I started running in September 2014, it started with a favour for a friend and ended up with me running unthinkable distances.
Harry (the bird on the left) is to blame for my running. If he had flown to the event I would never have started running.
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 South Leeds Lakers.
The first time I met the South Leeds Sisters.
My first year was very hit and miss, I had a few injuries and the usual winter illnesses that meant I was unable to run for a while.
Shortly before my return, South Leeds Lakers had started. I wasn’t sure about joining a mixed gender group but after some internal debating decided to give it a go. A year later, I’m still giving it a go and I’m also a run leader.
South Leeds Lakers at East Leeds 10k 2016.
I have found a huge love of running. The buzz from running faster, further or better than before is the best, 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 of in the freezing cold and getting warm from running feels great too. I also quite like running in the rain !
A wet parkrun with Ian.
Some people I have met prefer running in a group, some prefer running alone. I don’t actually care either way. Both have their 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. I can run in areas that I wouldn’t feel safe in alone and I can run 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 Roller Coaster!
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 both 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.
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 Associated and British Heart Foundation. I’m currently near the end of a challenge to run 12 races in 12 months for The Leeds Children’s Hospital.
Me and Hannah approaching the finish line at Leeds 10k 2014. Before the race with Hannah and Denise.
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, not just running. There were a few people who I had met before who I would say hello to in passing and are now definitely 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.
This is an extended version of a piece I wrote for Run Leeds .