From couch to half marathon: why I’m running for hospice care “Excited”, “anxious” and “proud” – these are the three words 59-year-old Jo uses to describe the upcoming Great Birmingham Run. In just over a year, Jo has gone from sofa to 10k to half marathon, and admits that she loves her new found running bug. Here, she explains why she’s putting on her trainers for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice… It was only last year when I stood at the sidelines of the Great Birmingham Run, cheering on my godson as he ran 13.1 miles. I remember turning to my husband and saying “I’m going to do this next year” and sure enough, just 12 months later, I’m preparing for my first-ever half marathon. I’ve never been a runner. I love walking and I love dancing but I’ve never been one to put on my trainers and run. It was only when I saw a notice at the Bournville Rowheath Pavilion, promoting the NHS’ ‘Couch to 5k’ initiative, that I thought I would give it a go. In just 10 weeks, not only had I completed the 5k goal but I had also well and truly, caught the bug for running. Not wanting to stop, I decided to give myself a new running challenge and so I took part in the Great Birmingham 10k in May. It was a sweltering hot day, which made the six-mile run even tougher, but that feeling as I crossed the finish line was just unbelievable. I got such a buzz and it made all the training, the hard work, and the heat worth it. And it’s that very feeling which has driven me to progress even further and do the Great Birmingham Run – a half marathon which takes place in the city centre this October. For me, running is a great way to get fit, tone up and keep my mind healthy. I love being outside in the fresh air and, as I’ve now joined a running group, it’s a fantastic opportunity to catch up with friends and meet like-minded people. But there’s another reason why I run – it’s so I can show my support for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. For both the 10k and half marathon, I decided to run in support of the Hospice, to help raise vital awareness and funds. I’ve been volunteering at Birmingham St Mary’s for three years now, since I retired as a nurse. I volunteer both on the inpatient unit and as a bereavement counsellor and both roles are incredibly rewarding. I see first-hand the care and support the doctors, nurses, therapists, counsellors, volunteers and more provide and the positive impact they can have on a person living with life-limiting illness. Volunteering at the Hospice is like being part of a big family – there’s a real team spirit and everyone genuinely cares and values their work. When I’m volunteering on the inpatient unit, I work closely with the ward clerk and will often meet and greet people, chat with family members and support with admin tasks. As a volunteer bereavement counsellor, I help people to cope with the grief of losing a loved one, as well as help them to feel safe again. I feel incredibly honoured to do both of these roles. Living with a life-limiting illness or losing a loved one can be a pivotal moment in a person’s life, and it’s a privilege to support them during this time. That’s why I feel proud to be running a half marathon for Birmingham St Mary’s. Whilst I’m anxious and excited to do the run itself, it’s a real honour to know that every mile I complete, I’ll be helping to make a real difference to people when they need it most. Thank you Jo for sharing your story with us. If you’ve been inspired by Jo’s story and would like to get running for hospice care, take a look at our fantastic running events here. Or, if you would like to sponsor Jo and help her cross the finish line, why not make a donation to her Just Giving page? It will cost £8 million to run the Hospice this year – over 60% of which needs to come from generous voluntary donations – so we really do rely on the kind support of local people to make sure we can continue to provide our vital services.