet is definitely competitive. She and her daughter Camilla have earned a Guinness World Record for the most marathons run together by a parent and child – more than 200 of them in ten years. Their lives are now dominated by travelling the world to take part.

In 2020 they were set to run marathons in Boston, London, Chicago and New York. They were due to take part in the Two Oceans in Cape Town. As experienced runners they were booked to set the pace for other runners at races in Limassol, Liverpool and Milton Keynes and they were going to compete in their favourite of all races, the Comrades Marathon in Durban.

Instead of which they found themselves running around Richmond Park on their own.

Image above: Jacquie and Camilla in Richmond Park

While definitely in the Olympian goddess category now, Jacquie only started running at the age of 57, relatively late in life, like so many others in this book, because she’d had a health scare and wanted to get fit.

“One of the things we love most of all” she says, “is when people tell us how much we’ve inspired them – to try running, to enter a particular race, or just to push themselves that little bit further.

“We truly believe that everyone is capable of so much more than they imagine”.

Images above: Seyfu Jamaal, celebrating winning the London Landmarks Half Marathon

Seyfu Jamaal – a lifeline

That is one of the recurring themes of the book – people being agreeably surprised to find they are describing themselves as a runner, when they never in their wildest dreams imagined they could be. That and the other strong themes of comradeship and freedom – how running together creates bonds and builds friendships as people support each other through tough times and have a laugh together. And how very liberating running is, both mentally and physically.

One story in particular caught my eye; that of Seyfu Jamaal, who came to the UK to seek asylum from the political turmoil and problems in his place of birth, the Bale Province of Ethiopia.

As a teenager he travelled through Sudan, Libya, across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, across Europe to France and finally England, witnessing immensely traumatic events along the way.

“I witnessed people being murdered in the desert so that the traffickers could assert their authority.

“We were treated as a commodity. Bought and sold.”

Seyfu was referred to The Running Charity by the British Red Cross and they were able to provide his with an environment where he felt welcomed, listened to and supported.

“Running removes my stress, my mental problems. I forget; it’s my remedy.

“When I run, I am healthy, I am happy.”

Having won the London Landmarks Half Marathon, beating more than 14,000 other runners, he is now an elite runner, but still runs with the charity.

“The Running Charity is my family. Without them I would be at home alone and not socialising.

“Your friendship is something I never want to lose”.

Think of someone in your life who might appreciate this book and buy it now from Amazon:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Jacquie Millet and Camilla Langlands – Ultra marathon runners

See also: The runner’s dilemma – Where to run during a pandemic

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