ULTRA Running can sound a bit daunting, but Amy tells us her amazing story to inspire us all to give it ago …

“I’m still a newbie to the big world of running. Only this year I swapped running late for everything … to just running! I used to try an annual run as part of my ‘new year – new me’ mantra, which never was successful …

Following wedge resection lung surgery, my plans for a gap year in Asia were put on hold. I thought running was the perfect two finger salute to cancer taking one of our easiest bodily functions … breathing.

Before I could run, I needed to walk but before I could walk, I needed to learn how to breathe again with a reduced lung capacity.

So, I started with a 1 km lap around my neighbourhood with my dog which grew into 1 mile runs and then, as I became more confident, I’d combine the two. I signed up for a 5K fun run as a motivator to keep me going. After completing it and realising my lungs and I were just about in one piece, I decided to sign up to the Swansea Half Marathon to help Llanelli Mind with their fundraising. However, that stemmed into a challenge – to run 23 running events to mark my 23rd birthday – being my strongest and healthiest to date. Then as 2017 is Llanelli Mind’s 30th year I thought, let’s do 30!

It’s ironic how during school, I was known as the anti-runner. I made more of an effort to avoid any form of physical exercise than participating! There’s the obvious benefits to improved appearance, but that’s not important to me whatsoever.

Running has become a sanctuary for me.

Those hours spent on the road, trails and hills are the few times where I get to put all of my stresses, worries and anxieties aside and just focus on me. I sleep better, I perform better, I feel a lot more content. My anxiety is managed in a much more productive manner thanks to lacing up my shoes. I’ve never regretted a single run and feel so much more stronger and proud of myself afterwards!

I have always wanted to take part in a fundraising challenge and being the ‘all or nothing’ type of girl, I was adamant that being 23 would be my best year yet. I’ve always been passionate about mental health. I’ve lost two friends to suicide in the past two years, both in their early 20s, and it breaks my heart knowing that they felt there was nothing else left for them and they couldn’t get better. I chose Llanelli Mind to help them raise more awareness in my hometown.

After these races and an ultra-walking event, I thought it was time to try an ultra-running event.

I always like to test my limits and constantly challenge myself.

I’ve signed up to the St Illtyd’s Ultra Trail event – the full 100km. 16-year-old me would be sick at the thought but running has taught me a lot more than I could ever imagined.

It’s a hobby, a coping mechanism, an escape – that running high is one of the best feelings of all time.