Emma Doherty was a keen runner before sustaining a serious brain injury in a road traffic collision.
Emma explains how the aftermath drastically affected her health and her lifestyle, but how parkrun has helped fuel her determination to be better.
In November 2016 I was involved in a serious road traffic collision in which a close work colleague and friend lost her life. Thankfully I survived, but now I have to live with the aftermath of a serious brain injury.
Before the accident, I had run a bit and done a couple of half marathons. I had known about parkrun, but only really ran a couple of times.
After the accident, I didn’t do very much at all and after two years of not moving and “eating my feelings” I had become very overweight and unhappy.
I work with an organisation that helps people with brain injuries and my support worker at the time suggested I start running again, as I always spoke for fondly of the time when I ran. So, I started with a local running club who were doing a couch to 5k programme.
On Saturday 15 December 2018, our group graduated at the Derry City parkrun. Since then, I’ve run or volunteered nearly every week and chipped away at my PB, bringing it down from 35:16 to 26:15, and I’m hoping to get sub 25 before my 50th parkrun!
parkrun has helped me so much. I can’t go back to work yet, and because I’m sensitive to noisy environments, I found myself very isolated. But being part of the parkrun community has helped me meet so many wonderful people. I had felt quite removed from the real world, but parkrun made me feel like I belonged.
parkrun has been the gateway to other races too. In May 2019, four friends and I ran the relay in the Belfast Marathon. By doing so, we raised over £1,000 for local brain injury charities who had helped me with my recovery.
In September 2019, I ran our local half marathon. I was amazed at how many fellow runners, supporters and marshals I knew, all just from going to parkrun every week. Even the girl who gave me my medal said she recognised me from parkrun!
Next year, I plan to take it up a notch and run the Walled City Marathon. It is important for me as before the accident I did half marathons, but I never did a full.
In so many ways I am worse now, financially, socially, professionally and cognitively – but by doing a full marathon in one tiny perhaps insignificant way, I will be better.
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