Jan McLoughlin of the PDSA

PUBLISHED: 12:58 25 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:33 20 February 2013

Jan McLoughlin of the PDSA

Jan McLoughlin of the PDSA

Jan McLoughlin, from Ludlow, is director general for veterinary charity PDSA, which treats the sick and injured pets of people in need

Fit for 2011 and a marathon fundraiser

Jan McLoughlin, from Ludlow, is director general for veterinary charity PDSA, which treats the sick and injured pets of people in need. She recently gave a home to a lively labradoodle called Bobby.
Jan ran her first marathon last year, raising an incredible 18,500 for PDSA. She has really caught the running bug, and has decided to take on the challenge yet again. Jan, who will run the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday, April 17, hopes to complete the race in under five hours, and raise even more money the second time around. This is the story of the challenge that has improved her health and the charitys bank balance

Iran my first ever marathon in London last April, and what an experience it was. Nothing prepares you for the unbelievable atmosphere of joining 36,000 runners on the streets of the capital. Initially, I took up running to get fitter. Id always wondered about running a marathon. I knew it would be a huge commitment, and in the back of my mind I was unsure if I could run 26.2 miles.

But I did it and in a respectable five hours and eight minutes. It was gruelling, but well worth the months of arduous training, early starts, and aches and pains. I must have found it fairly enjoyable because Ive decided to do it all over again.

In these difficult economic times, it is important to lead by example. Taking on a marathon challenge to raise money for PDSA is a great way to inspire our staff, volunteers and supporters to raise funds too.

PDSA receives no funding from HM Government or the National Lottery, but relies entirely on the generosity of the public to finance its vital veterinary work. We have lots of dedicated supporters across the UK, who are passionate about animals and tirelessly fundraise for the cause.
Just before Christmas a group of animal-lovers braved the winter weather to do an abseil dressed as Santa Claus, raising 5,000, and we had a fearless group who were sponsored to walk on fire. Some of our veterinary staff even did a parachute jump in aid of PDSA. Its amazing what people do to raise funds for our charity and were so grateful for their enthusiastic support. In 2010 our marathon team raised 47,000 we hope to beat this figure this year.

This year is particularly important for the charity, as weve launched our biggest fundraising initiative the Pet Hospital Appeal. The recent economic situation means more households are eligible for our charitable support. Nearly 400,000 pets were treated by PDSA in 2010, at a cost of over 52 million. This represents a staggering 50 per cent rise over the last five years. As a result, some older PDSA PetAid hospitals are struggling to meet present-day demands. This has prompted our largest ever appeal to raise 6 million to build and equip three new pet hospitals in Cardiff, Plymouth and Birmingham. These will replace existing sites, boosting capacity and improving the facilities. Were determined to do it, and if my marathon sponsorship can help towards this target, even just a small amount, then Ill be very proud.

Now Im running ten to 15 miles each week, with longer runs at the weekend. Shropshire is a beautiful place to run as its so picturesque. I love jogging around Ludlow itself, as well as the quiet country lanes around Caynham, Tenbury and Little Hereford.

Joining my local running club, The Ludlow Runners, was a great decision. Ive met some truly inspirational people who have given me plenty of sound advice and training tips. Before Christmas I ran in the Birmingham Half Marathon and I plan to do more races before April. Half marathons are a good training distance because you get to practise your race pace, and they get you motivated for the big day.

So, Im on track with my training plan. I think its extremely important to start early because its vital to train your mind, as well as your body. I worked hard for my first marathon, and was still surprised by just how punishing running 26.2 miles was on my body. I twisted my ankle at 16 miles and I tried to run through it, but it was really painful. There was a lot of pressure on my hips and I started to struggle mentally. Just how tough the race is was clear, as some people around me needed oxygen and were lying on stretchers. My training saw me through those final 10 miles and thats why Im taking my training this year very seriously.
Im supplementing my runs with other exercise too, including Nordic walking and fitness training. Core strength and stamina is vital for the gruelling course. But easily the most enjoyable exercise is to take my new dog Bobby on long walks. Not only is he good at road running, he loves our treks across Mortimer Forest and off-road work is good for me too. Its great for burning the calories and training my legs!

I adopted Bobby, a gorgeous labradoodle, four months ago. Hes nearly four years old and a bit of a handful. Sadly, we lost our old dog Mickey last year. Wed had him for 14 years and I really missed having him around, so when I found out about Bobby I jumped at the chance to give him a good home. Hes extremely playful, very energetic and a bit naughty. He has definitely brought a new energy to our home.

These cold winter runs have been tough. Not losing heart if you have a bad day, and maintaining the support of family and friends has helped me through. And of course, my goal of raising money for the three new pet hospitals has kept me motivated.

Running has other benefits too. Leading one of the biggest charities in the country is always demanding, but never dull. PDSA is a fantastic charity to work for, weve just celebrated our 93rd anniversary, and were still going strong. I love my job, but it can be challenging at times. Running has given me so much more energy, and has helped me a great deal in my working life. Going for a run provides good thinking time, helping me to reflect on the days events. Jogging also enables me to de-stress and switch off from work. I really do feel its put some balance back into my working life.

Ive also lost over three stone since taking up running. Although this wasnt my main aim its definitely a bonus and I felt brilliant in my Christmas party outfit. Running really has given me a new lease of life.
I hope my story inspires other people in the county to take up a challenge for charity. Were still looking for runners who have their own ballot place in this years Virgin London Marathon to join our team and help raise vital funds for sick and injured pets. To join, call 01952 204 791 or email marathon@pdsa.org.uk

To donate to our Pet Hospital Appeal, please visit www.pdsa.org.uk/build or call free on 0800 0199 004.

With preparation and putting your heart and soul into something, you can do anything.

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