Michelle Hardwick has a newfound passion for running. The actress, from Wakefield, Yorkshire, played hospital receptionist Lizzie Hopkirk in The Royal, before landing her dream job on Emmerdale. By the time you read this, she will have completed the Run For All Leeds 10K on 12 July. She talks about the joys of being a new runner…
Tell us about your running background.
My history with running really only started in April this year. I’ve done Race for Life 5Ks before, but walked the majority of them with my mum or friends. I’d never ever done running until I signed up for the Leeds 10K. I did the Great Manchester Cycle two years ago (26 miles) and I’ve also done the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, but I’ve never ever done a running challenge before.
How many times a week are you currently running?
At the moment my cousin and I are training twice a week. The furthest we’ve done without stopping has been 9.6K and we did it in 59 minutes.
How did you find running when you first started?
Initially I couldn’t run to the bottom of the street or to the local supermarket without being out of breath or without stopping! I downloaded the Couch To 10K app and just built it up very steadily. I scrapped the app within a few weeks as I felt I could just run further on my own.
How are you finding running now?
It just feels so amazing when you’re out there. It’s just about getting through that first mile. That first mile is always a killer. I’m like: “I can’t do this” and there’s all sorts of negative thoughts going through your head but once you get past that first mile you feel like you could go on forever.
What made you sign up for the Run For All Leeds 10K?
My cousin Joanne and I are running for the MS Society, because my aunty unfortunately has this awful disease. She was diagnosed in her thirties and is now in her sixties and housebound. More than 100,000 people are living with MS in the UK and most people are diagnosed in their twenties and thirties. “Once you get past that first mile you feel like you could go on forever.”
What made you choose that particular race?
Running is the only challenge I’ve not yet done. At work my good friend Tony Audenshaw (who plays Bob Hope in Emmerdale) does the London Marathon every year and he put me in touch with the Leeds 10K people and said they’d be interested to hear about me, especially as I’ve gone from zero to running 10K.
Where have you been doing most of your training?
To start with, I did a bit off-road with my little dog but he’s only a year and a half and we weren’t getting anywhere. He stops and sniffs everything and has no interest in running with me really! I’m now doing road running and I plan the route. Touch wood, so far my knees are all right. It’s really enjoyable and I never thought in a million years I’d ever say that about running.
What are your running goals likely to be beyond your 10K?
I’m definitely going to keep my running up and hopefully, it may be the Great North Run next. In three years time, a marathon may be something that I would consider.
What music do you run with?
The same album each time. The Greatest Hits of the Eighties. I’m listening to Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ every time. I love it!
Do you ever rehearse lines in your head when you run?
Before I started listening to music I would do a little block of where I live, which is about a mile, and I would go through my lines in my head. I know I was mouthing words and didn’t have headphones in, so people must have thought I was talking to myself !
As a recent running convert, what advice would you have for new runners?
You have got to want to do it and not be pushed into it. I never in a million years thought I could do it.