When I was nine, I was struck with a mystery illness It was eventually diagnosed as septic arthritis in my right knee. It spread throughout my body and left me wheelchair-bound for 18 months. Although it left a permanent weakness in my knee, in my teens I made up for it by doing every sport imaginable, including lots of athletics, netball and hockey.
My illness really made me appreciate being active When I went to London’s Royal College of Music it was fantastic, but there wasn’t much competitive sport. So I got into the gym, cross-training and began running more. Going out for a run was a great contrast to the intensity of studying.
My marathon debut was in Venice in 2010 It was an amazing experience, despite being a wet, foggy day. There were also lots of bridges across the canals, which got a bit wearing after 26.2 miles. But when I finished, it was among my proudest achievements.
Singing and running makes me nervous When I sing, I might become nervous before I begin, and it’s the same with my running. Once I get going, any nerves vanish and I feel great. I ran the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2012 and loved it. The sense of community among the crowd and runners was brilliant. When I perform in a big venue, I use the crowd to lift my performance and I did the same in the race.
I need a cause to keep me focused Last year, I suffered a torn meniscus in my knee, which needed surgery, so I missed last year’s VLM. My disappointment means I’m even more eager to run it this year and I’m thrilled to run for the charity Nordoff Robbins, which means a lot to me.
My singing and my running benefit from each other At the end of the day, my voice is controlled by muscles, so anything to make me fitter and stay healthier helps. My lungs being strong are crucial to both. On stage, I have to be very active, so being fit helps me get around without getting breathless.
Nothing will stop me from running I’ll go running anytime – even late at night or the early hours of the morning if it means squeezing a run in. Rain doesn’t bother me either, as running through a heavy storm can feel so life-affirming.
I have a secret weapon running track I’ve a very eclectic taste, so it’s great to run along to, say, The Prodigy when I’ve been learning a complicated arrangement of an Italian opera I’m about to perform. I find running is a great time to learn new lyrics and go through them in my head.
If you can make time to run, you’ll reap rewards in all sorts of ways It gives me a wonderful escape from the everyday pressures we all have. I love how I can leave work worries or whatever behind and get fitter at the same time.
Laura supports Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity that transforms the lives of vulnerable children and adults across the UK. To find out more, visit www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk
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