St Albans fitness instructor wants to kick cancer where it hurts!
PUBLISHED: 19:00 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 21:12 07 February 2018
The loss of both her step-parents to cancer has prompted a fitness instructor to kick the disease the only way she knows how - by pushing herself to her physical and mental limits in the 2018 London Marathon.
Vicki Senanayake, 39, might have been teaching exercise for more than a decade, but she has never run a marathon due to the amount of training required and the fear of being injured.
But after the losses of her stepdad John and stepmum Christeen to cancer, she vowed to do something to help fund research to prevent other families suffering the same tragedies, and has pledged £6,000 towards the cause.
“I have loved racing 10Ks, half-marathons and triathlons over the years, but never considered taking part in a full marathon, but as you get older you lose more family and friends through this horrible disease, and I thought I’m just going to do this one crazy thing for Cancer Research.
“I was lucky enough to secure a place in April’s Virgin London Marathon on behalf of the Cancer Research charity, and as this year is my 40th birthday I thought I had to do it now or never.”
She started training before Christmas, running two or three times every week and averaging 10-17 miles, and has given up alcohol and weekend nights out to focus on her challenge.
“It’s becoming very hard mentally and physically.
“I’m used to motivating others and helping clients to reach their own goals but it’s very different when it comes to motivating myself.
“On top of teaching 25-30 sessions a week I’m now trying to find the energy and motivation to run for 2-3 hours on my own on a freezing Sunday morning and this is only going to get longer and harder as the weeks go on.
“This is completely different to what I usually do. I’ve never needed to train specifically for something so hard. I have to do a 16-week training plan, eating, drinking, sleeping. No booze is a massive thing, it’s doubled my fitness!
“It also knocks you for six, so you’ll be running for two or three hours, and you’ll be completely exhausted for the whole day. I’m not doing it for anyone else, this is for me, and that’s weird, because I could just easily turn around and say ‘I’m not going to do it today’, but I have to, and seeing my fundraising page go up and up is the biggest incentive.”
With this week marking the anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Herts Advertiser has been celebrating the achievements of local women, including role models like Vicki.
“I think it would be amazing if I could inspire other women to do a 5K, 10K, or just get their trainers on and run round the block, because 15-20 years ago I couldn’t do that!
“You can turn your life around, you just have to make the right decisions.
“For me it’s more the mental health thing, knowing I’ve achieved something every day.
“Years ago we were too busy supporting the men and making sure they were fed and watered or sitting at home holding the babies. Nowadays you know you can still do those things and do marathons, triathlons, ultra-marathons and various other sporting achievements. Women can multi-task and mentally we know we can do more so we do.
“For a mother, it’s important for your state of mind to battle that self-worth, know that you’re more than just a mum and a wife. You’re not just holding down a job to pay the bills but you can also achieve things for yourself.”
To sponsor Vicki’s marathon efforts in aid of Cancer Research, please visit her fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/vicki-senanayake2 and pledge what you can to help.