From Research Analyst to Run Leader!

Victoria Cusack

By Emma Thomson (PT & Otley Run Mum’s Run Leader)


Changing careers can be a very challenging time. However, staying in a career or job you don’t enjoy is even more stressful and can affect our mental health.

After having my second child I decided that a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry just wasn’t for me. It was a combination of things, the isolation of working in a lab, the company politics, the frustration of ‘is this it?!?’ I’d spent 5 years at university to analyse poo! Yes, you heard me…. POO!

Plus, I had the dreaded ‘mum guilt’. I tried to go back to work after my first child, but I struggled to leave my child at the age of 12 months in a nursery. To top it off the company I worked in decided to place me in a different area from the one I had worked previously. I found myself having to learn a new area at work, as well as being a first time Mum.

It was hard, I couldn’t cope. So, I made the decision that I could no longer work there anymore. There were tears, anger, frustration, sadness…. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I wondered how other Mums were doing this when I couldn’t. What was I doing wrong?!

It took me a while to get over those feelings, and they still resurface to this day. But I know I made the right decision. For me, and for my family.  No one else really knows what I have been through or feelings that I can still experience.

I started running when my youngest was 6 months, initially on my own. Then I joined a local running club. Although my local running club is a fab club, I found it a bit too intense for me. I couldn’t really talk about kids and the challenges they sometimes bring. I needed more.

So, after a few years running I decided to try and create a space for women to come together to run/jog/walk and talk…. I qualified to become a Run Leader in October 2017.

I then started two 0-5k groups in my local area, a week after I qualified. I was still relatively new to running (2-3 years running experience), but I knew after the first few sessions of leading a female only running group… this was ME!

I absolutely loved the buzz of it, helping women come together no matter what their running experience, shape, size, age, ability…. I wanted to help them believe that they could run, be active, and enjoy it at the same time. I loved hearing women talking about themselves, creating friendships, sharing their life with complete strangers… I can’t really explain the feeling it gave me and still gives me now…. I suppose its JOY, pure JOY!!

I’ve always wanted to run, I started running a little bit here and there whilst studying at university, but I never had the confidence to take it further. I remember when I lived in Coventry for a year, I decided to do a PhD at Warwick University – but quit after a few months, (I should have known then that a Career in a Lab just wasn’t for me, but my determined side told me to stick with it a bit longer). Me and my partner lived in a house just in front of a rugby pitch, and every week a local running group would meet up. I’d sit in my house peering out thinking, I want to do that! Maybe one day I will, just today isn’t the day!

So here I am, 15 years later…. I now call myself a RUNNER! After nearly 8 years of running. Although it still makes me cringe, belief in myself is a hard thing to get my head round.

I am proud to be a Run Leader and founder of a female only running group, called ‘Run Mums’. Based in Otley, the group has been going for 4 and a half years now. In that time, I’ve helped numerous women reach their goals. Whether it was to run 5k, 10k, or to get fitter, healthier, and more confident, the list goes on.

I’m proud of all the women who have run, and still run with Run Mums. Alongside these running goals, friendships have also been created. The group provides a place to come and talk about daily stresses, as well as some time for yourself. Having the ability to reflect on the day, to clear your head, and make some positive memories, a life where running is part of it.

Running is amazing.

Running with other women is wondrous.

Run Mums will continue to grow and develop, this is just the start of what is going to be a fantastic female running community for Otley and the surrounding areas.



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