11 October, 2023

No two fitness journeys are the same, and everyone has a different reason for starting one. For some, it’s about getting fit, whilst for others, it might be about having a fun activity to look forward to at the end of a long day.  

But if you’re looking to get started on your own fitness journey to help reduce your risk of breast cancer, take inspiration from Sabrina’s story. 

For Sabrina Pace-Humphreys, taking up exercise was the life-changing decision that helped her overcome mental health struggles and addiction. Since taking up running in 2009, Sabrina has taken part in international trail running events and created safe spaces for marginalised groups to take up running with her club Black Trail Runners. 

“If you told me 15 or even 10 years ago, that this would be my career now, I never would have believed you. I was in such a dark place. Running was not something that I did. I started running on the advice of my GP because I was suffering from extreme post-natal depression.

“She told me that alongside therapy and medication, I should make time for myself outside of the house. I’d never jogged or run, and I really didn’t want to do it, but I was willing to try anything to get better.

“It started as a 1-mile shuffle/walk, it wasn’t even a run. I was carrying weight after giving birth 12 weeks prior. I had no idea how to breathe correctly or run with good form. But it gave me a space to really zone in on my mind and the feelings in my body. I was in such pain when I finished the run, but it gave me the motivation to go out again. And that was in 2009, from a standing start, never having had any experience with running.

“I coached myself up from running one mile and taking breaks every minute up to a half marathon. In 2016, I decided to make the switch to trail running and took part in the famous Marathon Des Sables. It’s 250km of sand dunes in scorching temperatures in the Sahara Desert. It’s every bit as challenging as it sounds, but I loved it!

“Today, I’m 45 years old, a mother to four children and a grandmother of three, and I can honestly say that this is the happiest and healthiest that I’ve ever felt before. Trail running took me out of environments where I was surrounded by things that triggered my alcoholism and surrounded me with nature and community.

“I no longer approach each day with dread and rely on alcohol to get me through. Every day I wake up I’m excited about the amazing adventures that are ahead of me, and I get my high from the endorphins my body produces when I run.

“Trail running has become my career (qualified run coach and personal trainer), but also a massive part of my life. It has allowed me to access spheres of joy that I never imagined for myself.

“As well as helping me to improve my mental health, trail running has also had incredible physical effects. Trail running has helped me overcome physical issues. But I also believe that it has helped me to prevent them too. Exercising regularly can reduce your chances of developing diseases like cancer and heart problems.

“The beauty of trail running is that I’ll probably be able to do it forever. Unlike road running, trail running is a lot kinder on your joints. The grass and mud absorb impact whilst concrete isn’t as effective in doing that. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s thinking about taking up running. We’re always looking for new members at Black Trail Runners!

“Small steps, lead to big change. No matter how small that step you take forward is, whether it’s a physical step or a mental step, take it because those steps put together can create a life beyond your wildest dreams.”

If you were inspired by Sabrina’s story and would like to find out more about her exercise journey, check out her website for links to her podcast, book, and information on Black Trail Runner events.

Start your breast cancer prevention journey today by taking our prevention quiz.

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