Catching the "running bug"...

Regular readers of my column will know I recently completed the London Marathon and if you have taken part yourself, you’ll understand what I mean when I say I’ve caught the “running bug”.

I started out my training last year with the aim of just finishing the 26.2-mile route while raising money for my chosen charity Havens Hospices. But, the more I trained the more I grew to love running - starting from couch to 5k, taking part in Park Runs at Gunners Park, running with Flyers Southend all while building up the miles.

By the time race day arrived, I was hoping for a time of about 4 hours 45 minutes. The temperature was good, and I managed 4 hours 36 minutes. The support I received personally was incredible and I was so proud to have run for Havens who do amazing work caring for children and adults in their final days. Thanks to the generosity of friends, family and constituents, I managed to raise over £3,400, putting Team Havens on track to hit £200,000 – the total raised by 103 runners.

After taking a few days off for recovery, I was itching to take on my next challenge. Just over two weeks ago, I donned a 35lb rucksack and joined 1,000 others to replicate the Parachute Regiment’s toughest fitness test. The tough 10-mile Essex course is what new recruits hoping to successfully join The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces must complete. I think it’s safe to assume this “running bug” will be around me for sometime.

There are so many benefits to staying active, both physically and mentally – and I’ve managed to solve many a problem while out on a run. In Southend, we are lucky to have several running groups for varying levels of ability around the town. If you’re able to, why not get involved with one? If you’d like to be put in touch with your local group, you can email me via james@jamesduddridge.com.

One day I hope Southend may even host its very own marathon.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.