I’m a runner – Sophie Raworth

I ran a bit at school. I was a 400m runner, then I didn’t run again until I was 36, after I’d had my second child. Brendan Foster asked me if I’d do the Great North Run. I thought it would be a good way to lose baby weight and it was a challenge.

Back then, I could never imagine running a full marathon. Then, in 2010, I was watching the London Marathon and saw Jenni Falconer, the TV presenter, cross the finish line in three and a half hours. She said, “I owe it all to [coaches] Karen Weir and Matt Roberts.” I contacted Karen and signed up to be trained by her. In 2011, I ran my first marathon and haven’t looked back.

I take my trainers with me everywhere. If I go and stay with friends, or to cities abroad, I’ll head out and explore. I don’t really like running on pavement. I like being out in the greenery.

The medal I’m most proud of is the one for the Marathon des Sables (MdS). I’ve never been so frightened and out of my depth than when I signed up for that race. The week before it, I wanted to pull out I was so panicked. To have completed it, and to have done quite well in it, is so satisfying. It was the first time I’ve cried crossing the finish line.

Related: Meet the man running 2000 miles in memory of his son

Out of 1,078 participants at the MdS, only 175 were women. Since I’ve come back I’ve encouraged lots of women to do it, or other multi-day races. It’s amazingly rewarding. The lifestyle is very basic, but I love that simplicity.

Compared with most sports, running is easy to fit in around a job. I can run to or from work, At the weekend, when I do my longer runs, I get up early. I don’t want to be away from the kids too much, so I fit it in around them.

My greatest ever run was last year’s London Marathon. I achieved something I never thought I could: a sub-3.30 time. I trained really hard and to be able to pull it off on the day felt brilliant. The older I get, the faster I get. There are very few sports you can say that about.

If I could go for a run with anyone, it would be Kathrine Switzer. I had a chat with her before this year’s London Marathon. It’s extraordinary to think that when she first Boston [1967], women weren’t allowed to run the marathon. I love the determination she had to do it.

Running friends are food for the soul. It’s that shared enthusiasm for something that gives you so much. Susie Chan [ultrarunner] has become one of my best friends. I would never had done any ultrarunning if I hadn’t met her.

If I could describe myself as a runner in one word it would be ‘happy’. Running makes me so happy. I’m sure it’s partly the endorphins. But I also love the challenge, I love the training and I do love a good medal.