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Granny Tish

by Sarah Booth |


Granny Tish Runs the World! One woman's story of how courage, belief and a grandmother's love overcame the shadows of domestic violence.


AUTHOR Sarah Booth / Published August-26-2018

There was a time when becoming a granny conjured up images of housecoats, terry towelling slippers and hair rollers! Now, as more women achieve the freedom and independence to progress and challenge themselves through all decades of their lives, this stereotype is thankfully disappearing into the dusty pages of 1950’s Good House Keeping! We had the privilege to meet such a modern day woman, who began her running career in her 40’s and is now challenging herself to Run The World. Join us as we speak to Granny Tish, our heroine who has conquered her fears, turned her pain into inspiration and is growing younger with each day that goes by.

Tish, thank you for taking the time to talk to us, especially as you are currently running through Europe! We’ve got lots of questions for you, so let’s start with the obvious one on most people’s minds: why did you make the decision to run around the world?

  I’ve always believed that we are capable of anything, as long as we have belief in ourselves. My life had become comfortable. I was 49, living in Otley, West Yorkshire with my amazing flat-coat retrievers Pluto and Cosmo. I have a good job and my children are all grown up: my eldest daughter Jasmine is 31 and I also have 3 teenage stepchildren Megan, Tyler and Logan.

  I needed something just for me, something to really inspire me. Something that would take me to the next stage of life, something that really seemed impossible. So I decided to Run the World!

 

Is running something that you have always been into?

  I enjoyed cross-country running at school but had my daughter at 18 and was busy juggling motherhood with studying and building my career. I returned to running at 39 when I was married, with 3 young step children and committed to a busy career. The first marathon I entered was the Inca Trail Marathon in 2008 for my 40th.

  However, my life was a bit of a roller coaster with an unhappy marriage, demanding career and family commitments.   After the Inca Trial, I didn’t run consistently, was unhealthy, worked too much, drink and ate too much and started smoking.

It wasn’t until just after the death of my stepfather in January 2016 that I took stock of my life. Losing my stepfather reminded me just how precious life is, and that I owed it to myself and my family to make the best of mine. I signed up there and then for the Great Wall of China Marathon and that was where running started all over again for me. A few months later I quit drinking and smoking and made running part of my every day lifestyle.

 

How do you feel when you run?

  When I was younger, I used to have dreams about being able to fly. I would start running, relax, focus upwards and then glide into the air, running all the while as I rose up and flew above my home, my world. This is how running makes me feel – like I can fly. It’s my meditation and helps me achieve a total mind-body connection.  

 

You’ve done some incredible challenges such as the Marathon de Sables, Inca Trail Marathon, Run To Work, from Schiphol, Netherlands to Essen, Germany saw you running over 230K and now you are continuing that run across Europe. Do you have a particular event that means the most to you?  

  As I am currently on the European leg of my Run the World Challenge, I have to say that the past three weeks have been the most incredible of my life – emotionally, physically and spiritually. The Marathon De Sables was an amazing experience and taught me so much about the human spirit, but this challenge is so much more challenging.

I’ve had to organise every detail, plan, re-plan, then rip it up and start again! I am on my own without any local support. There are daily navigation, logistics, nutrition, hydration (it’s barely been below 35’) challenges to overcome before the actual physical and mental task of running everyday almost 1700k in 6wks, to make up the 2000k across Europe

I’m learning more about myself and what I am capable of daily. There have been huge highs, incredible sunsets along the coast and a huge sense of achievement. The greatest of which has come from the fact that strangers and friends alike, have been inspired to take action and do something positive in their lives. I could want for nothing more.

 

The power of positive thinking

Can you recall a time when you have felt the most challenged?   When you’ve had to summon every ounce of resilience? Can you describe that time and what it was that made you carry on?

  It’s difficult to assess this run yet as I’m mid way and haven’t really had chance to take stock, but there have been many scary moments running on the German motorways, into forests in the pitch black and running out of water miles from anywhere.

One moment when I was running from Netherlands to Germany for Run to Work springs to mind. I hadn’t trained enough on tarmac, as my passion is trail running, and after a few consecutive days on flat tarmac I was getting shin splints. I tried to ignore it and focus on form and enjoying the sun, but the pain in my lower legs started to get to me. I tried going onto grass verges where possible but ended up walking with intermittent running.

  Negative thoughts consumed me as I focussed on my pain, heavy bag, the tarmac and anything else my mind could think of to pull me down. I was despondent, in pain and knew I was barely half way. I took my shoes off in a cafe and my lower shins were swollen and painful. I ate some bread, butter and salt as I read all the messages of support, but I was struggling to turn myself around and had decided I’d probably end up walking most of the way.  

  I then received a video message of support from my grand daughter saying ‘We believe in you Granny’. I laughed out loud, wrote the words I WILL DO IT, and started running, barely stopping until I got to the B&B.

With a newly restored positive mental attitude, I ran singing in the dark, grinning every now and then at how lucky I was to be a Granny.

I then received a video message of support from my grand daughter saying ‘We believe in you Granny’. I laughed out loud, wrote the words I WILL DO IT, and started running, barely stopping until I got to the B&B.

With a newly restored positive mental attitude, I ran singing in the dark, grinning every now and then at how lucky I was to be a Granny.

— Granny Tish

Tai Chi influenced running

When most people head out for a run, they plug themselves in to music. In your blogs you talk about a different style of running based on breathing, yoga and meditation. How did you come across this and what benefits have you discovered?

  Running is I part of my lifestyle rather than me sticking to a training schedule I have to juggle with other things in my life. I try to flow seamlessly between running and work, running and family commitments etc.  

  I discovered Chi Running over 10yrs ago when training for Inca Trail. Chi Running is a type of running influenced by Tai Chi and focuses on alignment, relaxation, breathing and proper body form. After loosening my body with stretches, I always start running very slowly and try to nose breath and keep the connection between my body and mind. I do still occasionally use music, but I’d say it’s about 5-10% of the time now.

  Despite running 50, 60 and sometimes 70+ kilometres a day, I have so far been free of injury and no stiffness or muscle soreness.

'Chi Running is a type of running influenced by Tai Chi and focuses on alignment, relaxation, breathing and proper body form. After loosening my body with stretches, I always start running very slowly and try to nose breath and keep the connection between my body and mind.'

One of your aims with Run The World is to inspire and motivate people to believe in themselves. Why does this mean so much to you?

  From the moment I decided to Run the World I knew I wanted to use it as a platform to speak out about domestic violence – the physical, emotional, sexual and mental abuse that 33% of women worldwide suffer at the hands of their intimate partner. It’s a shocking statistic but means that friends, colleagues and family need help. The victims and survivors don’t always look like victims, you get very good at covering it up and they look just like you and me.

  I was in a physically violent and mentally abusive relationship as a pregnant eighteen year old and for many years, even after I left. One of the reasons I stayed was because of fear of shame, of what my friends, colleagues and family would think of me. I was embarrassed, this sort of thing happened to people in the papers, not people like me. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time and the situation deteriorated so badly that the police and courts had to get involved.

  When someone is abused by their partner in their home, they have no refuge, they have no peace, there is nowhere to escape. They often have no one to confide in and believe it must be their fault and will reflect on them. It takes courage and support to escape and it can take a lifetime for survivors and their families to recover. It’s taken me almost thirty years to feel free and confident enough to be able to say I was a victim of domestic violence publicly, it was not my fault and I have no shame, it does not reflect badly on me.

  I’m Running for Women’s Aid and sharing my story publicly to free myself from the dirty secret. I hope other victims and survivors will realise they have nothing to be ashamed of, that there is a way out, it may not seem like it, but there is. You just have to take the first step and ask for help.

 

Who or what inspires you in life?

  My grand daughter Marley is at the core of my inspiration. When my daughter Jasmine was pregnant, I made a decision to eradicate the negative things in my life and show my daughter, my stepchildren and this soon to be grandchild that there was another way. It took almost eight years to make lasting changes that would change my family history, but her impending birth was my motivation. She motivated me to train and complete the Inca Trail Marathon so that I could make her believe she could achieve anything. That was the starting point. Marley’s impact now goes beyond motivation. She truly inspires me to be the best I can be. I am constantly amazed at her ability to take every opportunity or challenge that crosses her path, she makes me laugh more than ever and fills me with pride and humility all in the same breath. My daughter Jasmine has done an amazing job raising her and I’m so proud of them both.

'My grand daughter Marley is at the core of my inspiration. When my daughter Jasmine was pregnant, I made a decision to eradicate the negative things in my life and show my daughter, my stepchildren and this soon to be grandchild that there was another way. It took almost eight years to make lasting changes that would change my family history, but her impending birth was my motivation. She motivated me to train and complete the Inca Trail Marathon so that I could make her believe she could achieve anything.'

What advice would you give to other women who are contemplating starting their own journey to fitness or taking a step up to their next challenge?

  Believe in yourself but just as importantly surround yourself with a community of people who believe in you. We all help each other to achieve our dreams and in our weak moments it’s your family and friends that will pull you through. Most importantly don’t let others stifle your dreams. If you believe it, you can do it.


And finally, part of doing this run is to raise awareness of issues that are close to your heart. What are the most important messages that you want to send out to the people who are following you?

  My message is about how much we can all influence our futures if we let ourselves be the person we are capable of being and remove our self-destructive tendencies of trying to be something we aren’t.  

  We all have an inner voice and this voice is incredibly powerful, it is what enables us to achieve our dreams and gives us the power to literally change our world and that of others. Conversely it also has the power to destroy our ambitions and hold us back from using our abilities for good, with limiting self-doubt.

  I am constantly reminding myself that the power to achieve my goals comes from my positive inner voice. It’s that power that has kept me going when my mind, body and soul has given up. When I’ve been in pain and can see no way forward, that inner voice has given me the power to keep going until my mind and body realise it is possible. It’s that same inner voice that raises my game each time I achieve a goal, constantly pushing my limits to keep it exciting. It’s what’s has made Run the World a reality rather than an idea.

  Every one of us has the power to change our lives, and if we have the power to change our lives, we can direct it to change the lives of those around us, and the world for the better. No limits!!

  If you would like to follow Granny Tish on her incredible Run the World adventures please visit her blog at www.runtheworld.live or follow her on Instagram @GrannyTish

 

 

Message From Granny Tish

Believe in yourself but just as importantly surround yourself with a community of people who believe in you. We all help each other to achieve our dreams and in our weak moments it’s your family and friends that will pull you through. Most importantly don’t let others stifle your dreams. If you believe it, you can do it.

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