Anastasia Murphy is a marathoner and general running advocate. We’ve followed her journey via her Instagram account (@MurphyRuns) for a while now so we are delighted she joined us for our latest Q&A to discuss her love for running, how she got started, her training tips and more.
Hey! Please introduce yourself…
Hello! I’m Anastasia, I’m a 25 year old runner from Milton Keynes. In the week I have a busy 9 – 5 office job and I spend my free time usually running, but I definitely balance this with lots of socialising! I did my first run in 2016 but have been continuously running since Autumn 2017. Before my first run, I was the most unlikely runner! I still cannot believe I’ve managed to run a marathon, it will always be my greatest achievement. I’m now training for my 3rd marathon – Manchester in April 2020.
Follow my journey to my next marathon on Instagram @MurphyRuns – I post the good and the bad!
When did your running journey begin and why did you start?
I did my first mile and my first 5k at the end of 2016. I was fresh out of uni and had just moved to near Milton Keynes to start my first *real* post-graduate job. My job is office based and so I spend 5 days per week at a desk. Whilst I enjoy my work, I was determined to not spend my weekdays simply driving to work, sitting at a desk and then coming home. I also wanted to have something in my personal life (i.e. a hobby) that was simply for myself.
So, I headed out for my first ever run. I managed 1 mile in 11”30 minutes and I was SO happy. I just kept running 1 mile and then eventually found a loop that was longer and headed out without a watch or an app. Someone then pointed out to me that the loop was around 5km – I was over the moon! Starting out without a fitness tracker probably helped me, because I couldn’t compare my time or distance to anyone else and instead just went by how I felt after each run.
I wanted to scare myself into having to continue to keep running, so I signed up for a half in the March of 2017. I gave myself 3 months to go from 5k to half marathon and I’ve never looked back. If setting yourself small goals never really works for you, I’d definitely recommend signing up for something that scares you, to force yourself to keep on training!
You are currently training for a marathon, what’s your best training tip?
If it’s your first marathon or your aim is to finish happily, I would definitely say that consistency is the way forward. I notice such a difference when I make sure I am consistent with my running. For me, I know that running 4 days per week keeps me in a good routine, but also mentally makes me feel like I am still ‘in the game’. If you stop-start, you will always feel like you’re starting over again.
If you’re starting out, commit to running say, 3 days per week. If you’re tired or something comes up, just get out for 1 mile rather than skipping the run (unless you’re sick or injured!). Keep in that routine of getting changed and getting outside even if it’s not as far or fast as you like.
Describe the ‘runners high’.
I can’t describe it, you must feel it for yourself! The runners high is a huge rush of endorphins you get once you finish a run and it lasts all day. After a race, it can last for days! It’s a mix of feeling super happy, calm, fit and fearless.
For me, I cannot beat the feeling of running early on a cool, sunny morning and coming home and having a fresh coffee. I have struggled to beat the feeling of a runners high doing anything else. I think it’s because with running, you can see improvements quickly when you first start. You can see and feel yourself getting fitter and you know that it’s 100% from the effort that you’ve put in.
The runners high is also amazing after a race. Miles of people cheering you on, running alongside some of the most inspiring runners who are just like you or perhaps raising money for a good cause and then finishing with a big, shiny medal around your neck.
What have been your best running experiences?
The London Marathon in 2018 – my first marathon but also the hottest on record! The race itself is amazing and the atmosphere is euphoric – the crowd are so supportive. Anyway, it was a dream for me to run the race. Towards the end of the race, I was pretty fed-up. It was 25c, my watch broke whilst running through run-through showers and I felt really sick. Then, a stranger offered me a bright pink doughnut. I grabbed it and suddenly thought ‘I am running the London Marathon whilst eating a doughnut!!!??’ and that moment just stuck with me, plus the doughnut gave me such a boost!
What advice would you give you anyone looking to start running?
Firstly, do not worry about your pace. Don’t worry if you need to walk. Some day’s you will fly through the run and other days it will feel like you’re carrying an elephant, for no real reason at all. Start slow, really slow, and trust that if you are consistent and positive, you will improve over time. Don’t be put off by other runners who are similar to you but really fast. Everyone started where you are about to start! Also – if you run, you are a runner. And, if you only run half a mile, that’s half a mile more than most people ran that day!
There is also a great community of ‘real’ runners on Instagram. Follow a few people and their consistency and determination will inspire you as they’re just like you and me. Also, read ‘Running Like a Girl’ by Alexandra Heminsley who shares her story of non-runner to marathon.
Tell us about the Brooks Run Happy team?
The Brooks Run Happy team is made up of around 50 runners who have a love of running. There’s a real mix of runners in the team – new mums, Ultra runners, casual runners, but we all have one thing in common: Running makes us happy. We’re a team that wants to shout about ‘running happy’ and demonstrate how running should always be there to make you happy no matter how far or fast you like to run.
Brooks is a brand best known for their amazing running trainers but also their ‘Run Happy’ ethos.
Lastly, what impact has exercise had on your life?
I could write an entire book on this, but running has completely changed my life. I NEVER thought I would run 5k, let alone 10k or a whole marathon! It made me realise that actually, nothing is really out of reach in life. You just have to keep trying. Running has made me so much more confident at work because it has given me something that is only for myself and that only I can improve and that actually, is going quite well.
The way I view my body has also changed. I think a lot of 20-something-year-old girls at some point have their body hang-ups. I used to see exercise as something you did to get skinny and lose weight, but now I see my body for the strength and fitness it has. I remember finishing my first 20-mile run and thinking that knowing I can carry my body for that long will always outweigh any feeling of being ‘skinny’.
Thank you, Anastasia!