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In a few days time, my Tedx talk all about how you live a bigger life will hit YouTube…eeeekkk.

I open the talk with a bit about running marathons, I say that when it comes to marathon running people tend to fall into one of three categories

  1. Those who have run a marathon
  2. Those who would like to run a marathon
  3. Those who couldn’t think of anything worse than having to run a marathon

Which one are you?

If I am being honest before I got into running around 15 years ago, marathons were not even on my radar…I’m not sure I had even watched one on the TV…I sure as hell didn’t know anyone in real life who had run one.

So why did I run my first one back in 2012?

To prove to the world that I could

I was asked that question yesterday in a podcast and I have been thinking about it ever since.

Why do people increasingly have this desire to run 26.2 miles? All in one go???!!!!!

Because come on let’s face it it isn’t an easy feat, it’s mentally and physically challenging, it takes up all your time AND MONEY, it plays havoc with your body (bye bye lovely toes) and it seriously causes more stress that seems bearable at times.

Yet people new to the distance sign up in their droves despite knowing all of this.

Now you might be reading this and wondering yourself if running a marathon features in your near future?

You may be in the ballot for the London Marathon…or you may be thinking about signing up for a Spring 2019 marathon elsewhere in the world.

So to help you make a decision one way or another I have pulled together 5 hard to ignore reasons to sign up for your first marathon…NOW!!!

1. Natural Progression 

Perhaps you are someone who has been naturally progressing from distance to distance, building in confidence, taking on new race distances and making steady improvement. Maybe you have a few half marathons under your belt and know deep down that the 26.2 mile distance is the next thing to try.

Never feel pressured to make the jump from half to full, but know that actually most of the hard work has been done if you can run a half marathon, and by that I mean you have already shown a commitment to the sport, and already have a lot of the training and race logistics and know how under your belt.

The thing is with very few 10mile+ races out there, you are never really going to increase your training distances without the pressure of a larger race…and just think, once you have a few marathons under your belt you can then start looking at the joys of ultra marathons (only joking, or am I?)

I have found that when I jump from half marathon to full marathon something switches in my mindset towards training. I turn up to training sessions, I run with others, I take better care of myself…because a half marathon you can kind of blag, but a marathon you absolutely can not.

So if you are looking for a kick up the backside to take your running more serious…this could be it.

2. Now or Never

Perhaps you have come to running later in life (hey don’t worry…us women improve with age at this distance apparently), or perhaps you are planning to have a baby, or about to embark on a career change, or are in great shape and hungry for the challenge or perhaps you are about to move to a different continent and everything is about to change. When planning for a marathon it always makes sense to look at your current circumstances to review if now is a good time to commit or not.

I am so glad I made the decision to run my first marathon when I did because even though I was involved in a really hectic job the following year my baby daughter was born, and I seriously do not think I would have caught the running bug afterward. Running my 2nd marathon when she was just over a year old was good timing too, as it helped me have something that was just for me at a time where I was struggling with my new identity as “Mum” and still had childcare to enable me to do it. It has become much more of a juggling act since then.

Don’t get me wrong there is never a perfect time to train for a marathon as most of us have to juggle other life commitments, but ask yourself if I don’t commit now will I ever? And if you don’t will you be kicking yourself in years to come?

3. A Close to the Heart Cause

This is a great one for motivation. Women who show little interest in running a marathon all of a sudden become the most driven when there is a cause they believe in passionately. This could be about raising funds to support a hospice that cared for loved ones, or to cope with a recent diagnosis of a certain condition. But remember it doesn’t just have to be about money it could be about raising awareness and helping everyone affected have something positive to focus on.

There are supplementary benefits to running for a cause.

  • You can access a marathon place via the charity
  • People are more willing to give money and help in other ways
  • It helps motivate you with your training
  • You won’t want to let anyone down

I have raised money for Macmillan, Cancer Research, Great Ormond Street, Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, SUDEP and MAMA Academy (a very small charity), probably close to £20,000

4. Addressing Health Concerns

Now, this is a tricky one which may seem a bit controversial at first, but I wanted to include it because I think it is important that I am honest and upfront about the role of signing up to big fitness challenges in keeping me healthy. I have always said that if I didn’t have a race to train for I would never run. The fear of having a race coming up not only helps me to train, but also to focus on nutrition, and stretching and crosstraining.

After having my daughter and putting on 4 stone in weight and losing all of my fitness, I knew the only thing to focus my mind was to sign up for another marathon…and it worked.

There is a caveat to this though.

Weight loss is not the be all and end all when it comes to health, for me my cardio fitness, flexibility, strength and mental health are all part of this process too…it is not a matter of lose the weight by any means necessary. Crash dieting…nope. But mindful fuelling…yes, please….and learning to really tune into your body.

Weight loss is not a guarantee when it comes to marathon training anyway unless nutrition and mindset are well considered too. What I do know, for anyone reading this and wondering if weight loss is even necessary…well only you can make this call. I write more extensively about this in my book The Fat Girls Guide to Running, because I think there is somewhat of a misunderstanding regarding my views on this.

I do not believe ANYONE could or should run a marathon.

A marathon is a major challenge that needs to be respected. Basic science dictates that the lighter you are the less impact it will have on your body as you travel the 26.2 miles (not forgetting the hundreds of miles in training). It will also have a major impact on the time it takes for you to get around, and your enjoyability of the race.

My times and size at marathon races….

2012 – Size 14/16 – 5 hours 50 – And felt like I could have gone faster, loved every second of it

2014 – Size 16/18 – 5 hours 56 – Post baby, with recent back injury, it was bloody hard work

2015 – Size 18/20 – 6 hours 57 – One of the hardest races I’ve ever done

If you are serious about making changes to your lifestyle and habits and using the power of marathon training to make these changes, then why not give it a go?

5. As part of a Big Fat Stupid Goal

Sometimes the race is actually secondary to a wider goal. For me I wanted to run the London Marathon in 2012, as I was working on the London 2012 Olympics, so this was part of my whole experience of London at that stage in my life. My next challenge later this year is the New York City Marathon which again is less to do with running 26.2 miles, and more to do with the whole traveling experience…this one has been on my bucket list for 10 years and I got into the ballot first time lucky (much to my surprise)

Lots of people want to do London…like it is the only marathon worth doing in the UK…but trust me having taken part in lots of races all over the world, try to think more broadly and perhaps tie it into some other kind of adventure or experience. the more you make your race significant to you the better.

Perhaps tie it into a milestone birthday or to celebrate being cancer free, or to remember a loved one…or to prove someone wrong.

When it comes to Big Fat Stupid Goals you want to think about how this will help you grow exponentially, how it will change you as a person, what supplementary benefits you will get, and really start to visualise how you will feel once you accomplish it.

As runners we decide to train and run marathons for many reasons, it is what I love about lining up at the start of a big marathon…everyone has their own story. But one thing I would say is, despite our solo (and maybe even quite selfish) reasons for doing so, do not attempt to embark on this journey by yourself.

Get yourself a coach – I have just taken on a coach to oversee my training for NYC marathon and seek out support, advice, and accountability to support you through what is set to be a challenging, frustrating, yet enlightening time.

You can do this.

The question is,

Do you want to do this

Are you going to do this

Let me know, and give us a shout if you need some help along the way.

On September 1st I will open the doors to my annual Spring Marathon Training programme. A programme which has seen me coach and supports more than 100 women so far to run marathons around the UK and further beyond. Hosted in a closed FB group the programme will have weekly accountability, themed coaching, guest experts, group calls, downloadable plans and templates, a training plan clinic, in-person training days and meetups and much, much more.

The programme is currently available at a super early bird price of £59…and the price goes up on Friday.

Click here for more info

The post 5 Hard to Ignore Reasons to Run Your First Ever Marathon appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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A picture paints a thousand words right?

When I first started writing The Fat Girls Guide to Running it was anonymous and I never posted photos of myself for fear of judgement. A few years later though I realised I had to be brave and start posting photos.

Why?

Because having bigger bodies be visible in sport is so important…if we are going to dispel the myth that sport is only for slim women, or that having a larger body is something we should hide.

I am a real advocate for celebrating women in sport, and sometimes I come across photos that are so powerful I just want to share them. The lady in today’s guest blog post has found herself in a few of these over the years, the story behind this one is such an important one…so here it is…

Race photos when you are a plus sized runner are usually a sticky subject.  By their very nature they are unflattering: you are in lycra; you are exercising so may well be sweaty and out of breath; and if you are anything like me you will only spot the photographer once they have already taken the photo so don’t have a chance to smile or pose.

On the weekend of the 16th and 17th of June I took part in an event called Hope24, near Plymouth, where you complete as many 5 mile laps as you can or want as a solo runner or in teams.  I had heard good reports of the friendliness of the event and loved the ethos which was repeated on social media in the run up to it and over the weekend.

In their own words ‘it was never intended as a race, but as a festival, a social gathering of like-minded people.  Whether you are an elite runner or a beginner, your own challenge is against yourself.  Therefore, we support all our runners and motivate each other.’

Looking at the race photos a couple of days later I came across what is probably the most unflattering photograph of me I have ever seen.  By rights, I should really hate it and want it wiped from the face of the earth but you know what, I don’t, I actually really love it, it makes me giggle, I have shown it to numerous people and even shared it on Instagram.

The reason I actually love the horrendousness of this photo is because of what it means to me and the moment it was taken in. It was the end of my 6th 5 mile lap, I had completed 30 miles over the 24 hours.

I had set myself a target of 6 laps but almost stopped at 5 as it was going to rain, I was tired and just wanted to pack my tent up and drive the 90 mins to get home. For a change, I didn’t take the easy way out, with the encouraging messages of some friends from the Clubhouse (who had been messaging me keeping me company all weekend) I went out on my 6th lap.

Shortly after I started the lap the rain came down and I got soaked. When I came round and saw the finish line after 1hr 48mins of walking in the rain to my surprise I felt completely overwhelmed and I had to try really hard to not burst into tears.

I don’t think I realised the effect setting myself a goal and actually achieving it would have on me.

Last summer at Spitfire Scramble, a similar 24 hour event I attended as part of two TFTR teams (one of the most amazing weekends I have had with the inspiring warriors of the Clubhouse) I chickened out of doing a final lap for various reasons. Then later in the year I attempted to do the Loch Ness marathon, struggled early on and my head completely went and I pulled out at the half way mark.  Those two things have played on my mind ever since and really damaged my running confidence.

So I have decided to completely celebrate this photo. I am very proud of the person I see in that picture, it is me having dug deep, pushed myself and achieved my goal. I completed 30 miles (ultra distance) on my own, the last 5 miles in the rain, I was emotional, tired and wet and a complete badass!!

An absolute BADASS!!!!

Look out for tomorrows blog post about The Spitfire Scramble which Mandy took part in this weekend as a pair. This is Mandy at last years event…what a picture hey?

The post The Power of “Unflattering” Photos – By Mandy Gorton appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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I turned 40 this year.

The Big Four Zero!!!

Like where have the last 4 decades gone?

Well, I knew I wanted to do something big to mark this milestone but I wasn’t sure what. A party would have been a nice option but I didn’t have the time or energy to organise it…so instead, back in around February time, I suggested to some friends that we took a girlie holiday instead to Reykjavik in Iceland.

Now I love to travel, and I have a list of heaps of places I want to visit, but somehow I knew this would be right for this occasion.

Within a week we had booked flights and accommodation and were busy researching things to do.

And then life took over and I got super busy with triathlon training, trips to the states and the launching of new programmes, and I went a bit quiet in our Whatsapp Group…leaving the planning up to my friends.

Well let’s just say…the girls did good.

We arrived on Friday at around midday and went to pick up our hire car…yes we would be driving a minibus on the opposite side of the road in a country where the weather can change at the drop of a hat, driving to places we could barely pronounce, which were not always signposted…what could go wrong?

Our Air B&B apartment was lovely and I was looking forward to spending 4 days with my besties….four long days because there is pretty much no nighttime here this time of the year..this photo in Reyjkavic was taken close to midnight.

First on the agenda was a glacier walk…now I am not going to lie, I didn’t really think this one through. Someone suggested it, the photos looked great, and we could do it on the afternoon of day 1…so we went for it.

As they started kitting us out I think reality started to set in…harnesses and shoes with spikes (forgot the technical term) and an axe!!!

We headed off in a small group of around 12 towards the glacier.

Now I am never going to remember all of what our wonderful guide told us about the glacier, but it was super interesting and of course shocking to hear about the rate of which the glaciers are actually disappearing from the planet.

The hike was tough.

Physically, it was canning my already sore legs from the Paris Triathlon just 5 short days before…plus I had had some super busy days preparing for the trip.

But mentally it was also tough…I have watched too many films about people dying on mountains clearly.

We worked well as a team tough supporting each other on the 90 minute hike up to the top of the glacier, it was a little bit strange remembering that just 6 hours before we had been making our way to Luton to get on a flight, and here we were literally on top of the world.

I have reasonably adventurous friends, but this activity did take things to a whole new level…especially for my sister who was coping with her anxiety by making non stop jokes.

The hike was worth it though as right at the top we were met with breathtaking views, ice caves and tunnels, epic cravisis which seemed to fall into an ibis, and streams of the most delicious glacier water which we filled out bottles with up.

It feels so humbling to be able to see the world like this. To take time away from all of the noise and to just stop and look at what an incredible planet we live on.

This is one adventure I will never forget.

Here is a short video I made about the glacier hike (click on the image below for the video to play)

We did some other amazing things while we were in Iceland…we hiked to a remote waterfall in the rain, visited geezers (not the East End ones) and wild horses, and of course the blue lagoon thermal spas…

We even partied away the night with the Icelandic World Cup Football Team fresh off the plane from Russia…I did wonder why there were so many beautiful people in one place…plus you had to be a premiership footballer to afford the prices of alcohol in that place…£18 for a G&T…I swiftly switched to Icelandic Water…FREE from a jug at the end of the bar.

I am thinking a lot at the moment about what adventure actually means.

Is it climbing mountains, training for Triathlons and traveling the world?

Or is it something more attainable?

What if massive adventures simply are too far out of your reach? Isn’t there something for us all to take away…simply from an attitudinal point of view?

For me I feel like adventure is simply about leaping into the unknown, without having to have a clear picture of where you are going. Being able to trust in yourself to be out of your comfort zone because the rewards are so great.

Is there fear?

Yes, of course.

That’s what being outside of your comfort zone is all about.

Is there danger?

Yes quite possibly. (This might be the time to mention me proper falling over on my hike much to the hilarity of my friends)

But the sense of achievement and fulfillment when you fill your life with adventure no matter how big or small cannot be quantified.

And I want more of it.

Last week endurance athlete Susie Chan was encouraging me to sign up for the Marathon De Sables, today I got lost in videos about 100 mile races through the Colorado mountains…I can’t get enough…so many things to see and do, and I find myself asking myself two questions…

  1. I wonder if I could do this kind of stuff more often?
  2. What is it about these challenges that speaks to my soul

Anyway…I am putting it out there to the universe (and to anyone who is reading this that can hook me up) I am looking for more adventure, more extream events, more travel opportunities, potential backers, supporters and maybe even an agent to help me take my message to a global scale.

The message?

Life is too damn short to let your own insecurities or the judgement of others stop you from living an exciting, purpose-filled life, jammed packed full of adventure, challenge and fun.

A massive thank you to Jennie, Tasha, Natalie, Angie, Sue and Stacey for what truly was an experience of a life time. I am thinking Everest Base Camp next year? or Maybe the Great Wall of China? What do you reckon girls?

PS This was the waterfall we hiked in the rain for 3 hours to go and see.

Stunning right?

The post Climbing up Solheimajokull Glacier in Iceland appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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Have you ever had that terrible feeling in your gut like you have made the biggest mistake of your life?

Where fear, anxiety, and regret congregate in your brain and have you shaking your head in disbelief at your own stupidity?

Well, that was me on Sunday morning at 7am as I sat in a minibus full of super fit athletes as we carved our way through the streets of Paris in the early morning sunshine.

It was a glorious day.

If only I wasn’t about to attempt my first ever Olympic Distance Triathlon that is.

I got the invite just 6 weeks earlier.

Would I like to come out to Paris and take part in the event as part of a team put together by the sponsors Garmin.

What an opportunity? I thought.

Didn’t matter that I had only just learned to swim front crawl properly, didn’t have a bike and hadn’t really run since pulling out of the London Marathon back in April due to injury.

Yeah…I’m in

I replied in an email.

I must admit it forced me to get back into my training pretty sharply.

Paris Triathlon Training

I started religiously going to conditioning classes at CrossFit 1971 again (sometimes two in a week), I swam at least once a week taking my 1500 meter swim down from 1 hour 6 to 53 minutes, and I acquired a bike to train on courtesy of Decathlon…and not just any bike, this was a proper road bike and I started cycling it everywhere. Oh and I did a couple of parkruns too…even one on the morning of my recent Tedx talk in Folkestone.

So I did train.

But probably not as much as you should in advance of a race of this nature.

After a lovely day in Paris on Saturday with the other Garmin athletes, collecting our numbers and going on a lovely trip down the River Seine which involved sunshine yoga, champagne, and canapes…and then a carb fuelled dinner in a gorgeous roof top restaurant…I set my alarm for 6am on the Sunday to face my fate.

Race Day

I felt remarkably calm over breakfast.

For me the biggest fears were about the logistics, what to do when and where. I have only done one Triathlon and that was 12 years prior, it was a super sprint, I had months to prepare and all of the instructions were in English.

This time around I was clueless.

When we arrived at the start line it was bonkers. I think that is when it hit me…I was actually doing this.

I scanned the crowds to see if there was anyone who looked remotely like me….erm nope!! I looked like I had turned up by accident…OK so I had all the kit, but the look on my face must have given the game away that I was a novice.

We didn’t have much time…I set up my bike alongside endurance athlete Susie Chan and influencer Kerllen Bittencourt Rego, and then before I knew it we were walking the mile and a bit to the start.

It was proper surreal.

I went all kind of quiet.

We dumped our bags on the truck and then got into a big crowd as we moved closer and closer to the start. There were no real waves as such, just get into the canal when you got close and go.

It felt weird there not being like a “and we are off” moment, so instead Susie and I just squeezed hands and wished each other good luck before taking the plunge.

The Swim

The 1500 meter swim would be taking place in the Bassin de La Villette, a canal that runs through the city. There was an hour cut off, which I knew would be tight. Due to the hot weather conditions, wetsuits were not permitted, but the water was not as cold as I thought it might be.

Nothing prepared me for the weeds though.

The first 15 minutes of the race were truly shocking. The pure number of bodies thrashing about and the weeds made it next to impossible to swim front crawl. I couldn’t seem to find any space, and also couldn’t breathe. Well, thats how it felt. For a while I wondered if I would even be able to swim the whole distance. I had to have a few words with myself to just get on with it the best I could. Having done all front crawl in training I found myself doing breaststroke just so I could actually get moving.

You kind of need nerves of steel for Triathlon, with a field, predominantly made up of strapping men it was all a bit aggressive in the water, people swimming over you, and kicking you in the ribs as they passed. It sounds awful, but it was also a little exhilarating too. When I managed to find space I di switch to front crawl and felt strong. My fitness felt great and I didn’t tire at all. It was hard to see how far you had swum though as I had my Garmin on the wrong setting.

I didn’t think I had any chance of getting in under the hour, but as the finish area came into view I looked at my watch and it told me 52 minutes, so with space around me now I powered through the last couple of hundred meters, exiting the water in 56.18…to say I was chuffed was an understatement.

I felt a little shaky as I ran towards my bike, but I knew in many ways the hardest bit was over….or so I thought.

The Bike

I sat and put my trainers on and got some fluids in me in a 3 quarters empty transition area, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my stuff and I wasted a bit of time realising I had to bring my blue bag with me and my bike. In the end I spent around 5 minutes in transition. The first part of the bike ride was on cobbles…this was a little bit of a surprise, I had to concentrate quite a bit and was unable to build up any speed. But once onto the roads I was able to really start getting into the race…lucky I knew my left from right in french as I was able to listen for instructions from fellow competitors.

About 2K in there was a stonking hill. Now despite having a brilliant bike I still do not really understand the gears so went up it totally in the wrong gear…at one point I thought it might be easier to get off and walk. So my legs were sore and I was out of breath by the end of it…and I did for a moment wonder if the 40K was going to be out of my reach.

But then I really started to enjoy myself.

In training I was managing 10K blocks in 30 minutes, but I never managed more than 20K in a day and often split up as I used the bike to get to places rather than any big long rides. But I was able to find some real power somehow and was averaging 30K per hour speeds, and more on the downhills.

In many places around the course I was overtaking cyclists or keeping up with blokes with super impressive bikes who looked like proper cyclists. The route was lovely taking in the Bois de Boulogne and the Paris Racecourse and then as we looped back towards the city centre the Eiffel Tower…it was a wonderful moment to see that because I knew I wa son the home straight.

It had been a hot ride, and I had needed to take on fluid every 15-20 minutes but as I got off my bike at the end of the 40K I can remember thinking, gosh I could have gone on for more.

I managed to do the bike in 1.37.57

The Run

It took me a while to find my bike. I also picked up a yellow card for taking my helmet off before finding it (oooppps). By the time I left transition, it was very clear that I was at the back end of the race, it was now approaching 11.30 and the sun was incredibly hot.

I knew I had an hour and half or so left to go, and that I would need to pace myself and take on as much fluids as I could at the fuel stations, as I was now completely out.

I was bloody hot.

I was struggling to cool myself down as there was little shade.

I took on a run walk strategy running as much as I could and then walking for 60 seconds at a time whenever I needed to.

The run was two laps of a route around the river crossing a couple of bridges. The spectators were great with calls of Bravo and Courage. I was frustrated that I couldn’t have run more of it, because it was now a little lonely at the back and my motivation to keep running was being challenged. A few groups encouraged me to run with them as they passed and I tried to keep up for as long as possible.

The support from fellow participants was great, all the way around the course (well apart from the swim I guess ha ha)

After over an hour of running, I knew I was on the home straight, the roads were being reopened to traffic and tourists were going about their business posing for selfies and the like but I didn’t care. I was on a mission to get to the end.

The finish line was inside a sports club with a running track, and as I entered I was met by the PR lady taking care of us, and I ran as hard as I could for the line.

I had done it.

The Aftermath

It was still so hot though and I needed to get out of the sun. I stood in a marquee for a while trying to cool down, taking on some water. I then had the task of finding my team mates, and going to claim my bike and bags from the baggage truck.

I bumped into Susie on the way and we had a very excitable debrief about the race.

I was super impressed with my time.

4.10.01

Not bad for a first attempt I don’t think.

I was thinking it might have been closer to 5 hours, but the speedy cycle leg was my saving grace.

We sat in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower with a wonderful picnic (Although I was too fatigued to actually eat) and for once I was actually quite quiet….taking in what I had just achieved.

Stunned that I had done it.

And in my view, not just got round but actually competed.

I was also super excited at the prospect of doing another one, to have a more successful swim and run.

So what’s next?

Well, now a few days after the race, with no real soreness to speak of either I know I absolutely want to do another Olympic Distance Triathlon before the summer is out.

It would be silly to lose the momentum I have managed to build.

So I am looking for opportunities to get involved with some races here in the UK, and maybe training dependant maybe even move up to half ironman for next year…DID I REALLY JUST SAY THAT OUT LOUD?

Thinking BIG as always.

And so some Thank You’s

Firstly to Garmin for inviting me. I never will really understand my selection to the team. As I sat there at dinner with world champion cyclists, world record holding runners, and fitness influencers with hundreds and thousands of followers…I didn’t feel out of place, but I did feel a little bit humbled. You took great care of us, and the event will be one I remember for a long long time.

Also to Decathlon UK, I have been working alongside this brand for a few months and they have been incredibly supportive of my fitness challenges, helping me to find trainers earlier this year when no other brand seemed to be working, and then kitting me out with a new bike and all the accessories I needed to make this a reality. Triathlon is not a cheap sport, but Decathlon has made this a possibility for me….and my the look of how many people were kitted out in Decathlon kit at the event, their price point makes it affordable for many more too.

And finally a massive thank you to endurance athlete Susie Chan. She was so supportive over the weekend. Not only did we have a good old giggle together, but she also gave me some great advice about pursuing my endurance event goals in the future. So who knows, one day I may even attempt the Marathon De Sables and then I can say it was all her fault.

Check out this little video I made from footage I collected over the weekend

The post The Garmin Paris Triathlon Review appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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What would you talk about if you were given a platform to speak out to the world? Which one message would you want to share?

Do you even have something worth sharing?

Now I have always been an opinionated person.

I’ve always had something to say….just ask my Mum.

So it probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or watches me from afar that at some point I would put myself up to do a TEDx talk.

What you might find surprising though is I’ve always been quite fearful of public speaking.

Like seriously.

In my twenties, I would do anything to avoid having to talk in front of a crowd of people…I’d go all red-faced, I’d sweat and my voice would wobble all over the place if ever I had to.

Throughout my 30s though I worked as a project manager and consultant on the Olympics and I often had to give presentations and deliver training, and so it got a little easier, but I always suffered from nerves and also a bit of imposter syndrome, you know that feeling like you are kinda blagging it, and perhaps people shouldn’t take what you have to say too seriously.

Well…let me tell you, I have never felt as nervous as I did on Saturday standing in front of an audience of a hundred and fifty people in a theatre in Folkestone…knowing I had 15 minutes or so of time to fill with my idea worth sharing.

Especially knowing it would be filmed and the video could haunt me FOREVER!!!!

But before I share with it how it actually went, and when the talk will be ready for you to watch, I want to share 5 lessons from the process which you can use for any BIG goal.

Start to Visualise 

In December last year, I created a vision board of all the things I wanted to achieve in 2018. On it, I included a Tedx talk…I knew I wanted to do one, I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to put it out there as a goal and start visualising how doing one could complement other business and life goals for the year. I pinned the vision board next to my desk and looked at it daily. It didn’t take long for the opportunity to find its way to me when a friend forwarded me details of Tedx Folkestone who had an open application process for potential speakers.

Sign Up

One of the easiest ways to make your goals happen is to actually sign up for them. I know it sounds basic but so many women say to me, “I really want to do a half marathon” and I reply “well sign up for one then”. When I sent in my application back in January I had a very loose idea of what I wanted to speak about, but I didn’t worry too much about the talk itself because I knew I would have months to prepare and that there was a process to follow. We grow into big goals like this…the process of overcoming fear helps us to grow as people.

Trust the Process

When you sign up for a marathon, you don’t head out the following day to see if you can cover 26.2 miles, you basically sit down and work out a training plan right? So likewise, I knew the first time I attempted to write my talk I knew it would be nowhere near the finished one. If I had started panicking and second-guessing myself right at the start I wouldn’t have had the time or headspace to really work out what it was I truly wanted to say. The passage of time helps you to form and then reform your ideas.

Ask for help

You don’t have to do scary stuff by yourself. Get yourself a support team. I had all kinds of help over the last 6 months preparing from this. Support from the Tedx team in Folkestone, and my fellow speakers at the event. My speaker friends from The Professional Speaking Association, including the folk from the various business masterminds I am in. Also, I asked for feedback from my clients…the ones most aligned to the audience I wanted to impact with this talk. The thing with asking for help though, is you have to be willing to take feedback onboard, otherwise whats the point in having it….and let people go over and aboard for you, one of my awesome friends came down to Folkestone on the day to help me with a final rehearsal, she went over and above to support me, and it felt a little weird at first…but it was 100% what I needed.

And then finally and most importantly

Believe in yourself

Now baring all of the above, the bottom line is when it comes to your BIG GOALS…often you have to actually do them yourself. You will find a moment where you are like “This is it…its just me up here, nobody else can help me now” then you have to dig deep and fill your head with positive thoughts. You have to have faith in your own abilities to pull something out of the bag on the day no matter how nervous and unprepared you are.

So how did it go?

Well, I was last on out of 11 speakers, so the nerves had been building all day.

20 minutes before I was due to go on I managed to get makeup all over my white vest (luckily I bought a spare), my heart was racing and other than being able to remember my opening line my head was actually quite blank.

But I had been working on this talk for weeks, I have been working on the topic of this talk for years, and in many ways, I had been preparing for this moment my whole life…I know that sounds proper dramatic right? But its how I feel.

So I stood in the wings listening to the intro, took some deep breathes, did some last minute facial warm-ups and then I heard

Next up we have Julie Creffield with her talk Living A Bigger Life

And I stepped up onto the stage with a smile and positioned myself in the spotlight on the infamous small circular of red carpet.

And sorry my lovelies I simply can’t reveal what happened next…you will have to tune in next month for that!!!

The video recording from my talk won’t be available until the end of July, so you are going to have to wait until then to see how it went. Trust me I am as frustrated as you…I just want to see it NOW. My memory of how it all went is a bit patchy, it went by in a blur…there was laughter and lots of nodding from the audience who I could just about see…and I think I made most of the major points I wanted to cover…even if I didn’t keep exactly to script.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to share my views on the world in this way, but I am not going to lie…as scary as that day was, nothing compares to how nervous I am about letting the video out into the world. But this is what I signed up for right? I have set myself the lofty goal of getting 1 million women to watch my talk…because I know if 1 million women stopped dieting and instead started to love themselves, we could really start some momentum with radical self-love and the pursuit of big dreams, at whatever size you happen to be.

I will need your help to get this video seen by other women around the world. I can’t do it all by myself. So keep an eye out on social media over the next few weeks for ways you can help with this.

Ready to start living a BIGGER life yourself?

The next round of my Living a Bigger Life group coaching programme starts in September, and places are already filling up nicely. I also have 3 spaces for 121 clients. Check out my life coaching website www.juliecreffield.com for information about the programmes I run or drop me a line to julie@juliecreffield.com to start a discussion about how I might be able to support you.

The post Lessons from my recent Tedx talk appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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Do you ever get to a point in your life where you literally go…

How did I end up here?

It often happens when really really good stuff happens, or when you have hit rock bottom.

And of course on birthdays right?

This month I turned 40.

Four Zero…I know, I know???

For context, this means when I was born the following things had not been invented yet

  • Selfies
  • Wikipedia
  • Google
  • Fitness Trackers
  • Fruit Pouches
  • Febreeze
  • Facebook
  • Prozac

Now if that doesn’t make you feel old.

Like seriously…I have been alive for 4 decades, and a whole heap of shit in this world has changed.

Including me.

Its funny, when I was a teenager I thought that by the time I hit forty I would have my life all figured out, I’d be happily married, in a proper job, couple of kids on the go, a house I owned, a couple of holidays a year, maybe a semi-decent car, definitely a tidy wardrobe…wow I didn’t want much did I?

I didn’t want much at all in fact.

Well, my life at 40 doesn’t look like that at all really…and I’m not that fussed.

I think the biggest revelation though having hit that big milestone earlier this month is that although I still feel relatively young, like come one…I have so much I still want to do with my life, I still don’t feel much like an adult yet.

  • I hate washing up
  • I don’t like ironing clothes
  • I hate having to make big decisions
  • I hate having to read maps (or follow the sat nav)
  • Boys still stink
  • And I still begrudge paying for toilet paper

I wonder if any of that will ever change.

There has been one big shift though as I hit the 40 mark that I wasn’t quite expecting.

Other women warned me it was coming, but I wasn’t too sure.

The big revelation?

I don’t actually care what people think of me anymore.

I know that sounds flippant…and maybe I should care what some people think….and maybe I do when it is people I love and respect, or where I need to make a good impression for work or something.

But generally speaking, for people I don’t know, that will probably play no role in my life?

I couldn’t give a flying fuck.

And trust me I used to…oh how I used to. Every internet trolls comment, every Daily Mail article, every negative book review, every “but running should be free” email, I used to make it all so personal….but somehow I don’t really hear any of that unnecessary noise now….and its amazing.

My fear of judgement is minuscule compared to what it used to be.

Because there was a time where I second-guessed everything because I was absolutely crippled by the fear of people thinking badly of me.

I recently did a survey with over 100 women from my latest life coaching programme, and the stats were shocking

  • Less than 5% of the women interviewed liked the way they looked
  • 62% feel uncomfortable in social settings because of how they look
  • And worryingly 55% believed that how they looked held them back in life

For such a long time I felt like this too.

I was so critical about how I looked, and not only about my weight but my height, my teeth, my freckles, the mole on my face, my slightly wonky nose, my frizzy hair, my hit and miss dress sense…the list was endless.

The thing is though it’s exhausting.

Look I’m all for making the most of what you have, I like wearing nice clothes and having my nails done as much as the next woman, but this pursuit of perfection on top of the exhausting pursuit of smallness is just soul destroying.

And the reality is, even with all the will in the world, a wonderful stylist and extensive surgery, my looks are unlikely to change much anyway.

So I got to the point earlier this year where I was like,

NO MORE!!!

Look guys I can change the world or I can focus on making myself look better…I ain’t got the energy to do both

I mean I’m joking, well slightly…but I realised a good few months ago that the days of me giving a shit about being criticised for how I look are well and truly over, and in truth, I’m not even that fazed any more by what people think of my character or anything else they might have an opinion on….iI reckon much of that was connected to a fear of being judged by my size anyway.

People are going to think what they want to think, sadly once someone has formed an opinion it is very difficult to shift that anyway…so whats the point in even trying?

Surely the most important person to impress is yourself right?

And if not impress, then surely at least we should accept who we are and be OK with it.

So why this blog post today?

Well in a couple of hours I am hoping on a train to Folkestone where I will be giving a Tedx talk about the fear of judgement.

The irony is over the last few months as I prepared for what is quite a big moment in my life, I realised just how consumed I have been with that fear of judgement throughout my life, so many missed opportunities, or slightly ruined experiences because I was worried about how I looked or what strangers might or might not think of me.

Crying over blokes who were mean to me in bars, or girls who made bitchy comments…spending weeks analyzing a comment, or a look given by someone where you can’t quite work out its intent, always jumping to the negative outcome first.

On Saturday I will stand up in front of an audience of a few hundred and share my big idea worth sharing….and I will be judged.

A few weeks after that the video will be available on YouTube and I will share it with my followers…and I will be judged.

All being well the video will be shared a couple of thousand times more and fall into the hands of people I have never nor will ever meet…and I will be judged.

And seriously? I really do not care.

Judgement is simply a human trait.

We developed that trait as a survival mechanism to work out who was a friend and who was a foe.

And to some extent, it is still a useful tool.

But I am done with living my life to please other people.

I have got shit to do.

This blog came about because of my fear of judgement.

100%

I almost didn’t continue with the sport of running after some little kid shouted “Run Fatty Run” and his mates all laughed, and then again when I came dead last in a race and found the finish line gone, that was kind of embarrassing I can tell you…but the final straw was when a doctor told me I was too fat to run a marathon just days ahead of my second marathon.

He made that judgement purely on how I looked as I walked through his door.

There was nothing on my medical notes to say I shouldn’t run, not that he looked at them and if he had cared to ask me what training I had done, he would have known that I was actually in the best shape ever and on course to run a sub 5 hour marathon.

Today I read a twitter comment from a woman who run along a 5 minute stretch of road and had to endure numerous comments and car horns beeping, as she tried to mind her own business as she trained, what followed was literally hundreds of comments of women experiencing similar….do you know what that does to your confidence?

Do you know what goes through your head when you get that level of attention, are they mocking me, why are they laughing, what was it they actually even shouted out?

That fear of judgement is rife for women when it comes to sport.

What do we do?

Yes. The small-minded behavior and comments of some people (mainly idiots) needs to stop…but we also need to become more resilient and just think “Fuck Em” and get on with living our lives.

I can’t wait to share my talk with you.

I am no longer worrying about what other people think about it, I just want to do the topic justice and hopefully inspire women around the world to live BIGGER BOLDER lives, without the fear of being judged.

So watch this space.

Oh, and if you are on my email list, look out for an email later today about a special offer I have running this weekend only for my Living a Bigger Life Group Programme where you can get £200+ off the price of the 12-week course.

If you want further details drop me an email to julie@toofattorun.co.uk and I will try to respond ASAP

The post Why I really don’t care what people think of me anymore appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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People tell me all the time

Oh you must love running

To which I respond

No, I F**King hate it

Which often gets a laugh, but it’s true…well at least partly.

So to clarify…

  • I love what running has taught me about myself
  • I love the friends I have made
  • I love how it has allowed me to travel the world
  • I love the feeling of achieving a specific running goal

But…

The actual running?

Well, I have to admit that sometimes I don’t like it very much. I find it hard most of the time, often it is beyond frustrating, and at times I even find it boring.

Now that running in the evenings and at the weekends is more difficult than ever, I never seem to get any momentum.

And even though I have been running for more than 15 years…I have whole periods where I avoid it like the plague or do it because I have to.

Today, I found myself wanting to post on social media,

Hi I am Julie Creffield and it has been 8 days since my last run

And it had been 10 days between that and the one before, and possibly even more between that and the one prior.

It is not that I am not exercising, it’s just I am swimming and cycling more, plus fitting in CrossFit where I can and I have kinda lost my running mojo.

I know I am not alone in this, and many of my women go through dry spells when it comes to their running…so in an attempt to support them, and perhaps give myself a healthy kick up the backside here are my top 5 tips for rekindling your love with running.

Tip 1 – Sign up for a Race

This always works…if I am not training for something I never train, which is why I ALWAYS have races in the diary. But you have to go further than this. You have to keep the race front of mind and have specific performance related goals, otherwise it is still easy to slack off. I am running the New York London Marathon in November…so I need to get my finger out. Creating your own bespoke training plan can help you get excited (or frighten yourself into action)

Tip 2 – Run somewhere different

I get bored running the same routes, so go on a sightseeing run. Plan a route which you haven’t done in a while. Drive to a route, or get a train. Make it as part of a day out, run while on holiday even. I’m off to Reykjavik in a few weeks to celebrate my 40th with some friends…someone suggested we go for a run while there, so now I’m thinking I’d better be in good form otherwise I won’t want to do it.

Tip 3 – Wear your best kit

A new piece of kit is always a great incentive to get out the front door. Even organising your kit so you can see what you have can do the trick. It doesn’t even have to be brand new it can be new to you, there are some great second hand selling sites for running kit, and I always keep an eye out in the low-cost supermarkets for running week. Seriously even a new pair of running socks can do the trick for me.

Tip 4 – Run with others

For accountability let your running friends know you are in a slump. Ask them for some moral support, or even some practical support by running with you. Join a local running club, or get involved in parkrun…remind yourself about the social aspect of running. Even if the idea of getting out of bed early at the weekend doesn’t fill you with glee, having a post-run cuppa with friendly people might.

And finally

Tip 5 – Be kind to yourself

Often when we haven’t been running for a while we get into a bit of a slump. We compare our performances of past months to where we are now, we realise how much fitness we have lost, we lose our confidence to be visible again and think “What’s the point?”, the point is running is like having a husband…you don’t have to like him all of the time, things are not going to be plain sailing, sometimes you need a bit of a break (Maybe this is why I’m not married). Be kind to yourself. Take things slowly, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You will fall back in love eventually.

So for the purposes of accountability, I am going to head out for a little run with my friend on Sunday, and the following week I am going to commit to 2 runs. 

I am currently training for the Paris Triathlon, and need to be able to run 10K off the back of a 1500 meter swim, and a 40K cycle…so there is no avoiding it anymore.

Have you lost your running mojo? Fallen out of love with running? Never loved it in the first place, but would like to at least try? Why not join our online running club The Clubhouse? It is a great time to join, we are just about to start recruiting some regional coordinators to help with meetups and training days across the UK and wider afield and soon there will be the opportunity for you to train as a Too Fat to Run coach.

Memberships start from just £5 per month 

What you get is

  1. Accountability
  2. Support
  3. Friendship
  4. A Safe Space
  5. Running Opportunities
  6. Coaching
  7. A place to celebrate
  8. Laughter
  9. A place to offload
  10. Laughter

The post What to do when you fall out of love with running? appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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In today’s guest post we hear from Kate Sheard about the benefits of marshalling. 

My running journey officially started in July 2016 when I joined the Couch to 5K group at Sweatshop after completing the Whipsnade 10K in the June and decided I needed to do things properly. Since then I have been upping my distance and have completed 4 Half Marathons and lots of 10k and 5k races. I first discovered The Fat Girl’s Guide to running on Facebook and joined one of the TFTR teams at Spitfire Scramble last year and became a member of The Clubhouse in May, the group is so supportive and I have met loads of amazing warriors through it.

Marshalling giving something back

It was a very early start yesterday especially with the clocks going forward to collect my friend Sophia who was also volunteering and get to Race HQ for 8am. Our friend Rachel was doing the Bedford 20 race as part of her training for the London Marathon so we decided that as we were going to cheer her on we might as well go in an official capacity.

Once we arrived at Race HQ we signed in, received our free Bedford 20 hoodies and lunch, another reason for marshalling J  and made our way to the briefing to find out what we were doing. As I had worn my walking boots I was paired up with another outdoorsy looking lady to walk to the furthest marshal point. As we were going to be standing about for quite a few hours the 1.5 mile walk to our point was quite nice. I found out that Lorraine was part of the local running club and was there to support her friend who was also doing the race. I love the fact that we didn’t know each other but our joint interest of running connected us instantly.

We arrived at our marshal point and now all we had to do was wait for some runners. Our spot was fantastic we would see the runner four times. First we had to direct them left at about 1.5 miles then they would do a big loop and then see us again 3 miles later as they ran back the way they came. On the second loop they would see us at 10.5 miles and 13.5 miles.

The race started at 10am and we were expecting the first runners about 10.10am. The first man came through as expected he was super quick, followed by the other 880 runners, my friend passed me at 10.17am she gave me a big hug then continued on her way. As the runners made their way to us for the second time Lorraine and I split up to cover the two different directions of runners trying to encourage and congratulate them all.

There was a bit of a lull before we saw the runners for the third time enough time to eat our sandwiches. The first man was still at the front he made it look super easy and didn’t even look like he was struggling. It was interesting to see the change in positions, we were expecting to see some of the runners at certain times but they had dropped back maybe they had gone out too quick or others had just over taken them. My hands were hurting from clapping so it was time to get out the cow bell.

Sophia who was helping at the finish messaged me to say the first man finished in less than 2 hours most people were making their way back to us for the third time at this point.  Lorraine and I swapped positions I directed people left and she cheered them on and handed out my jelly babies as they came past at 13.5 miles. It was great when the runners interacted with us, saying thank you, smiling at us or just generally being silly it made our job much more fun.

The last lady and the tail bike passed us at 1.30pm so we stood down from our position and made our way back to Race HQ as we did we picked up all of discarded gel packets and water bottles.  It was such a nice walk back after my knees and legs had started to ache from standing in one position and it was actually really tiring clapping, shaking my cow bell and saying well done about 3000 times.

It was such fab day and a great experience for my first time as an official race marshal. I would highly recommend it and it was a privilege to be part of so many people’s running journeys and hopefully we made their day a bit more pleasant.  The 5 hour time limit (15 minute miles) made the race a lot more inclusive for the slower runners like me and looking at the results today someone did finish after the 5 hour limit. My friend Rachel did amazing finishing in just over 4 hours she’s looking strong for the London Marathon in a month.

Good Luck everyone training for those races and happy running!!!

If you would like to join our awesome community, get involved in our meetups and training days, and even become a Too Fat to Run coach or guest blogger why not consider joining The Clubhouse today.

Memberships start at just £5 per month. Find out more here

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So I guess you can gather that I am the kind of person who enjoys BIG challenges.

Nothing I do is ever small, or unassuming. I am always about pushing the barriers, stretching myself to the limits…seeing what my body, mind and spirit can achieve.

This often means BIG ADVENTURE, and sometimes, just sometimes it involves the two things I enjoy most,

Fitness Challenges and Travel

So you can imagine how excited I was a few weeks ago when I got an email from the guys who organise the Garmin Paris Triathlon asking if I would like to take part. By the time I had read the email I was already looking forward to the months of reacquainting myself with cycling, building on my swimming, and improving my running endurance…and then I read the email back and realised the event was only 6 weeks away.

6 WEEKS!!!!

Could I do it?

Well, I would give it a bloody good try.

And I would need some help.

So let’s recap on what is involved in this particular event and where my fitness was when I made the decision to say yes

The Swim

A 1500 meter swim in the Bassin de La Villette, which is the largest artificial lake in Paris.  This leg has to be finished in 1 hour…which is going to be quite challenging. In my recent Swimathon Challenge, I swam 1500 meters front crawl in 1 hour 6 minutes. I have since covered this distance twice more knocking off over 7 minutes….so my aim is to finish the swim in 45-50 minutes.

The Cycle

40km – An in-line course closed off to traffic in Paris from Bassin de La Villette…there is a 2 hour 30 minute cutoff for this part of the race. Now for this, I had no idea how long it would take me to ride 40K, as the only cycling I have done over the last 5 year is popping around town with Rose on the back and a basket on the front of my rather battered and heavy hybrid bike. But with a new bike in my possession, I realise it is currently taking me around 30 minutes to ride 10K so my target is to get as close to 2 hours for the ride as possible…as I do hope to see some improvement as I train and grow in confidence.

The Run

10km – And finally at the foot of the Eiffel Tower a little jog. To be quite honest at this point it will simply be a matter of finishing. It normally takes me around 75 minutes to run a 10K…I think on this occasion it might be closer to 90 minutes…but there is no cut off…apart from local Parisians needing to get to work the following day I guess.

So my decision was made. I would begin my training immediately and take part in my first triathlon since 2006.

First things first I needed a bike, and the wonderful folks at Decathlon kitted me out with the most delightful bike EVER. I am an official blogger for Decathlon and am really enjoying working with them. I have been a big fan and customer of their for a long time, but as an influencer, I love how inclusive they are as a brand, and how their focus on sport for all can really be seen.

This is my bike, who I have named Bella…much more fitting than Boris I reckon

I would tell you the spec and all of its wonderful features, but I know as much about bikes as I do about cars…which isn’t a lot. As long as they get me safely from A-B and look half decent I am happy. But I understand it is a REALLY good bike…and I have been getting some lustful looks around the streets of East London.

Anyway, after getting the full works in the store with the bike being adjusted and having all its bits and bobs installed by their expert team …I had to cycle the 11 kilometers home.

I’m not going to lie it wasn’t a walk in the park, but neither was it impossible. In fact later that day I popped back on the bike and ventured over to the Lee Valley Cycle Centre in the Olympic Park to inquire about a membership to use their road track….I even took the bike for a little spin, doing 2 laps of their one mile loop.

So I finished up Day 1 of having my new bike with 15 kilometres done.

I am now two weeks into my training and I am feeling amazing….a little sore at times, but amazing.

At the moment I am doing

  • 2 CrossFit conditioning or strength classes per week
  • 1 intensive swimming session
  • 1 5K run (may need to extend this a bit)
  • As much cycling as I can manage between work meetings and at the cycle centre.
  • And Yoga to keep everything stretched out

Moving forward I am going to start introducing some block sessions of swim to bike and bike to run. I also have a couple of long bike rides planned and an outdoor swim 1500meter event a week before the big day.

I also have some work to do to think about race day kit, logistics of getting everything to Paris (Luckily I can get the Eurostar) and also I guess race day nutrition…so this is the next thing on my list.

I know I haven’t had much time to train, but boy has it focussed my attention.

So watch this space for further training updates, and I will probably make a little video about my time in Paris in 4 weeks.

If anyone fancies joining me for some training over in East London then give me a shout…I am finding the cycling a little dull, but I have to start getting the longer miles in my legs pretty soon.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Garmin for supporting me to get out to Paris for this event, and also to Decathlon who seriously I could not do this challenge without. Check out their full range of bikes for all ages and abilities. It feels incredible to have two big brands like this supporting a plus size athlete like me to achieve her dreams….who knows one day it might be an IronMan in Hawaii…you heard it here first.

The post My next EPIC fitness challenge appeared first on The Fat Girls' Guide To Running.

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When I decided that I wanted to run the London Marathon back in 2005 nobody ever thought I would actually achieve it…perhaps even me.

I don’t even know why I initially wanted to do it…maybe it was because it felt like the BIGGEST thing you could do in the sport, an accomplishment that other people would get in terms of it’s scale.

All I knew was I had to do one.

What I didn’t know back then was how much Marathon Running would change me as a person, nor how many thousands (maybe millions) of women my marathon running would go on to inspire.

Because nobody signs up to run a marathon simply to inspire others…it is however often a bi-product of doing so….even more so if you run that marathon in a body that some believe doesn’t fit with the distance running stereotype.

So with the London Marathon 2018 done and dusted, and thoughts moving on to whether ANYONE will actually get in via the ballot for 2019…I wanted to take some time to celebrate an incredible woman who has inspired hundreds of thousands of runners with her marathon story.

I introduce to you Nikki Anderson…who is not only our Runner of the Month, but quite possibly our Runner of the Year for 2018.

Nikki hit the headlines (well at least in the running world) the day after London Marathon when it transpired that she had been verbally abused while making her way around the course. Despite being criticised for her weight, and the course being taken down around her, she continued towards the finish line, and received her medal…showing what pure determination looks like.

So let’s find out a little bit about her shall we?

We know you recently took part in the Virgin London Marathon this year, can you tell us about your experiences.   How did your training go?   What was your motivation?   What was your experience on the day?   Would you do it again?  

The training for VLM was hard as have major calf issues so was having to have sports massages regular on that area.  I did Julie Creffield’s Couch to 5k Programme, brought Julie’s Marathon book, the yellow one (The Fat Girls Guide to Marathon Running), to mentally prepare me and get some tips.

For my training did Parkrun and local training at track, gym, sessions of swimming and of course running.

I did a half marathon at Victoria park and my calf hugely played up and didn’t fuel right so that worried me about VLM.

VLM has always been my nemesis I had pleurisy in 2014 and still decided to take part in the VLM then. But I collapsed about 6 miles in, I was so clueless to what a marathon entailed.  Victa had kindly given me a charity place for a further VLM but I had issues with my ears and had to defer. So when I knew I was healthier and a bit lighter. I applied again via Victa charity and got a place with my best friend Emma, as both our children have coloboma.

My Lillie has bilateral iris and retina coloboma and optic nerve coloboma of the left eye as well as various other health issues. She’s my WHY and the reason I chose Victa as my charity.  She doesn’t give up and the reason I didn’t give up even after 10hrs out on the VLM course.  She never gives up and nor was I going to.

So running VLM 2018 was special and Emma and I were going to running together. Sadly only an hour or so before she was due to get an over-night coach to London one of her twins had an accident and needed an operation on marathon day.  I tried to get my mind set of doing it alone I needed to clear my head and just think get to that finish and do it for both of us. Her timing chip I put in my bra so she was with me in spirit.

On the day it’s self OMG how hot was it, I burnt to a crisp there was a lack of water from the course itself from mile 7 onwards no Lucozade either.  After my knee went I was surprised as  I expected my calves to cause me issues not my knees.

I said to my cheer squad meet me at mile 6 told them Bermondsey Station little did I know that was around mile 11/12 and boy at mile 9 I started to hit the wall I spoke to Emma on the phone she was like keep going spoke to Jayne and Debi other friends they encouraged me so much.

People were giving out sweets ice cubes and ice lollies. That kept me going and then I see my friends fighting back the tears because I thought if I break now I won’t carry on. They walked with me over tower bridge and that spurred me on. I have refuelled on food water and Lucozade. Carried on the marshals were telling us you are going to have to start walking on the pavements soon I was like grrr.

Got to Canary Wharf about mile14/15 has abused shouted at me, I thought ignore it carry on one foot in front of the other another lady called Celena had got abused verbally by the men as well.  She was slightly in front. I caught up to her and she was like fancy some company I said yes as up to this point was very lonely and would pass the time quicker too and could support each other.

Then no mile markers so we were trying to work our way out to mile 18 where my cheer squad were again waiting for a gin and lemonade. Went to the toilet and back off again.

Mile 21/22 were my wall and omg it then hit me I wanted to sit down and just stop Celena became a huge help and got me through glucose tablets to get me to the end next stop mile 25 and again my cheer squad Jayne and Mike and their little one Charlie and they walked with me the last mile and we crossed the line together.

I didn’t get the huge rush of emotions that people talk about I was like I need to sit down and we had to wait about 30 mins for medal and goodie bag I didn’t care I was waiting for what I’d work so hard for. Also as I crossed the line friends had donated taking me over the £5000 target I’d set for charity.

Would I do it again?  I was messaging Emma saying I don’t know if I can even do the New York marathon in November.

But this week I’ve reapplied to charities and entered the ballot for 2019 and hopefully I will be better prepared and lose more weight so it’s easier on my body.

Do you have any running goals for the future? 

The VLM was my ultimate goal and to finish it whatever it took. I now have the New York marathon to look forward to in November and hopefully VLM 2019.

I didn’t really do anything apart from horse riding when I was younger. Never if you would have told my 16yr old self you will complete a marathon I would have said f##k off – lol

Love that when you run you can clear your head space.  Hate the injuries especially being a bigger lady it puts more of a strain on your body I think.

We know you are part of the Barking and Dagenham TFTR? Group.  What have your experiences been with this group?

The group is very welcoming and make you feel at home I’d advise anyone to do join.

We have recently put 18 local women through England Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness Programme so that they can begin to lead  inclusive and accessible running clubs in the area

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running?

Yes and normally I stick 2 fingers up, unlike when I was in the marathon I had a charity vest on and I’m representing them so kept my mouth shut. The world is full of small minded idiots but they just drive me to carry on.

I think the local governments could fund more running clubs but ultimately it is down to the individual to be in a mindset of wanting to get out there. The hardest step is actually putting your foot out the door. But you won’t get anything done from your sofa weather you start off walking just to just get out is a massive start.

How has being a member of the Clubhouse helped you in any way, if so how?

The clubhouse where do I even start these woman are warriors and have and give so much support to each other. I have experience of this on marathon day, they didn’t leave their phones until they knew I’d crossed the finish line. It is a safe place to air concerns and to make ourselves accountable with no judgement just love and support I’m glad I joined

Get out there don’t let your fears hold you back. Get a gait analysis done find some running gear make sure you have a few bits so you cannot use the excuse of no clean kit. And just open the door and go.

If you would like to join our online running club, The Clubhouse, full of hundreds of incredible women just like Nikki, memberships start from just £5 per month.

Find out more here

What surprised me about Nikki, was at how surprised she was that her story touched so many people. The post I initially wrote about her experiences “Too Fat to Run at the London Marathon 2018″ got over 100,000 views…on social media she received over 300K comments, shares or responses.

It is not OK to fat shame someone who is running a marathon and Nikki will have inspired so many people with her display of perseverance and grit while raising money for an incredible charity.

As a small token of my appreciation, I would like to gift Nikki a place on my Living a Bigger Life Mastermind which starts in a couple of weeks.

What I have learned over the last few years is just how important it is for us as women to see women that look just like us achieving amazing things. It gives us hope. It calls us out on our own bullshit. It shows what is possible.

In June I am giving a TEDx talk on the concept of Living a Bigger Life, and I will also be bringing out a new book on this topic. I also have an exciting new project up my sleeve to involve as many women as possible on this adventure with me….so watch this space.

In the meantime the Early bird price for my transformational Living a Bigger Life group programme finishes today, I would love to work with you over the next 3 months to help you achieve your Big Fat Inspiring Goal this year.

Click here to find out more.

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