I started running after meeting my boyfriend. Tom and I were about 17 or 18 and he was already a keen runner, so we used to go on runs together.
When I was a drama student in London, I couldn’t afford the gym so I got more into running. I used to do a circuit around Primrose Hill but there was one killer hill that we joked was tougher than the ‘Travelator’ – the steep treadmill from the TV show Gladiators.
Whatever my character Kylie Platt is doing in the show, I can leave all that behind when I go running. I don’t worry about my lines or how I’m going to play a scene once I’m out running, I just let my mind wander.
My first race was a women-only 10K in Belfast. I hated it so much I thought, ‘Never again.’ Then, a month later I was offered a charity place at last year’s London Marathon.
Being asked to run for charity really made me train properly because I didn’t want to let anyone down. It was for Henshaws Society for Blind People, a cause I connected with straight away and I’m now one of the charity’s ambassadors.
Some mornings I would be on the treadmill in the gym before 6am. I would then be in make-up at 7am and filming all day. I realised I had loads more energy for running before work – in the evening I just wanted to flop.
I loved doing the London Marathon but after about 18 miles I started to worry it would all go wrong. I ran with my fellow Coronation Street actor John Michie (who plays Karl Munro) and it was only at mile 23 that I really struggled. I still managed a sprint at the finish and was pleased with my time of 4:42.
It was pure elation when I crossed the line. I felt I’d joined an exclusive club, having run this crazy distance. I’m proud to talk about it; it was a real achievement.
I take my running gear with me everywhere now. When we went to Tenerife on holiday last year I went for a run along the beach every day and explored the area – something I might not have done otherwise.
I’ve been lucky so far and haven’t suffered any injuries. I do a lot of dancing and yoga. I try to get lots of good sleep as that’s so important when you’re pushing your body to the limit.
On the set, the other actors started calling me the Weatherfield Roadrunner or Paula Radcliffe. Whenever my character needed to run along the cobbles in a scene, the team would joke ‘you’ll be good at this one!’
Paula fundraises for Henshaws Society for Blind People. To find out more or to run for the charity, visit henshaws.org.uk