This Woman Went From Being Out Of Breath At Half A Mile To Running Ultras

In 2013, I was 25 years old and inactive. I had recently moved to a new city, and even though I had a gym membership, I wasn’t inspired to go. I didn’t know anyone, and my main hobbies became eating food and drinking alcohol. I was deeply, deeply unhappy, self-conscious, and lacking in confidence.

One day, my now-husband came home from work and told me that his office had challenged him to compete in a local 10K road race. I was surprised—at this point, the only exercise either of us did was going to the gym once a month. It was a big challenge, but he tackled it.

I absolutely loved watching him train. He didn’t have much of a structure—no training plan—and he didn’t see a huge transformation, physically. But he would come home from runs with such a buzz, and I really envied that. On race day, I felt this high amplified. There was so much energy coming from the crowd! I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I watched people cross the finish line, including him, and I was curious—could I run, too?

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I had no plan, but I put on a baggy shirt, some track pants, and a pair of old trainers. Off I went, up the road toward a nearby harbor path.

I was about 20 seconds in when I got a stitch in my side. It was so uncomfortable that I turned around and went back inside, ashamed and embarrassed that I couldn’t even get to the end of the road. I decided running wasn’t for me.

The following week, my husband said he was going out for a run, and it made me realize how much I wanted that to be part of my life. I decided I’d give it another go. I was under no illusions this time—I told myself if I could run from one lamp post to the next, I could have a break and walk for a bit.

This time, I actually managed to run between a few lamp posts before stopping. I probably only covered half a mile, but I felt amazing!

Over the next couple of months, I still felt awful while running, but I was able to push a little bit harder each time. And that in itself felt satisfying, and kept motivating me to try.

Strength . What does it mean to you? . To me, it’s challenging myself to do things that I don’t know if I can do, but I do them anyway. . It’s about wanting something better, something different. . On occasion, it means getting knocked down so that I can build myself back up again. . It’s about seeing the light and fighting for it, no matter how far away it is. . But mostly, it’s about believing in myself, even if others don’t. . My strength comes from being overweight, unhappy, unfit and the victim of bullying. I chose the path of running to help me overcome these things. I am now standing here, a double marathoner (and ultra marathoner) with grand plans to take on even more. I am my own hero today. . Where does your strength come from? . .. …. ????? #londonmarathon #transformationtuesday #strength . . #ASICSFrontRunner #ASICSFrontRunnerUK #IMoveMe #marathontraining #womensrunning #womensrunningcommunity #inspiringwomenrunners #thisgirlcan #thisgirlcanrun #runchat #runlikeagirl #runrunrun #instarunners #igrunners #instarun #instafit #ukrunchat #runplanet #ultratraining #runnersofinstagram #runnergirl #racetotheking #racetothestones #runtoinspire #liverpoolrnr #runrunrun

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A post shared by Martha – ASICS FrontRunner ?? (@martha_runs) on

I started completing local 5-Ks and doing regular spin and strength classes at the gym to train for the race.

I slowly progressed my mileage, and come race day, I finally felt ready. The 10-K was hard, but crossing that finish line and feeling that energy that I had envied months before, finally feeling it for myself—that was everything. The training was worth it.

After my first race, I was still a total fair-weather runner. I didn’t actually attempt another race until about a year later. Six months after that, I ran my first half-marathon. It certainly wasn’t a fast process, and running didn’t come naturally to me. I still struggled through every training cycle.

5km—>100km . The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. . My dream started out wanting to get fit and run around the harbourside without stopping (4km). After a couple of months, I could do that. Of course my dream changed. I thought big. I took on a 10km. Then a year or so later (and a lot of training), a half marathon. . I never thought for a second my dreams of running a full marathon would come true. But they did. And then some. Because I did my first 100km last year and I had the BEST experience. In 4 days time I will be running my second ultra (85km). I have undoubtedly achieved more than I ever thought was capable. . My dreams now are to inspire, motivate and encourage others to believe in themselves too – because there really is no limit to where your dreams can take you. . In the words of my old football coach….take out the “T” because you can, you will and you should ??‍♀️ . (glad to see he taught me something ⚽️?) . .. …. ????? #transformationtuesday #ultramarathon #5km #ultrarunner #trailrunning #racetotheking #moreisinyou #ASICSFrontRunner #ASICSFrontRunnerUK #IMoveMe #ukrunchat

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A post shared by Martha – ASICS FrontRunner ?? (@martha_runs) on

So in 2015, over two years after starting my journey, I signed up with him to establish a structure to my training.

I started running four to five days a week, incorporating a combination of speed work, hills, and long runs. I met new people and pushed myself harder. I kept signing up for more events and races to keep myself on a plan—and this combination of accountability and enjoyment is what kept me going.

I signed up for a marathon, then for a 100-K ultra. Surprisingly, I found the ultra easier—there’s so much pressure associated with running a marathon but hardly any when you get to distances beyond that.

Three ultra marathon medals in 12 months. . Look at what you can achieve with a little confidence, hard work and determination. . Each one of my medals represents a different challenge which was overcome by putting my demons to one side and believing in myself. Each medal means something different to me because each race came with a different set of struggles. . I hope I have been able to show you that you can genuinely achieve anything you put your mind to. Set your heart on something and just bloody go for it ❤️ . .. …. ????? #medalmonday #racebling #100km #ultramarathon #ultrarunner #trailrun #trailrunning #racetothestones #moreisinyou #ASICSFrontRunner #ASICSFrontRunnerUK #IMoveMe #ukrunchat #rtts2018 #rtts

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A post shared by Martha – ASICS FrontRunner ?? (@martha_runs) on

Now, I truly feel like a badass—and I genuinely believe I can do anything. That confidence has spilled over into my career as a lawyer, too.

Now, whether I’m running fast, far, or just with friends, I am totally and utterly addicted to the buzz.

Over the years, I’ve realized running gives you whatever you need in that moment—you can run on your own to clear your head or with friends to socialize. You can take on challenges of any size, and you can measure progress through your times, distances, and outlook.

Whatever your motivation, you feel good at the end. That’s why I love it—because even if you’re having a bad run, you still feel better when you’re finished than when you started.

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It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you go; it’s about what you get out of the miles or kilometers.

Running gives me so much; it’s time to get outside, engage my body and my mind, challenge myself to try new things, meet new people, and visit new places.

Follow Martha’s journey @martha_runs.

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