Sunday, May 25 was a momentous day for Jennie Bond. Having only just started training, she took part in a London 10k run, with Bupa’s Your First Step Campaign. Research reveals that the majority of people stop running once they hit 50 – but at 63, Jennie wants to show how with the right support you can do it, even if you’ve never run before.
She explains: “Bupa came to me about a month before the race and asked if I’d like to do a 10k run. My first thought was that I’d rather be buried underground with the rats again!” (Jennie famously took on a coffin of rats when she appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004). “I hated running and it made me feel ill. But I cannot resist a challenge. I feel obliged to take on anything thrown at me.”
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but Jennie was determined to succeed. “In my first training session, I managed about 30 steps of actual running then had to walk! I thought that after the race I’d never run again. But to my amazement, my attitude is changing, as well as my physique and my physical ability.”
Jennie understands that not everyone is able to launch into training for a big run. A ‘little-and-often’ approach helped her get started. “Being on telly I like to keep trim and eat healthily, but I’m not an angel, and I do like a glass of white wine on occasion! About a year ago I wanted to do something, so I started with 10 minutes of tummy exercises every morning, to just two tracks of music.” From there she was able to build on her stamina and the change was noticeable. “I started off listening to what I call my ‘quiet music’ – Enya and Lou Reed – but that soon turned into Queen and Elton John! 'I’m Still Standing' feels particularly appropriate.”
As for the running, “I started off trying to look good, bouncing around with lots of extra energy… but now I run like a little old lady, shuffling along, using as little energy as possible – it’s much more efficient!”
As this really was her first step into running, Bupa had a physio on hand to check Jennie’s technique. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was spot-on! However, it’s very important that you get the right kit. “I’m notorious for spending as little as possible on clothes,” says Jennie. “ I started off my training in a pair of dance pants and £12 trainers but I was strongly advised to ‘upgrade’ my footwear, and I honestly felt the difference in the foot support straight away. When you’re older it’s important to take care of your knees and ankles.”
Now Jennie thinks she may have caught the ‘running bug’. “I quite probably will continue running after Sunday – there’s just something about it. You feel utterly relaxed and peaceful afterwards.”
Whether you’re new to exercise, or good at it, it’s the getting involved that Jennie’s keen to support. “I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about how fast I will run the 10k,” she says. “I’m not pretending I’m an elite athlete and I very much doubt I will run the whole way. I’m very unlikely to get an injury in the process as long as I’m sensible – so if I want to run for five minutes then walk for one, I will. Let’s be realistic: I am 63 and I’m not a runner, but I will do it; I will get all the way round. “
Indeed, she is feeling more mentally prepared by the day. And the race will be made easier by the landmarks Jennie will be running past.
“London’s so full of memories for me. Passing St. Paul’s and Buckingham palace will be a strange mix of nostalgia and newness – familiar territory but a totally unfamiliar experience. It might be nice to think that the Queen might lean out of a window somewhere and cheer for me!”
Afterwards, Jennie tweeted: "I DID it! #BUPA10,000. And it was FUN! Never too old!"
So Yours readers who want to take up a running challenge should give it a go? “Absolutely. 60 is the new 40, and as long as you have your health I really do believe that age is just a number. I don’t do a thing about my wrinkles but why not keep my body fit and trim if I can? My maxim is ‘use it or lose it’.”
And feeling fit and healthy from running feels brilliant. “I have noticed the change,” says Jennie. Everyone who has ‘fat clothes’ and ‘thin clothes’ will understand when I tell you that my ‘thin clothes’ are feeling looser!” Well, that’s reason enough for us.
Jennie Bond ran the Bupa 10,000 on 25th May, inspiring people to take on a new challenge as part of Bupa’s Your First Step Campaign. For more information about how Bupa can help you achieve your fitness goals visit www.bupa.co.uk/running