The TV and radio presenter, 47, on why the NYC Marathon holds a mix of emotions for her
At school I was too small to be good at team sports. Running appealed to me because it was just me on my own.
It was when I was at university that I really discovered running. I got a scholarship to study at Rhode Island in the States. That was more than 20 years ago, when the running boom hadn’t really kicked in there, so they were gobsmacked at the sight of this little, pale English girl running around the campus.
I really enjoyed running for years after that. I liked the thinking time it gave me – I always ran to clear my head.
I’m not particularly competitive when it comes to sport. Running means I can set my own benchmarks, and reach the goals I set on my own terms.
In 2001 I signed up to do New York, my first marathon. It was less than two months after 9/11, and the city was still in shock. During the run the police and fire crews were clapping us and we were clapping them back. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
Just after I crossed the finish line at New York I collapsed and was rushed to hospital. I’d been drinking lots at every water station, copying my 13st male running partner. It meant I’d taken in
far too much and was overhydrated.
Apparently I started burbling – the paramedics thought I was Eastern European. I blacked out and the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital the next day. It was frightening and put me off running for years.
Eight years later, while presenting BBC Breakfast, my copresenter Bill Turnbull talked me into doing a 10K for Sport Relief. I finished without keeling over, and thought it was a shame my bad experience had put me off for so long.
My friend and BBC colleague Sophie Raworth had been nagging me for ages to get back into running. So we both signed up for this year’s New York City Marathon. I’ll be running for Macmillan Cancer Support, whose nurses cared for my mum when she had terminal cancer.
It’s funny how going for a run can vary so dramatically. Some days I feel fantastic and others I feel like I’m running through treacle.
The best way to make myself run is to put my kit on as soon as I get up. Even if I don’t intend to run until my youngest is at playschool, I know that once I’m in my gear, I won’t have an excuse not to.
When you have two kids asking for another story, it’s hard. But as soon as I’m out, I know that’s half the battle over.
Sian Williams runs for Macmillan Cancer Support (macmillan.org.uk). To donate, go to justgiving.com/account/ your-pages/sian-williams16