I’m a runner: Denise Welch

The actor and TV personality, 57, thinks she may finally have discovered the runner’s high.


by Adrian Monti
Photo by Ben Knight

I was the antithesis of the sporty girl when I was at school. I was the one who didn’t want to go out into the cold in gym kit, so I would get detention instead.

For most of my life I’ve been slim and not worried about doing exercise. The fittest I’d been was when I was 28 and in a play called Trafford Tanzi, about female wrestlers – I did a two-hour workout every day.

Several years ago I was asked by a charity to do the Great Manchester Run. At first I guffawed with laughter, as I haven’t got a competitive sporting streak in my body. But after the initial shock, I thought, ‘Why not?’

I do my training in Cheshire, where I live. A friend and personal fitness coach, Sal Russ, got me in shape for the 10K race in 2006. I’d never run that far until race day.

The first time I ran Manchester I was in floods of tears at the finishing line. When people started yelling ‘Come on, Denise!’ at me I had to keep going.

I do all I can for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Those I meet as a trust supporter inspire me. I might not find running easy, but their battles with cancer are much harder.

This year I didn’t run Manchester because I injured myself a few days before. I’ve got osteoarthritis in my knee; in a play called, ironically, The Ancient Secret of Youth and the Five Tibetans I felt it go when I had to bend backwards.

I’ve suffered from depression for more than 26 years. I don’t believe it can be cured simply by putting your trainers on and running, but once you feel better, running can definitely help you stay well.

I enjoy running with my husband, Lincoln. My 14-year-old son, Louis, comes with us, but he keeps us away from the main roads so that his mates don’t see us.

While running, I’ve come up with some great ideas for my first novel, If They Could See Me Now. I can get lost in my own thoughts and relax. Or I use the time to learn my lines.

I’ve an addictive personality for everything that’s usually bad in life. In the past I’ve never found this buzz runners talk about. It’s only in the last few years I’m able to truthfully say I enjoy the running I do.

I simply enjoy running at my own pace. I don’t chase times – I just want to get around. I feel that at 57 if I can run, then any woman like me can, too.

My favourite…

Hero: Being a fellow Geordie, it has to be Brendan Foster, who I’ve known for years. He introduced me to Haile Gebrselassie recently, who was lovely.

Music: Outside I prefer the sounds of nature. But if I’m on the treadmill, I’ll play Motown. I also love the group The 1975, which my son Matthew is the lead singer in.

Treat: I’ve given up alcohol and smoking, and lost two stone by eating well and exercising, but if I feel I deserve a treat after a run, I might have a slice of cheesecake.


Denise supports the Teenage Cancer Trust, which provides specialist teenage units at NHS hospitals. If you would like to support the charity, visit the Teenage Cancer Trust website.


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Discuss this article

Good on ya Denise, I'm also 57 and came to running later in life.

My first 5K at 49 and my first 10K and half marathon at 50.

Just like Denise, I plan to stick with it and think if I can, anyone can.


Posted: 02/03/2016 at 12:56

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