The evolution of my running journey

Karen Derbyshire

The evolution of my running journey – Karen Derbyshire,

My running journey has definitely evolved, from being overweight and finding a new love of running, to then getting very ill, before becoming a parent and having to change my style again.

But that’s the beauty of running – you can make it work, whatever life is throwing your way.

The beginning

In my early 20s, I was always active, but I admit to being overweight. I did a few ‘fun runs’, such as 5ks dressed as Santa, but never really ran.

I found a gym that was very local to me when I moved to a new flat, and slowly began to discover running. I loved to snowboard, so found it was a great way to help me get stronger in the mountains – be lighter on my board, more stamina and be more able to enjoy the mountain air without being so out of breath.

Through building up my training, I lost around 6 stone, and found a passion for running – I could go to the gym and run to work, saving me bus money and helping to clear my head in the mornings. I’d start the day feeling AWESOME!

I then joined a local running group, which took longer to get to than the actual run took, but I enjoyed it and it helped push me a bit further.

The middle

Unfortunately, I became ill and ended up having multiple surgeries on various organs, but after a few years, I managed to build up my love of running again – it was my way of escaping. Yes, it was frustrating to not be able to do it between surgeries, but I listened to the doctors and came back slowly!

I remember just a few days after surgery, doing a charity 5k in London with my brother and starting off strongly, but then being crippled over part way round – my brother stuck with me along the way, and we crossed the line together – that meant a lot.

Park runs, obstacle races and then 10ks became enjoyable for me. I moved to Leicester and kept running – it was just for fun and because I found it really helped me clear my head. I also started to love doing obstacle runs with friends – no pressure, just a fun challenge!

Having my daughter meant things changed, and I couldn’t visit the gym due to time/money, so I began to run even more, with little local runs around the block when I could, as a short 5k was less than half an hour of exercise, when it would take that long just to get to a gym and onto a machine.

Thanks to some amazing friends and family to support, I’ve still managed to do some obstacle challenge runs, an amateur triathlon and completed the Peak District challenge (in about 13 hours!). However Lily has always been my priority, so if I couldn’t get out for a run, then I learned to not compare myself to others and accepted that was OK – that was a big thing to accept for me.

It’s not the end…

In January 2020, I had surgery to repair several ligaments in my foot. Two weeks after the cast came off, Covid hit and we all went into lockdown. Physio was cancelled, so without the planned post-surgery rehab I started walking again. Each morning I’d walk from 6am and try to build up the strength in my ankle.

I tried short runs after around 6 months, but realised running wasn’t as easy as before, and I needed to add in strength exercises.

Now, 15 months after surgery, I’m making the most of still working from home by doing the school run on foot. I started walking while my daughter scooted, and now I run with her while she scoots. This short 15 minute run every morning has given me back the love of running that I was starting to feel I was losing, and reminded me why I do it; you don’t need to be an athlete to feel the benefits of running – it leaves you feeling great, more positive and more ready to tackle the day.

My running journey may be evolving, but it is definitely not the end and one day I hope to do those longer distances again. I may have never been ‘good’ at running, but I enjoy it, and for me that’s what matters.



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