The ‘Cardiff Half’ is of course fast approaching, and the Staff Wellbeing Team is proud to be part of the action. Wales’s largest road race takes place on Sunday 1st October this year, and it’s a sell-out for the first time in its history, with around 25,000 runners. Cathy Bailey and Keith Lynch, of the Staff Wellbeing Team, have signed up for the race. As I will be ‘support crew’ (OK, it’s still a very important and challenging role…..), I decided to interview intrepid runner and Staff Wellbeing Officer Cathy Bailey about her own journey towards the big day.
HG: This is your first Half Marathon, Cathy – what inspired you to take part this year?
CB: I first got into running around 10 years ago, after spending my childhood and the majority of my twenties firmly believing I couldn’t run. After some external ‘encouragement’, and much pain even making it to my first mile without stopping, I finally believed I could run and gradually increased my mileage. I signed up for my first Cardiff Half Marathon in 2009, but became pregnant shortly after this and although I still ran short distances for much of my pregnancy, it became apparent that longer runs were not a good idea. Since then, other events and family life have got in the way, but this year I was determined.
HG: How did you go about planning your training?
CB: I have three small children and I find it hard to plan training precisely. I find it easier to have a rough idea of doing a longer run at the weekend and a few shorter runs in the week, when they fit, which I’ve stuck to (most weeks). I’ve been gradually increasing my longer-run mileage up to around 9 miles recently. Fingers crossed I will complete the whole 13 and a bit miles in October.
HG: Like a lot of people, you have to fit that training around commitments at work and at home – what helps you put on your trainers and get out there?
CB: I know how good running is for my mental and physical health. I feel like a better person when I have been for a run and really enjoy the space it creates in my life. This is a huge incentive to get out there.
HG: And how are you finding the running?
CB: I find running a bit like yoga, it can be painful at times, but makes my body and mind feel better. Particularly when life gets stressful, it can become a ‘need’ rather than a ‘want’. I use it as a mindfulness activity and leave my phone at home, preferring to focus on what’s going on around me, particularly enjoying watching the clouds and the sky. I can become very aware of how cluttered my mind is at the start, thoughts of ‘I can’t go on’ at times and moments where I feel light, energised, joyful, spacious and connected to the world. These moments I really cherish. Although the more painful moments less so! It’s fascinating how many different factors can impact how the runs go (e.g. mood, sleep, general wellbeing) :- it’s an interesting self-development exercise.
HG: What are you looking forward to about the day itself, Cathy?
CB: I’m not the fastest runner in the world and the half marathon for me isn’t about getting an amazing time. It will be a huge achievement to make it to the end and I’m really looking forward to being part of such a great event. I’m also fundraising for my friend’s appeal ‘Martha’s Dancing Heart’ which gives money to the neonatal heart unit at the University of Wales, and it’s great to be raising money for a good cause.
HG: Well obviously I’m going to be there, cheering on the sidelines, looking out for you, and for Staff Wellbeing Officer Keith Lynch, who will also be taking on his first Half Marathon as part of #TeamCardiff, Cardiff University’s Half Marathon effort. Congratulations to both on taking up the challenge – and good luck!
Staff Wellbeing Team