8 Mar

Run For Your Life

Jenny BakerThere are a myriad reasons to run but 'Run For Your Life' by Jenny Baker tells us in the most straight-forward and impactive style how running became a lifeline in her successful recovery from breast cancer. Jenny first spoke frankly about her experiences in her blog before writing her remarkable book. 

Jenny Baker was just 50 years old when she received the devastating news that she had breast cancer. At that time she was on her way to her 100th parkrun and a regular marshal and pacer for her local half marathon, feeling that she was close to her peak of running fitness. Rather than let the disease take over her life, Jenny’s natural instinct was just to keep running and in doing so she found a way to come to terms with the diagnosis and to build essential resilience to deal with all that lay ahead. The over-arching sentiment in her thoughtful and inspiring writing is that running enabled her to retain her sense of identity, when she felt like she was losing everything else. It is a brilliant story of coping that will resonate with anyone facing the same thing, runners or not.
 
As a member of Ealing Eagles, Jenny was coached by Kelvin Walker, race director of Ealing Half Marathon and event director for Pitshanger junior parkrun. Jenny explains what happened next: “I planned to run Ealing Half Marathon in 2014 but injured myself so ended up marshalling instead,” recalls Jenny. “It was wonderful though, cheering people on and enjoying the great atmosphere. I loved it so much, I decided to marshal again in 2015 but didn’t expect I would have just finished a course of chemo by then. I did it though and I was based at mile 12, which was just brilliant, cheering all the runners in the last mile of the race”.
 
Among many extraordinary twists of fate was when Jenny discovered her oncologist was a marathon runner. With his support, she decided to stare cancer right in the face and ran the seven miles alongside the river to each chemotherapy session at Charing Cross Hospital. For Jenny, turning up at each chemo session on her own terms was a way to take control of a situation where she otherwise had no control, as she explains: “I started running weighed down with sorrow, but after a few miles along the river in sunshine and good conversation I arrived feeling lighter and ready for what was ahead.” 
 
Jenny is 16 months post surgery now and has a gained a 'good for age' place at Virgin Money London Marathon in April, which is sure to be a huge milestone. 
 
“Run in the rain, in the shade, in the sun. Run through parks, along canals, beside roads, on trails. Run for your life, and your life will thank you for it.” (Run for your life blog).