Carrie Walton, a Workforce Development Officer – Technology Based Learning for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the perfect person to help motivate and train her work colleagues as they get ready to take on the Simplyhealth Great North 5k, in a special NHS blue wave on Saturday 7 September.
A self-confessed non-runner who actively avoided moving as much as possible from as far back as her school days decided, in her wisdom, that taking part in the 2013 London Marathon was a great idea. Until confirmation of her place came through and realisation hit – she'd have to learn to run now!
There was nothing else for it and in April 2012 Carrie found herself signing up to a beginners running club whose leader's non-judgemental approach and constant encouragement she credits as the reason she stuck with it. It wasn't long before Carrie could say she had fallen in love with running.
Having cracked her first 5k, 5 miles, 10k… come September of 2012 Carrie took her place on the start line of the Great North Run as part of her marathon training, saying: “That 13.1 miles through my hometown was magnificent and to this day remains the most proud 2hrs 40 minutes of my life.”
However, two years into her running disaster struck and Carrie picked up an injury that took so long to heal, by the time she was back to full health she had lost the spark for running.
Fast forward to 2018 when an advert was sent out from the Better Health at Work team and something resonated in Carrie. Looking for Run Leaders to raise the profile of running in the Trust, Carrie grabbed the opportunity on offer to get her out of her slump and slowly back into injury free running.
In June this year Carrie completed a Leader in Running Fitness training from England Athletics involving both theory and practical components and plans are progressing well for her to start up groups for absolute beginners, as she wants to be that source of encouragement, enthusiasm and non-judgement that helps people find their power through running in a safe and welcoming environment. And with the Simplyhealth Great North 5k on the horizon, along with support and dedicated training plans from Great Run, Carrie is on track to do just that.
Carrie says: “Running gives me an incredible headspace I just didn't realise I was missing and I feel more grounded after a run. It's never easy; despite how much I love it I still have to talk myself into it, but inactivity breeds lethargy and I know how much better I'll feel once I'm out. It maintains my mental health as I suffered with generalised anxiety disorder and it made me feel ‘normal' because it forced me to concentrate on something other than the anxiety.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned through running is that the human body is naturally designed to do it; it's physiologically geared up to run and it's very happy doing so. The problem is that we're so unconditioned to it – sedentary lifestyles and excess weight being key limiting factors. But with time, effort and dedication you can get to the point where running feels natural and good.
A big fan of motivational quotes, one of Carrie's favourites is ‘Never give up on your dreams because of the time it will take to achieve them, because the time will pass anyway.'
And that just about sums it up to perfection!