I'm Helen, the Cheesecake Runner, and my passion is to help runners eat a balanced healthy diet to achieve their weight-loss, fitness and running goals. ​ I've been there ... done that. Got the T-shirt, banana and BLING! ​ It wasn’t long ago that I started my marathon running ‘career’ from scratch. To get there I changed my lifestyle, my diet and wham bamboozled my fitness. I also changed my career, and now as The Cheesecake Runner I coach runners along their journeys towards achieving their running goals. ​ The truth is, nothing changes ... if nothing changes! Oh boy ... I had to change! Let me take you back to how I started out on this crazy journey. I was a lazy kid. My brother called me Porky and was an expert at getting out of ‘games’ at school! I went to my first aerobics class at 21 and was hooked.  After suffering badly with DOMS after that first class, within a few weeks I was a regular and bouncing around like a Duracell bunny, in a leopard print leotard and leg warmers gyrating and funkin' my stuff in as many classes as I could find across town (don't judge me ... it was the late '80's!)  I joined a gym and started to use weights and to treadmill run (yup still in that leotard!) I eventually plucked up the courage to run a 10k and a few years later a half. ​ Then work took over! And when I work, I work serious, long and hard hours. Lots of business travel working away from home meant I was pretty much living in hotels for months at a time. So when my 40th birthday was on the horizon, I decided I was going to run The London Marathon. I went back to the gym and my compulsive treadmill running habit returned. I didn’t pay attention to my training plan, each training run was pretty much done at the same average pace.  I didn’t think about changing my diet, although I did start to eat a lot of pasta and indulge in a large mounds of Cadburys.  I thought marathon training, since I was burning a lot of calories, gave me permission to pig out on all those tempting treats I’d denied myself in pursuit of gym body beautiful. ​ That year, I wanted a sub 4, but I came in closer to 5.  It wasn’t the time, that was ok, it was how I felt during and after the race.  Bad ... Really, Really Bad! ​ I bonked early ​ I remember feeling really crap and out of sorts at 10k.  I held it together, just.  By mile 20 all I could do was power walk.  I almost passed out after crossing the line, I was sick, I couldn’t walk in a straight line, and had to sit down under a tree to compose myself before I could face my friends and family.  I couldn’t hold down anything for hours after and it took over a week for me to eat properly again. ​ So what went wrong? ​ I thought I knew it all and didn’t listen to advice.  I carb loaded ... a lot. Boy I pigged out on pasta!  But didn’t think about what else I needed to change in my diet.  I thought training, and running miles, gave me permission to eat crap.  So my calorific intake, and intake of fat, went up.  I ate cakes, biscuits and sweets like they're going out of fashion whilst training. But during the race I only drank water, I didn't eat or take on other fuel. I was running with a dieter mind-set, that going for a run was all about calorie burn to lose weight! All in all I had a very unhealthy relationship with training, food and running! Fast forward a few years, to when I finally committed to a new lifestyle. I didn’t realise it, but by 2012 I was burnt out.  I was working all hours of the day, travelling and working away from home.  Running had to fit around my busy family and social life at weekends.  Cheese and wine were my crutches, to get through my workweek, and through and out the other side of a bad relationship. ​ Porky was back … And this time she was super sized! ​ That year I finally had my wake up call.  London 2012 Olympics I went to so many events my credit card was super charged.  Super Saturday, Bolt's 100 and the finals of the mens beach volleyball!  I remembered what it was like to have a race adrenaline surge and endorphins sprinting through your body after exercise.  Something had to be done! ​ I had to get a grip.  Health, fitness and my diet were to be my priorities ​ And a grip I finally got!  10 years after I ran that first marathon I was back running the streets of London.  Trust me, that year I trained properly.  I studied and adopted a healthy diet focused around my training plan.  I didn’t get a sub 4, but did knock 30 minutes off my previous marathon time. Since then, and turning 50, I’ve PB-ed at Half, 10k and 5k, run multiple sub 4 hour Marathons and have achieved a VLM19 Good for Age place. I’m stronger, fitter and faster than ever before. ​ If Porky can do this, so can you! Last year I set up the London Marathon Training & Support Facebook Group which has over 4,000 members, most of whom ran their first marathon this year. In this group I worked with these first time marathoners helping them go from excited, yet apprehensive about they were ever going to run their first marathon and raise the thousands pledged for their charities, guiding them through training and fundraising motivating, and encouraging them to be awesome and achieve their own personal goals to realise their dreams. This year, following the awesome success of my Facebook group, I’ve launched an online marathon coaching and support programme, Marathon Club Hub, that guides and helps newbie and improve-bie marathon runners with running, food for fitness, fundraising and managing their morale and motivation to master the marathon. Marathon Club Hub is open right now. Click here if you’d like to find out more 


I have been Secretary of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals for nearly 22 years.  I was nursing my first child who was only about a month old when I was contacted by the previous Secretary of the society, the late Valerie Elliott. She was desperate to retire and was having great difficulty in finding someone to replace her.  I was already an enthusiastic supporter of the society as it combined my two great loves – Christianity and animals so I agreed to give it a go.


All these years later ASWA is still going strong and I am delighted to see new organisations with similar aims on the scene – Creaturekind and SARX. CCA and QCA are still flourishing as well as the wonderful Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.  We all share a similar goal and want to see the Church leading the way or at least actively involved in animal welfare, although our approaches might differ.  A wonderful woman and great friend called Margaret Grant used to call her ASWA activities ‘the great work’. At the end of her life she asked me to promise I would continue that work for as long as I was able.  I hope to be faithful to that promise.


ASWA are holding a half day conference on SAT 6th OCTOBER focusing on  the importance of caring for  our Marine Environment 9.00am - 12.30

The following day SUN 7th OCTOBER is Animal Welfare Sunday and at the same venue - St. Mary's Portsea Fratton Road Portsmouth there will be a Celebration Service at 10.00am


On SUNDAY 11th NOVEMBER at 3.00pm at the Animals War Memorial Park Lane London there will be a short service with guest speakers Pen Farthing and Susan Osborne.


For more details on all these events email



Sam is also a shepherdess


On the day that Animals Asia are launching the  emergency rescue of 5 bears in Vietnam- their founder Jill Robinson shares something of what inspires her to keep pushing on 20 years after the Charity was launched:


What inspires me to get started and keep going is the sight of the bears frolicking outside of my room at our China Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu.  We have the glorious Snoopy and friends pottering happily about in their enclosure, and celebrating the freedom and choices they waited for years to enjoy on the farms.  The fact that Snoopy is blind adds even more profoundly to the joy in my heart and the voice in my head that says "keep going" for animals who have earned their right to be free. 

The simple pleasure of hand feeding Snoopy with apples after she has wandered over to the front of her den is immeasurable -  each piece taken with such relish and thoughtfully chewed over, before she purses her velvety lips for the next.  With over 600 bears rescued into our sanctuaries in China and Vietnam, perhaps we could be forgiven for feeling satisfied, but I know that we never can be until the terrible industry of bear bile farming has come to an end and all bears, like Snoopy, are enjoying their days in the sun.

Until then, we get started each day and keep going - until the cruelty ends.




Jill Robinson