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Running enthusiast pushes through cancer treatment to fulfil his dream

Adam Ward is training to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in October after being diagnosed with terminal colon cancer - he enjoys training with partner and coach, Vici, as it takes his mind off his treatment

Adam Ward is training to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in October after being diagnosed with terminal colon cancer - he enjoys training with partner and coach, Vici, as it takes his mind off his treatment

Adam Ward is training to fulfil his dream of running the Virgin Money London Marathon after receiving a cancer diagnosis during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 41-year-old Senior Footwear Developer from Woodville, in South Derbyshire, is running to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support – the event’s official 2021 charity partner – after he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in August 2020 when he was given just two years to live. Adam and his partner, Vici, have run together for years and have just started their training programme, ahead of the return of the October event.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to run the London Marathon and with my cancer being terminal, it’s now or, in a way, it could be never.

“Before my diagnosis I was planning to run the Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support and I remember after a restless night I woke up and knew I needed a goal to work towards after my treatment, so my partner and I decided we’d still run the marathon together.

“My determination to run as part of Team Macmillan has grown even more since I found out I have cancer myself, due to the incredible support the charity provides. Even though I’m ill, I’m feeling OK, so the more that I can give back while I can, the more I will do.”

Adam is keen to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Steve, who has completed the London Marathon several times, and he’s found that running provides not just an emotional outlet but is also a great distraction from his treatment.

New research from Virgin Money Giving, official London Marathon fundraising partner, suggests that more than a third of the UK population have found that exercise has helped with their overall mental health during lockdown – notably stress and anxiety.

Adam added: “Vici and I have such a huge passion for running and have run together for years. It definitely helps to train together – I find it a huge support for her to be training alongside me, to help keep me going and push me along. I now call her ‘coach’ – training together is just what I’ve needed.

“Training for this year’s marathon has given me a lot of focus and taken my mind off treatment. I’ve really found running helps settle my mind when I’m a bit stressed or worried. I used to be pretty good at running, but over the last year or so, having cancer and going through chemo has aged me and my body can’t do what it used to do. However, I do see that as part of the challenge! We will be running, walking and crawling to that finish line in October, whatever it takes.”

Dr Josephine Perry, a chartered psychologist specialising in sport, believes that running in particular is a great way to open up and provide a comfortable environment for difficult conversations, either about how you are feeling or a concern that might need addressing.

She said: “It is always hard to know when to time a courageous conversation with someone we are close to, but a run can be a great place for it. It also gives us an opportunity to just listen to each other, this can help us clear the air and get a different perspective on any little niggles we have. And if it does start to feel like the chat is getting too tricky, running is a perfect excuse to move the subject on to something easier.

“Purposefully finding someone to train with can be really beneficial. Runners with a training partner have been found in research to have better adherence to training (as it makes training more enjoyable and increases accountability), improved technical skills and enjoy training more. It also boosts confidence as training with others provides loads of opportunities to give praise and to receive it.”

To help people across the UK, Virgin Money Giving has launched its Feel Good Giving campaign so fundraisers can share positive stories, ideas and tips about fundraising goals, including taking part in the 41st London Marathon in October.

If you’re currently prepping for the Virgin Money London Marathon, or working towards any other training goal, Josephine and Virgin Money Giving have put together top tips for creating the perfect training relationship:

  1. Make sure you can meet up regularly – running clubs, friendship groups or your partner is a great first port of call
  2. Pick someone you feel really comfortable with – they will see you at your best and at your snottiest and sweatiest!
  3. Find a mentor - If you can pick someone more experienced than you it will help you push yourself a little bit more, plus you can pick their brains about training strategies and treat them like a mentor.
  4. Know your personality traits and consider them - If you are an early riser who likes exercising in the morning, find someone who does too and won’t turn up late, delay your day or cancel.
  5. Don’t pick a frenemy - If you are going to spend significant amounts of time together, it’s important that you get on and enjoy each other’s company.

How can I support Adam?

Adam is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support to help the charity continue to do whatever it takes to be there for everyone living with cancer, from day one of their diagnosis.

Donate to Adam's fundraising page

How can I support others?

Support a friend or charityStart your own fundraising page

Referenced Data Sources

1. Independent study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Virgin Monday Giving, surveying 2004 UK participants across a nationally representative sample during the period of 17/05/2021 - 19/05/2021

Key research findings include:

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