Fat middle aged mum runs for her life

Okay so maybe ‘slightly overweight’ middle aged mum would be more accurate, but fat makes a better headline, right? Anyway, I’m 11 stone and a size 14 which is huuuuuuge by fashion industry standards and I have fat in places where no fat should be. Which is why I will never wear a bikini again!

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This is the fatter me recently, running in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. In the rain.

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London Marathon 1987, one of the best days of my life!

This was me in my mid twenties on a very proud day. But my running career had an inauspicious start.

Three years earlier I could’ve been voted employee least likely likely to run for a bus. My colleagues mocked my attempts at jogging, and when I announced my intention to run a half marathon they sponsored me large amounts per mile… But I got the last laugh, and a local charity did extremely well when I finished in just over two hours.

And I just kept going, joining clubs, running races, taking breaks and beginning again. Right now I’m training really hard for the 10K Great Ireland Run in April and hoping to break the hour — a big change from the days when I was trying to break 45 minutes! But I’m nearly there…

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So while I’ve been running on and off for a long time, others like Sinéad at Shinners and the Brood are just starting, with the excellent couch to 5K programme. Good luck to everyone who is beginning a journey to fitness in 2017, and here are some random running tips from a veteran…

All you need is a pair of trainers and a bit of determination to get started.

But you’ll soon want to spend some money. For comfort and to avoid injury you should invest in a good pair of running shoes bought from a proper running shop where advice is available. Plus a supportive sports bra (unless you’re a man, I guess!). And there’s lots of amazing, gorgeous and useful running gear now, with quick dry fabrics and even bum bags with water bottle holders!

Running on your own is hard to do all the time. I would definitely recommend joining a running group or club. You can find them via social media, sites such as boards.ie (Ireland) or apps like MeetUp.

A goal will keep you focused and keep you going. Whether that’s a regular 5K #Parkrun  or a marathon, it will help you leave the house on those days when you’d much rather slump on the couch with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

Variety also helps avoid boredom: take different routes, take photos when you need to stop. Try longer slower runs, or shorter faster ones. Try different locations and times of the day, running in sand or up hills will test you, but the scenery will be great, and there’s something special about running in the city early in the morning when it’s quiet and fresh.

Races are fun to test yourself and to experience the feeling of running with a crowd, getting a medal, a T shirt, and maybe raising funds for a good cause.

Struggling to find a babysitter? Run with a buggy. They are welcome at some parkruns and bigger races too. I slowly ran the Great Pink Run 5K course last year pushing my adult disabled daughter.

Running apps, love them or hate them, they can be motivational. Most people I know use Runkeeper.

Need a break from running? Take it. Your legs will remember the training you’ve done and it will be easier going back than it was starting out.

Running may not feel easy at first, but if you push through, you should get to a point where you feel comfortable running at a pace that’s right for you. You’ll enjoy the feeling of moving, of meeting other runners, of looking at the world around you, and the fresh air. Our bodies were made to run!

As for me, I’m running for my life. To keep me alive, to give me more energy for my children, to help me ditch medication, and to battle anxiety and depression, the life partners of many family carers, including me.

So to all the middle aged women out there who say they cannot run, I have this message: Yes. We. Can.

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