When she's not working as a planning project officer for South Cambridgeshire District Council Clare Howe is a keen runner. She has also played for Luton Town Ladies football club, helped them win several trophies and reach the quarter finals of the National Cup, but then found the challenges of an individual sport trumped those of a team sport.
How did you get into football?
At university I continued to play football and was nominated captain in my final year where we went on to win a cup. However, I recently swapped my football boots for running trainers. My grandfather played for Wycombe Wanderers football club, but also ran competitively; likewise my father competed in marathons across the country, so it's in my genes to run.
What does it involve?
I do 10km runs and half marathons where I raise money for Macmillan Cancer - I took up running for charity after a family member passed away from cancer. The experience taught me the importance of Macmillan nurses; running was a way to show gratitude during a time of hardship.
Why do you do it?
I enjoy the challenge of beating my new personal best. I also enjoy running for charity as I feel I am helping others by doing something valuable. It allows helps me escape reality in a way that allows me to feel the smallest of details, from the change of terrain beneath my feet and the burn in my legs from an exhausting hill to the ice cold winter causing my fingers to slowly lose feeling.
What’s the toughest thing about it?
Motivation can be tough and sometimes when I drive home from work I'm conjuring up excuses not to run in advance: I’m tired, I’ve not rested enough, I did a really long run yesterday, my hamstring is ever so tight. Regardless, I always end up running when I return home.
What’s the most rewarding thing about it?
Freedom. If I push on, run harder, away from the structure of my life, I begin to feel elated, detached yet at the same time connected to myself.
Are there any similarities between your day job and running and football?
In the past few months I have become aware of the similar skills required in running, football and planning. The emphasis upon being part of a team is clear but sport, like planning, is about individual performance, remaining focused in order to overcome hurdle. Developing my skills as a planner and sportswoman, meanwhile ensures I learn and develop and improve next time.
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