In the (discomfort) zone
“I’m not a runner”, says Judi Bonham, tackling her first marathon.
Promoted to the role of Managing Partner at WSP Solicitors in 2016, Judi enjoys a challenge at work and in her (often scarce) downtime.
“I’ve always done something to keep myself active,” explains Judi, “but it was the idea of participating in the London Marathon that lured me into running, and has ignited an enjoyment in it.
“It’s good to have a challenge outside of work and in the last couple of years I haven’t really had one. I find it really motivates me.”
On 23 April, Judi will join around 40,000 runners in the 26.2 mile Virgin Money London Marathon. She’ll be raising money for a little known charity, Action for Pre-Eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia (a form of high blood pressure which can cause very serious complications) affects up to one in ten first pregnancies. In its most extreme cases, it leads to the death of around 1,000 babies and three women each year in the UK. The charity aims to raise awareness, improve care and ease suffering caused by this potentially devastating condition.
“This just came across my radar because someone I know was involved in the charity and I’ve had friends who’ve suffered from pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. I heard they were looking for people to run for them and it feels good to support a smaller charity that’s less well known.
“It’s been interesting how people open up to you when you’re doing something like this. We’ve chatted about their experiences – it’s something I hadn’t anticipated.
“I’m receiving lots of great support fundraising, with WSP colleagues getting involved in bake sales and all sorts. They listen patiently to me too, even though I must be a bore about the grueling side of training.
“Sometimes I run on my own, but it’s lovely when others join me too, maybe running a 10-mile stretch alongside just to provide some company and support.
“I only started running gently in September, before moving into a full training programme. I discovered I have a weak ankle, which makes it uncomfortable when I run. But I persevere. Some runs are delightful, others are really hard; it has its ups and downs.”
The parallels with business life are not lost on Judi. “You’ve got the plan all worked out, but have to adapt it as you go. Time’s a juggle, so I swap around distances and routes to fit with my schedule.
“This challenge is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, since stepping up to be Managing Partner. First time giving a speech to a large audience. First Powerpoint presentation. Constantly juggling time between client work and managing the business.
“Being stretched is good. I’m ready for it. You’ve just got to go for it.”
This article first appeared in the QuoLux Leading magazine, Issue 1, April 2017