An Illusion of Fitness

Today I saw an overweight runner – she was clearly hot and tired and if I’m honest she looked utterly beaten. Her hair was windswept, her face was red and she was sweating buckets – her running kit didn’t fit well and she’d clearly had to force herself into her workout clothes.

It was me.

I’d caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window as I’d run past and I was horrified at what I had seen. I always imagined I looked free and in control as I ran – sometimes I even imagine I look strong and happy but that wasn’t what I saw in the mirror. I just looked tired, overweight and unhappy – I didn’t look healthy and I looked weak. I looked fat. Really fat.

I was about 3k into my run at this point and knew I had another 2k to go to reach my 5k target and at that point I pretty much just gave up. This wasn’t the sport for me – clearly I needed to go back home, sit on my sofa and stay where I belonged. The longer I stayed in one spot the more horrified by my own image I became. I could feel all the confidence I’d gained over the past couple of months slipping away and I nearly burst into tears right there on the high street.

Not being a fan of crying in public I walked away and headed down a different street. The further away I walked the better I felt – it was like the further I walked from that image the more I could visualise the me I wanted to be when I ran. I could restore that image I had of myself as a different person, a person who was slim, fit and strong. A person who was in control and who could do anything she set her mind to.

Because that’s the person I need to be when I run. I need that utterly false illusion of myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to keep moving. Only by keeping that illusion of myself intact can I ever actually be that person – if I’m a realist about my actual figure or level of fitness I’ll never change anything. My self confidence and inner demons will make sure I’m forever consigned to the sofa and I never change anything. Those inner demons who long for me to fail – those inner demons born years of bullying at school, crappy boyfriends poking fun at how I look and giving me crippling levels of self confidence and bad friends who made me feel like a second choice. Those people (and cake) helped to caused this situation in the first place and if I pay attention to those voices I’ll lose this fight.

So illusion me wins – yes it might not be how I actually look and it’s probably not healthy to recognise that and ignore it but that’s the way it is staying for the moment. Illusion me gets to stay so one day I might actually look and feel like I imagine I do.

In the meantime I’ll not be running past any shop windows until I can be sure I’ll be able to keep going past with a smile on my face.

Run Report -10th June 2016

First run in two weeks this morning – all was going well until about 1.8km when I fell over a tree root and scraped my leg up. Tried to carry on but my leg, ankle, elbow and hands were hurting from the tumble and I just couldn’t find my pace again.

Very annoying as I’d run the 1.8km without any stops which was new for me as I’ve never made it over 1km without stopping before.

Trying to shake it off and find the positive though – had a nice time, the weather was good and the people were all nice and friendly today. Particularly the two incredibly fit chaps bouncing round the lake at 100mph while having a chat like it was no big deal! They smiled every time they passed me and that little bit of encouragement really helped keep me going.

Never underestimate how much a nod, a smile or a thumbs up can really pick you up when you are struggling. To have the encouragement and positivity from a total stranger is a lovely thing.

I’ll try to get out again on Sunday – but this time look where I’m going a bit more carefully!

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I’m a runner

To the people on Petersfield Heath this evening who thought it was funny to call me names.

Firstly – of course I can hear you, they are cheap headphones not ear defenders so please don’t look so surprised when the person you’ve just called a “fat sweaty bitch” turns around and glares at you.

Secondly – you are right in some ways. I am fat and sweaty but I’m not a bitch. I’m generally a kind person but that I’m aware of my weight doesn’t make a difference to my personality. I‘m trying to loose weight and better myself for both my own health and to set a good example to my daughter. You however will always be a bitch if you don’t clear up that attitude and start to support people trying to walk a positive path.

I may not always be fat but you will always be the person who tried to make me feel crap about it.

Didn’t work though – I ran my route (slowly and not swimming across the lake as my app seems to think) and finished up with a smile on my face.

My first run since the 9th March wasn’t pleasant, was slow and was hard hard work but I’m still proud of myself for going in the first place.

Screw you haters – I’m might be slow, I might be fat but I’m a bloody runner.

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N.B – this is a post originally from Facebook, if you aren’t following me there why not come over and join in the fun? http://www.facebook.com/muminpractice 

The first step is the hardest

I thought about going for a run for at least 6 months before I actually went and did it. I said I didn’t have the right shoes, I didn’t have the right kit, I didn’t have the time, the weather wasn’t right as it was too warm or too cold and a million of other excuses.

Realistically I was terrified – I’m a very round person running in public for the first time in around 15 years and that was hugely daunting. The most important step I took was the first one though, once I’d actually got out the car and taken those first few steps I realised that it wasn’t as huge as I’d made it out to be. Even though I couldn’t run for more than a few seconds before I got winded I could take those first few steps and that was what counted.

I asked the ladies on the Run Mummy Run for some advice for first time runners and they came up with some really lovely suggestions. If you are thinking of going for a run but need a bit of self confidence or bravery have a read of these……

If you’re overweight like me, then it’s vital to get gait analysed to ensure correct shoes, this will help avoid injuries. C25K is a great app, but don’t be afraid to repeat days/weeks as necessary. If you’re not very fit running can be a big shock to the system, better to build strength and endurance slowly than push too hard, too soon and pick up an injury. Remember you are awesome for getting out there! – Deborah

A good sports bra! – Vicki

Don’t give up, keep going even if you can only manage 1 minute you are still a runner and are still amazing – Claire

Don’t give up – the first 3 runs you do will all feel awful and leave your body & confidence pretty battered….then you will start to feel slightly better, bit by bit and before you know it you will go for a run and it will feel actually ok! – Emily

Gait. Join Run Mummy Run. Don’t compare, don’t worry. Remember why your starting this journey. Have a goal. Get support – Hannah

From someone who is overweight and very self conscious – my main advice is don’t care about what you think people might say, it is about you and your battle and any speed you do is faster than not trying. Also it gets quicker. The feeling from achieving something you thought impossible is amazing and worth every battle through those first km! Oh and last piece of advice – go to parkruns, people are more supportive than you could ever imagine x – Faye

Stop worrying that people are looking at you… If they’re looking at you, they’re most likely thinking about how fabulous you are! Buy proper trainers! And remember that you are a queen and go for it – Hana

So if you are thinking of trying running please don’t let your fear get the best of you. No matter what shape or size you are I truly believe that running is something that most enable bodied people can do. It’s not a race, you are only competing with yourself and apart from shoes and a bra (if you wear one!) you don’t need special kit.

Get yourself some support either in the form of family or friends or if you prefer a bit of anonymity then head over to the Run Mummy Run closed Facebook group. I haven’t often come across such an overwhelmingly nice bunch of women – some are just starting out and some are ultra marathon runners but the thing they all have in common is they all had to take that first step at some point. They all make time to support you when you aren’t sure, offer the expertise they have and to encourage you to keep going when you want to give up. It really is a remarkable and welcoming online community.

So go on. Take those first steps and go for a little jog about or even a fast walk – you’ll be so proud of yourself when you do.

Let me know how you get on and well done for taking those first difficult steps.

x

Run Report w/c 22.2.16

You might remember a couple of weeks ago when I published my vlog saying that I was going back to the start of couch to 5k because I was struggling to make progress and it’s a decision I’m still happy with. I haven’t stuck by it week by week but taking me back to the start has really allowed me to concentrate on my breathing and my technique. I’m back up to 5 minutes solid running again now which is good but I know I can do better if I could just get my breathing sorted out. I have had some great advice though  from the ladies on the Run Mummy Run Facebook group and since then have been working on breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. It feels really unnatural and occasionally I feel like I’m hyperventilating but that seems to mean I’m going too fast as well so I’ll add that to the list of things I need to work on.

Thursday’s run wasn’t the best – I started to feel like I’ve spent the last 5 months learning how to run and can’t get beyond 5 minutes so maybe I’m just not very good at it. At that point I was ready to just hand in my running shoes to the nearest charity shop and walk barefoot to the cake shop. This was brief blip but highlighted to me how much I need to find my joy of running again – it’s becoming too much of a chore and not something I’m looking forward to anymore. On Thursday it seemed like running made me feel bad and doesn’t make me feel good about myself anymore so I should just stop.

I woke up on Friday feeling more positive but aware I needed something to change if I was going to keep going. So I made another post on the RMR Facebook group and they gave me the confidence and courage I needed to arrange getting to my first Parkrun event.

Parkrun is a brilliant initiative where they run totally free 5k running events on Saturdays all over the world. I can’t even begin to explain how nervous I was about going to a proper running event – I am a very round person who mostly walks and runs rather than actual running and I really don’t have a place at any proper running event. I just don’t belong with people who call themselves runners….but I forgot the golden rule of running which is – 8ad9190e946668bee3c0f560a554dbd6

So on Saturday morning I found myself standing in the cold with my husband, our daughter and 232 other people getting ready to run 5k. I’ve never taken part in a 5k event before….in fact I’ve never taken part in any event so it’s fair to assume I was wetting myself with fear and self loathing. Everyone around me was setting their fancy running watches, doing fancy stretches in their fancy running gear. They were all elite runners and clearly all contenders for the top spots in the London Marathon. In fact I’d be surprised if we didn’t see every single one of them at Rio Olympics this year.

My paranoid mind might have taken over at this point so it was probably a good job the new runner briefing was held at this time and I started to get a real picture of what was happening that day.

I should point out that Parkrun events are entirely run by volunteers – marshals, counters, barcode swipers and every person on that course is there as a volunteer and wants to make your run a good one. They cheer you on, keep you going, make sure you don’t get lost, help you up if you slip over and are generally all around brilliant people. The friendly chap who gave us our new runner briefing was encouraging, helpful and good humoured and calmed me down enough that I started to have a look around a bit better and with a clearer mind.

The people around me were in all shapes and sizes – some with dogs, some with pushchairs, some on their own, some as part of running clubs, some in tracksuits, some in top notch gear and some looking as nervous as I felt. Some were older, some were younger, some looked fitter and some looked on the more on my side of the fitness scales. Most however were smiling and making the way to the start line so I followed on.

The next 40 minutes and 22 seconds (please note how I subtly fitted in my time there) were hard work. No matter how welcoming and nice the people are they can’t change the distance or my fitness levels sadly! But what I have to point out is how much the atmosphere helped – I hit a downhill too hard at one point and I felt my calves pulling the rest of the way round. They didn’t pull enough for me to stop but it did mean I walked the second lap much more than I wanted. As they were running past so many people asked if I was ok and they reminded me I could do it I just needed to keep moving. It was because of them I didn’t stop.

All in all I was really impressed with the way the event was organised, the cheerfulness of all the volunteers but mostly the atmosphere they’ve been able to cultivate. I immediately felt like I was part of the group, like I was welcome and that I really could do this.

It made a huge difference to my outlook and I’m looking forward to going running tomorrow morning now. I will be going for a run with the knowledge that I’ve already proven I can do it and if I keep going, keep working at it and keep learning I will improve.

One day I’ll run a full 5k without stopping. Hopefully it’ll be one day soon but in the meantime I’ll just have to be patient and stick at it. I also know that I’ll be going back to Parkrun as soon as I can.

Here is a picture of my sweaty and red face having just completed the run. I’ll always regret the thumbs up but I was too tired to think of a clever pose or caption!

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Thanks to all the team at Havant Parkrun for making me feel so welcome and as always huge thanks to the ladies of RMR – you are truly wonderful people

Running Update

Time to get back to it………

Here is an update for you all on my running – today’s lessons include learning to avoid giant freezing puddles and being able to take a step back to move forward.

I’ve also answered a couple of the questions you’ve sent me. If you have any other questions you’d like me to answer then just comment on this blog, on the video or email me at muminpractice@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer them 🙂

January Gym Users

Hello fellow round people in the gym!

It was lovely to see you today – please stick around.

I know serious gym people must really hate the sudden influx of new people in January but for me it’s just lovely to see other people who look like me there!

Going to the gym is so intimidating if you are a round person. It feels like everyone is fitter than you, everyone is slimmer than you and everyone is looking at you. The truth is that everyone is pretty focussed on their workout and probably haven’t even noticed you walk in.

So please keep coming to the gym fellow circular people – we can sweat together, win together and quietly hate every second together while also being very proud of our achievements 🙂

x

Dear running shoes

I know over the last few weeks it might seem like I don’t love you anymore and I’ve forgotten about you but that’s just not true. I’ve just been having a little affair with my slippers and an awful lot of bacon – but I swear I thought of you the whole time.

Tomorrow is a new day and we will have a nice outing to the gym or to the heath and we will try to reconnect. Its not going to be easy for either of us but we have targets to reach so we need to get back to it.

I still love you and I know we can find our pace again.

Love, me x x

 

Shoes

Running Happy in Petersfield

I put my big brave pants on this morning and went for my run on the roads instead of hiding at the heath like I usually do. I’m taking part in a Poppy Run Challenge from Virtual Runner UK to try and complete 33k over the month of November and I wanted to get a few extra km under my feet to head me towards the target.

I popped my Royal British Legion running top on and crept out of my front door to start what I was hoping would be a 7km run / walk for today.

Now I’m a plus sized person running – that is usually something that makes people take a double look at me anyway but by adding highly noticeable shirt to the mix I felt like I was making myself a target. I’ve not yet had a run on the road where some sarcastic comment hasn’t been made about my weight by a passer by or a ‘comedy’ comment about how I need to run faster and those are the ones I actually hear. I’m sure people say things too quiet for me to hear over my music or think not particularly nice thoughts. That’s one of the reasons I don’t run on the road – it’s much easier for me to hide at the heath and keep my eyes firmly on the ground.

But not today. Today I was going to be brave so I set out around 9:30am and jogged my way around the town.

I don’t know if it was the top or just that all the nice people were out and about today but there wasn’t one comment. A couple of people even gave me thumbs up from their cars as they drove past and I got lots of nods and smiles from other people walking around. I couldn’t believe the difference it made.

I smiled and enjoyed myself for just over 50 minutes of running around the town and I was in a brilliant mood when I got home. I chuckled remembering the driver of a silver Nissan giving me a double thumbs up and her children in the back doing the same.

It’s not easy loosing weight – it’s a damn sight easier putting it on that’s for sure but I am trying. I’ve only been running for a few months and with over 4 stone to loose I’ve got a long journey ahead of me but because of today I’m slightly less afraid of it. I’m slightly less worried about going out and having people look at me as the fat girl running. I am a fat girl running but I am still running.

So if you see an overweight, red faced and very very slow runner making her way round Petersfield please don’t knock this new found confidence I’ve got. Please don’t make funny comments about my weight or how I’m not very fast because I might ignore you or look away but I guarantee you they weigh me down more than any cake I’ve ever eaten. Comments like that stick with you and when your brain is telling you that you are too tired to go on those are the words that you hear repeating back. Those words and those looks are the devil on your shoulder telling you to stop and that you were never good enough anyway. Those sly looks and mimes of how I look when I run are what stop me from being brave enough to leave the house.

But because some people were kind and took no more than two seconds out of their day to smile at me I now have an angel on the other shoulder helping me to ignore the cruel words and instead focus on the encouragement from strangers.

So thank you Petersfield. Thank you for being kind to me today. Please can it stay that way?

Running Lessons

I’ve been at this running lark for a couple of months now and I’m starting to learn a few things about it.

Here is what I have learnt so far –

Run on the left – this isn’t actually a rule I know but it would really please me if it was. No more playing chicken in the middle of the path and having to break your hard won stride. Much like roads and escalators – you travel on the left hand side if you are moving.

Acknowledging other runners and cyclists – now this is a bit contested I think but I’m all for saying hello to people. In fact a little while ago I was running round the lake and crossed paths with a chap coming in the other direction three times – on the forth time we exchanged a high five and it was brilliant. Made me smile all the way round for the 5th go. Even if its just a nod and a smile you should acknowledge the people around you, that little smile you give might give them a bit of an extra push to keep going.

Overtaking – don’t do it unless you are 100% certain you are going to sustain the pace to stay in front of them. You’ll only end up in a game of slowing down and speeding up if you keep overtaking each other.

Don’t judge – you don’t know anything about the people around you running. This might be their first time out or they may have been running for years. They might not know where they are going and have strayed onto your regular route. Don’t judge their shoes, their clothes, their pace or the kit they use. We can see when people do it to us and it doesn’t feel nice. Stop it.

Running in the rain is fun – you don’t overheat, you get to splash in puddles like a toddler and you’ll get smiles from anyone else you come across who is also crazy enough to be out in the rain. It’s lovely.

Light up – the nights are drawing in earlier now and early morning runs are just as difficult. You need to have lights and they are so accessible and cheap now there isn’t any excuse not to. They’ll keep you safe from vehicles, cyclists and other runners by helping them to see you are there – don’t rely entirely on reflective gear and make sure you combine it with some lights.

Ignore the idiots – I’m a round person going for a run so it’s sadly expected I’ll get some comments from people who are under the sad disillusion they are funny. It’s not nice, it will make you feel crap for a few seconds before you realise you’ve run past them and they are already in the past. Do not feed the trolls. You are out and you are running which already makes you a winner and one step closer to your goals than you were sat on the sofa.

Track your progress – There are so many apps now that do this but I’d recommend MapMyRun to track your progress. It’s really rewarding to see how far you’ve come in the way of distance and pace and will give you an extra boost on days when you are finding it tough to get out.

You are brilliant – no matter if this is your first run or your 100th ultra marathon you are brilliant. You’ve put your shoes on, set off and gone out to put some miles under your feet. For that alone you are marvellous and you shouldn’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.