The CEO of Muscular Dystrophy UK has taken on the toughest physical challenge of her career

Catherine Woodhead is attempting to walk the distance of Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for people living with muscle-wasting conditions. She is a shining example of someone who strides – in this case literally – to meet the ongoing and evolving demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catherine, who works 14-hour long days, wakes up at 5am every single weekday to walk around Chelmsford as she clocks up miles for LeJog 2021. Since the start of this year, she has completed an astonishing 150 miles of the 874-mile long virtual challenge.

Catherine has set up a JustGiving page that can be accessed here, as she raises funds to support essential research and services available to those who live with a muscle-wasting condition. She often posts videos of her early morning, bitterly cold walks, on Twitter here.

Catherine will incorporate three virtual marathons into her challenge as part of LeJog, which she expects to complete by October.

These are: the Lejog 2021, the Royal Half Parks Marathon on 11 April and the 2021 Virtual Virgin London Marathon in October.

Catherine describes parallels in the leading of a charity and the physical demands of this enormous challenge.

She said: “These are the biggest physical things I have asked of myself in over 20 years in the sector, requiring a lot of training. Walking – rather than jogging – helps me manage my pace in life. The past year demanded so much of everyone working in the sector to ensure charities coped and responded to the needs of our community. It’s been important to remember that working through the effects of the pandemic is a marathon – not a race. It’s been tricky to maintain a manageable pace and I remind myself of this when I get the urge to jog more.”

Catherine, who is also currently home-schooling her two children, said the early morning exercise gives her a chance to reflect on her emotions.

She said: “It’s important to release the tension of the job, and this does give me the space to do that. On top of the fear people have told us they have about the pandemic, we’ve continued to lose people as a result of their condition. In one week in January, we lost three men in our community. It’s overwhelming to think of what their families must be going through, and how they are managing their grief in lockdown, on top of everything else.”

Catherine said that taking part in LeJog provides her with an opportunity to appreciate the efforts of her MDUK colleagues and the support from those with muscle-wasting conditions.

She said: “I’m incredibly proud of the team and how they have adapted to these ongoing challenges. We must remember our incredible community who have been there with us, all the way through this. The resilience of individuals and families living with muscle-wasting conditions, the families who are managing a new diagnosis, the researchers finding ways to continue with their commitment to find new treatments, and clinicians supporting families on clinical trials, have been extraordinary.”

%d bloggers like this: