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Continuing with our Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse member guest blogging, in today’s blog we hear from Jennie Wood…who I was lucky enough to meet at Shipley parkrun a few weekends ago when I was visiting friends in Derby….she even bought me breakfast after, as I had forgotten my purse (yeah that old chestnut)

I am 41 with 2 small children, and although I used to run when I was younger I hadn’t done any running for many years. A few years ago my children wanted to do park run, and needed someone to run/walk with them so I thought why not! Well they loved it, and we have been going every week since. They need someone to run with them and so we got better and faster together. It changed from a walk and circle the trees and catch the caterpillars to wanting to run more and more and I needed to do extra training to be able to keep up.

I started running again for myself and loving it, I started doing aduIt park run and they started to ask to volunteer as marshals on days when I couldn’t run because their Dad was away. I found the clubhouse through a “for the love of running course” that I almost dared myself to sign up for and have been slowly getting better since. It is really important to me that my children see adult exercising as fun and for happiness and wellbeing and not for weight loss or as a result of self hate. My running also helps me have a moments break from the complex issues that surround my daughter and her care and to feel like a person again not just a mum.

The clubhouse really helps me to realise I am a runner and I am allowed to think of myself as a runner and not apologise for it. I might not be fast, I might wobble when I run, it might not be as far as some, or as fast as some – but I am a runner and running makes me happy.

So…Injuries, Zombies and Staying Sane

Every so often live throws a curve ball, and injuries get in the way of doing what you love. If you are lucky it is something that will heal quickly, if you aren’t so lucky and end up with something that takes you out of your training plan and stops you joining in, here are my top tips for staying sane and motivated!

I am currently recovering from a slipped disc and ruptured ligament with complications which happened just as I managed to get up to running my 5km and properly screwed up all the dreams I had worked so hard to get ready for, my 5km races where gone, the training plan I had to train up over winter to try my first 10km race in the summer were in bits and I am faced with a non specified time of what the doctor calls “resting and recovering”! yeah right how much of that happens when you have 2 small children and a job!

At this point you have 2 choices really, its very easy to throw in the towel, say its obviously not for you, and give up – but that would be wasting all those hours of trying, all those hours of lugging a lycra clad bum round park runs being the last in, and slowly, slowly being able to do more running than walking! If you throw it in and say you will come back to it later, if you are anything like me, life will regroup round the time you had painfully etched out of the schedule to be your running time, the kids will find things they want to do at that time, the kids will get faster on their park run until their speed seems impossible, and suddenly you are back to that first stage again where everything is over whelming, you don’t know anyone and it’s a scary first step to start again. And then that first step may never happen again. Or you can stick your heels in the mud and try to hang onto as much as possible, so when you finally get the ok to go not everything is lost, and what you have lost in fitness is compensated for by what you have gained in that time in confidence, comradery and knowledge!

Well I have stuck my feet well and truly in, and I am not giving up, I am not giving in, and I will be back again and I will run my 5km again and my 10km eventually. In the meantime these are my top tips!!

  1. Don’t hide from the running/fitness world.Stay involved, encourage others, volunteer, read about it, celebrate others victories with them. This can be hard when it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth, but be positive you will be back! Once you change your mind set from “woe is me” to yay for you” you can be positive about the running again, and join in other ways so its not a “not me” it’s more of a “it will be me soon”. Positive attitude, honestly a game changer, but hard to do.
  2. Find your tribe!!!Lots of knowing sociologists rave about this, but its true, find the folks that get you, support you, and still want to know you even though you aren’t running right now. Join in, learn from them, pick their brains and generally just have someone who gets you are climbing the walls in frustration, and who will be there to encourage you when you start to inch back to the running again. Also great way to get run reviews and tips so when (and yes I mean when, not if) you do those races you have the insider knowledge. For me that’s easy as I’m in the clubhouse and its ace!
  3. Work out with the help of whatever medical team are involved what you can safely still do. If you are off your feet can you work your arms? If you cant run, can you still walk? If its no impact, can you do exercises on a cross trainer or trampette? Etc…. this requires having a bit of a chat with the doctor/physio etc and being creative to come up with a plan and adapting things to suit. Be your own advocate, actively ask about this. I did the Christmas count down challenge this year, adapting some of the challenges to suit the fact that I couldn’t bend or move much, but I could still do a lot of things and joining in properly cheered me up and got me enthusiastic again. (I won some amazing leggings too!) Or most virtual races you accumulate miles over the course of the month and you can run or walk them, so can be built up to one trip to the end of the road at a time.
  4. Find things to make it fun.I have discovered zombie runner app – I can run/walk on trampette at home in small chunks, while chasing zombies, doing life saving missions and saving the world. When im really mad the zombies get punched in hit style work outs too. I cant pound the pavements but I sure as heck can still pound zombies. I can set on the map in real life where im going to walk to and go reclaim a supply drop for a decimated zombie infested village while walking the dog and taking the kids to the playground! Anyhow you get the idea its something that keeps me interested and going, while stuck trying to exercise without looking at the washing up that needs doing in my kitchen. This is helping keep some of the aerobic fitness I worked so hard for, so hopefully it’ll not be so hard again when I’m finally allowed out to run. Others swear by less violent things like yoga, pilates, aqua jog etc to help keep moving and adapt around the injuries they have! Whatever suits!
  5. Be realistic and don’t rush back in at break neck speed.Frustrating though it is, if you aren’t realistic you will probably get hurt again or be very disappointed. So instead of saying I will do this race on this date and face being heart broken that it doesn’t happen or you aren’t fit enough or mobile enough for it, why not suss out lots of different options for your first race back spread over a time period, and work out in advance (with medical input if needed) a sensible plan to re start things, and set yourself targets for how well things need to be going before you will enter anything. This gives you sensible positive targets to aim for and things to plan round and a way of seeing how you will be up and going again. (It’s that positive thinking again). Use the knowledge of your running tribe to help, and to make you accountable for building up gradually, not diving in head first when there’s no water in the pool. Amazing how having supportive understanding people to be accountable to makes you be good!

And most importantly – don’t give up on your dreams.

Whatever injury you are nursing I hope you are up and about again soon. And if you are reading this and you aren’t injured I hope it’s helped give some suggestions of how you can support your injured friends so they don’t give up on being a runner, cause once people give up they may never come back for another try and forever miss out on all the benefits and enjoyment it can bring.

I aim to be back running on something other than a trampette in the summer (ish), my first 5km might be in September or it might be December, but I will get there, one zombie at a time, I will do my 10km eventually and I’ve sussed out which ones I fancy. My physio despairs at me, my local park run have helped me to almost a volunteering t shirt which I will wear with pride, and my kids still see me exercising and still think it’s normal to exercise for fun and happiness – which is such an important message for them and one of the main reasons I began running in the first place. In the mean time I’d like to thank my running tribe in The Clubhouse for keeping me sane, engaged and positive while I wait for my body to catch up with what my mind and my ambition want to achieve. Onwards and upwards! J

What great advice. If you would like to join Jennie in 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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