With A Little Help From My Friends!
I started running in September 2014, it started with a favour for a friend and ended up with me running unthinkable distances.
I was fat and unfit and decided to do something about it. My running journey started with the gorgeous girls from South Leeds Sisters, they were so kind and encouraging that I returned week after week. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I can’t make the sessions as often as I would like. I also found parkrun and later the South Leeds Lakers.
My first year was very much hit and miss, I had a few injuries and the usual winter illnesses that meant I was unable to run for a while.
On my return after a winter hiatus I joined the South Leeds Lakers, a new mixed gender social running group. I wasn’t sure about joining a mixed gender group but after some internal debating decided to give it a go – a year later and I’m still giving it a go, as a runner and a run leader!
I have discovered a huge love of running. The buzz from running faster, further or better than before is the best; but, not quite as good as the buzz from buying jeans 2 sizes smaller than when I started!
I love running in all weathers, coming home dripping wet from a run is a fantastic feeling. Coming home hot and sweaty from a sunny run is amazing. Setting off in the freezing cold and getting warm from running feels great too!
Some people I have met prefer running in a group, some prefer running alone. I don’t actually care either way – both have benefits. Running with other people means you have someone to chat to, “chatting pace” is a good training pace. The general advice is, if you can’t talk, you’re going too fast. I also like the security of running with other people because I can run in areas that I wouldn’t feel safe in alone and after dark.
Running groups also come in useful for different types of training. There is no way I would run up and down a series of hills in the middle of Beeston on my own, but with the Lakers I have enjoyed the challenge of the Beeston Rollercoaster!
When I first started running, I was very self-conscious. A short, fat woman in Lycra is bound to be a target for hecklers. The running groups helped me with that. Now I don’t hide in black Lycra, I wear the brightest thing I can find.
I also like running alone, just me and my music. I have a few regular routes which have evolved from the beginning. Initially, I chose routes that kept me away from lots of traffic and people. What if someone I knew saw me? The embarrassment didn’t bear thinking about. Now I’m more upset if no one sees me!
Following my introduction to South Leeds Lakers, I was convinced to train as a run leader. Contrary to my initial impression, you don’t have to be at the front to be a leader – every run group needs a back marker and that’s me!
Running is addictive, it’s an addiction that I would recommend for most people. I am slimmer, healthier and have improved skin. I am more aware of my diet, yes, I still indulge in wine and chocolate but a little less often than before – I also feel less guilty when I treat myself!
Running is a social activity. I have met loads of fantastic people and had some fun times, outside of running too! There were a few people who I would say hello to in passing and now we call each other friends.
I bore everyone I meet with my running stories and try and convince friends and colleagues to join me. Some have and are now as addicted as I am!
As a way of keeping motivated, I booked a race and committed to raise money for charity. The first two years I ran Leeds 10k for the Stroke Association and British Heart Foundation. I’m currently in the middle of a challenge to run 12 races in 12 months for The Leeds Children’s Hospital.
You can follow my 12 races in 12 month progress on:
Run with the Lakers here: http://runleeds.co.uk/running-group/south-leeds-lakers/