When 56-year-old Sarah Louise from Bolsover was diagnosed with Arthritis and Osteoporosis she was determined to stay active for both her physical and mental health.
After originally discovering running in her late 30s to help more specifically with her mental health, a change in life and work circumstances had meant it had fallen by the wayside but thanks to joining Jog Derbyshire group Castle Striders last year she’s rediscovered the benefits in more ways than one.
“I hate it, but I love it, but I hate it”, Sarah laughs as we talk about her journey, “but joining Castle Striders has given me a new enthusiasm for running.”
Dealing with the diagnosis
Sarah was diagnosed with her health conditions six years ago, shortly after turning 50.
She explains: “It was arthritis first then very quickly after that osteoporosis. I got angry at life and went to the gym. Because I thought, I’m not having it. I don’t think I was even being positive about it, I was being really angry.”
When Sarah was seconded away for work, meaning she lost access to the gym for a large period of the week, she turned back to running.
She said: “I couldn’t access the gym for three or four days a week and got a bit antsy because I wasn’t exercising. Took some trainers with me and started jogging again.
“And I think the first time I struggled to do a mile and I had to walk bits in between and then I got to do a mile and then I got to do a bit more and a bit more. And just built it up because that was the only exercise I could do.”
Finding a group to run with
Having seen Castle Striders out on their runs around her local area, but unable to join them due to work commitments, a change in employment meant she was finally able to give it a go.
She said: “The camaraderie with the group leads you on. It’s the most encouraging, supportive group of people.
“Many years ago I had this dream that one day in my life I could run a half marathon but I never ever thought that I could. And I started going out with Striders. Kind of got egged on to do one and did the Tissington half marathon last year so that was a tick off my bucket list.
“Joining Castle Striders has also helped me make friends locally. I’ve never really made friends locally or joined in the community locally because it’s always been work, horse, dogs. So they’ve extended my social life and friendship group because there are people I’ve got a shared interest with.”
Increasing bone density
As part of her osteoporosis diagnosis, Sarah attends two-yearly scans, unearthing surprising results which were attributed to her running.
She said: “This summer when I had my next routine bone scan, the GP said, ‘I’m absolutely baffled. Your bone density has actually increased. This shouldn’t happen at your age.’ I’d not changed diet or anything else, it was literally just the running.
“And she said, ‘the second thing is. Your legs and your lower spine have stayed the same but your hips are so much more dense now than they were and they’re denser than your legs and spine.’
“I asked, would running do that and she said yes absolutely and she said she was quite excited because she’d never seen the measurements in anyone that hadn’t run before and had started and was having two yearly scans to measure the difference it had made.”
To find out more about Castle Striders, visit their web page here