Motherhood, the MS Society and the Marathon – jogging and juggling with Michelle Mitchell

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Monday, 25 April 2016 is a date I’ve circled over and over in my diary. It’s the start of MS Week and, as the CEO of the MS Society, one of the most important weeks of the year for me and everyone else in the multiple sclerosis community. It’s a chance to spread awareness, recognise those who made significant contributions at the MS Awards and to raise funds to beat MS. But that’s not why it’s circled. It’s circled because, for the first time in 2016, I can wake up and not worry about training for the London Marathon. I’ll be sore and tired, but it’ll worth it because I’ll have pushed myself for 26 miles, powered by the hundreds of thousands of people across the UK affected by MS. A familiar feeling I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve woken with a jolt in the middle of the night over the past few months. The last time this happened I was heavily pregnant, because I was hungry and eating for two. Training for the marathon gives me the exact same feeling. Sitting in the kitchen at 3am filling up a banana, a piece of toast and glass of milk has become somewhat of a habit. Most days I feel like I’ve eaten enough food to feed my entire family, but it’s all part of the experience. A challenging juggling act Being CEO of the MS Society requires lots of energy and dedication. I wake up and the second thing I think about after having fed my two kids (and before the Marathon) is the income we have to raise to make a positive change for people with MS. It doesn’t leave me. I feel privileged to serve at this level wholeheartedly. Eating well, sleeping well and making time for family and friends are all so important to make sure I’m in top condition. Finding time to train amongst busy work and school schedules is as much of a challenge as the 26 miles. Train, hail or shine I have to train when I get the chance, because I often don’t know when the next chance will be. This means taking to the streets of Balham, Clapham and Battersea rain, hail or shine. The exciting thing is I’m rarely the only one out there during the inclement weather. The worst part of the training isn’t the sore muscles or the chafing or the post-run nausea, it’s the jelly beans. I can’t stand them, but they are perfect running fuel given their size and sugar content. Please let me know if you have any better suggestions! The “other” challenge After challenging myself to run the marathon, I set myself another target. I wanted to raise £6,000 to support MS research. I’m really humbled by all of the support and generous donations I’ve received so far .I’ve smashed my goal and am currently around the £8,000 mark. I’ll keep fundraising though, because every penny is vital in our fight against MS. My inspiration In my role as CEO of the MS Society, I have the great fortune to meet many wonderful people who are working every day to conquer MS, despite the devastating effect it can have on their lives and on those they love. They inspire me to keep going during my training runs, just as they will during the race. I’m looking forward to seeing plenty of orange-clad MS Society volunteers at our cheering points along the route, but in my head the road will be lined with everyone affected by MS. The final mile… Everyone I’ve spoken to has said the final mile is the toughest (so the first 25 should be easy), and I’m about to reach the final mile of my journey to the marathon. This is when I’ll have dig deepest on the day and draw on all my inspiration. I can’t wait to finish training, because I can’t wait to cross the finish line. I’ve not set a finishing target, I just want to cross the line and see my teammates, our volunteers and my family waiting for me. Michelle Mitchell has been CEO of the MS Society since 2013 and received an OBE for her services to the charity sector earlier this year. You can sponsor Michelle’s Marathon effort on her JustGiving page and follow her on Twitter. Michelle Mitchell in front of Parliament

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