Rhondda GP Ian O’Sullivan demonstrated to patients and colleagues how running can be the road to fitness and well-being by completing his first London Marathon.
The 35-year-old father of two took up the sport just two years ago as ‘something to occupy myself’ and do some exercise.
It started with a 5km park run with friends on a Saturday morning but he soon caught the bug. (More information at http://www.parkrun.org.uk/)
“It got addictive and I started going every week. I began to time myself and timing my friends and it gradually became a more competitive thing.
“But I enjoyed the fact that I could do it whenever I wanted and didn’t have to wait for a group.”
Now he has run the London Marathon in a respectable 4 hours 21 minutes, raising more than £6,000 for the Welsh cancer charity Tenovus.
“I want to say a massive thank you to the patients and people of the Rhondda whose messages of support were phenomenal and helped me to run through the pain,” he said.
From a medical point of view, there were many benefits from taking part in running, he said.
“You don’t need equipment, just a pair of trainers and some time. Anyone can do it, even if you have never run before.
“I started to enjoy it more because of the social benefits of running with friends and people I had not met before and it gets you out. It relieves tension and stress and gets the endorphins running.
“I never thought I would run a London marathon when I watched it when I was younger but sometimes you have to take life by the horns.
“It is quite tough when you start off running when your body isn’t used to it but once you are past the initial stage it becomes more enjoyable rather than painful.
“The worst part of my marathon was around 13-14 miles. I knew I had trained at that distance. I just told myself to keep going and every mile was one closer. There were times when I struggled but I ran with a friend and we kept each other going.”
Meanwhile, novice runner Dawn James began by supporting a friend at a beginners’ class with the Rhondda Valley Runners in January, never intending to take up the sport herself.
The practice manager at St David’s Surgery in Ton Pentre admitted: “The first time I ran I couldn’t breathe. But the second time I felt a bit better and I ran two miles without stopping. Each time after that I ran a little further until my best was 5.6 miles in one hour and one minute.
“I am doing it for fitness and exercise. But I have just got engaged and am motivated to lose some weight ahead of the wedding.
“There is also a lot of heart disease in my family and I am hoping to improve my cardiac fitness.
“I am feeling a lot better and more energised; I’m eating better and drinking more water.
“What made me realise I really liked running was when I was running down a country lane one day. I was looking around me and thinking about things and forgot that I was actually out running. You can lose yourself in the running. It has also given me the opportunity to see lots of lovely places, parks, tracks and areas that I wouldn’t usually see if I wasn’t running. There are so many great places to run while enjoying the surroundings and views.”
Dawn, 38, is preparing for her first competitive run of five miles and plans to enter the London Marathon next year.