The beginner of our team, Abbey Payne is actually no stranger to mud and steep slopes – her love of trail running has grown from her experiences hill walking in Scotland. That passion for the outdoors has seen Abbey through some tough times: she’s suffered with depression on and off for five years, which worsened when she was temporarily house-bound after an operation to remove one kidney in 2013. This May, two weeks into a Couch to 5K programme, she found out she had an ovarian cyst, which meant further surgery. Now Abbey is more determined than ever to take care of her mental and physical health, using running to help.
What made you enter Project Trail?
It just seemed very exciting. I do my hill walking anyway, so it’s just running instead of walking, a bit of a challenge.
How has exercise helped you recover from your health problems – both physically and mentally?
After my last surgery, all I could do was walk. So I tried to walk every single day just to get out of the house because, when I had my kidney out, sitting at home all the time just didn’t help me recover at all. That’s when I became quite depressed. So this time, the running and walking helped me get out the house and get in the fresh air, so it just helped me clear my head a bit.
Tell me about some of your favourite places to run and walk?
I like walking in Scotland. I’ve just walked up Stac Pollaidh [in the north-west Highlands] faster than my mum and dad, who didn’t think I’d make it to the top. A few years ago she said she wouldn’t even have thought you’d get halfway, so went straight to the top with my boyfriend and left my mum and dad behind. It was gorgeous, the views at the top were stunning. Round where I live, we’ve got something called the Guild Wheel in Preston which is a 20-odd mile cycle route along the canals, and it takes you away from the centre of Preston with all the trees and scenery. I’ve got to do a bit of road to get to it but because I know there’s that at the end of it I don’t mind!
What will be your biggest challenge during Project Trail?
The nutrition. I find if I haven’t eaten the right things, I never run as fast as I want to. I think my diet’s quite healthy but there’s obviously going to be special diets you can use to help you with your running. It’ll be good meeting the people from HIGH5.
What are you hoping to learn?
How much I can do. Especially mentally, with the depression over the last few years. So to go out there and run a half-marathon after having a kidney out and having another surgery, and after having all these issues for five or six years, is just amazing. You don’t realise what the body can do.
What are you looking forward to most?
Just the experience. Meeting [the rest of the team] has been really good. I’m a beginner but the other two are more experienced and everyone’s been so lovely – we’re talking about setting up a little group so we can all start talking. That’ll be really good and motivating.