17km of 21km Feb 2016

I am sooooo excited about our upcoming Health & Happiness Retreat taking place in Pefkos Greece in less than 6 weeks time so I thought it’s only right to introduce you fully to Elizabeth Cass Kanti who is our fabulous retreat host while out there. You may remember she kindly invited me out to Pefkos with my family for a holiday last year, and thats when our scheming began.

Tell us a bit about you. My name is Elizabeth Cass-Kanti (but everyone calls me ‘Cass’.  Except my mum.  She calls me Liz or Elizabeth if she’s cross.) I am a 45 year old size 16 runner with two teenage daughters and I live in Rhodes, which is an island in Greece

When did you start running and why?  December 27th 2013.  I was post-Christmas bloated and couldn’t wait for the gym to open in January.  I’d had the ‘couch to 5k’ app on my phone for a couple years, but never used it.  As I was lacing up my trainers my daughter, who was 12 at the time, said ‘I’m coming with you’.  And off we went.  If it hadn’t been for her I probably wouldn’t have got past week 2.  One of the most poignant moments was running, non stop, for 20 minutes for the first time.  Another was participating in a 5km race which we had to travel all the way to Thessaloniki in the North of Greece.  Partly because there were no events locally and partly because my daughter insisted on going somewhere where no one would know us!  It was a super experience and completing it with her was just the icing on the cake.finishig line

Did you run a lot when you were younger?   I vaguely remember a bit of cross country and being on the hockey team.  I can remember running once when I was a teenager and I must have pushed myself quite hard because I distinctly remember a euphoria which completely freaked me out.  I don’t think I ran again after that!

What do you love and hate about the sport of running?  I love the meditative, mind-clearing zone that a long distance run brings you. That clarity of thinking, those little light bulb moments and those huge self-revelations.  Physically I love that creeping feeling of euphoria and strength as you approach 3km (we wont talk about the first 2km’s)  and the warm sensation in your legs at the end of a run.  I love the community spirit amoung runners and the support that runners give to each other, regardless of what stage of their running journey that they are in.  This has been particularly apparent to me from being a member of the clubhouse.  As well as running issues, every now and then, someone can even let off steam about something non-running related or just ask for a bit of support and in it flows! It’s like being a member of a tribe – they really have your back!  I really love the way running has changed my body.  No weightloss to speak of, but shape, muscles, strength and a mental strength.  I even love how when listing my ‘loves’ to you that the aesthetics came last.  That’s how running changed my life and mental attitude.  Amoung many things, it taught me self-love.

I hate bad runs.  Yes, I know I still got out there and did something.  But I still hate them. Oh, and hills.  Hate hills.

How often do you run? 3 times a week 

What kind of distances do you run in training?  That depends if I can get past that 3rd kilometer! At the moment I am training for the Roads to Rhodes marathon on April 17th so I do 2 midweek runs where I go by time/effort rather than distance.  These can be between 4 and 8 kms.  Then on a Sunday I do my long run.  I’m up to 21km which is the furthest I have ever run (I did a half marathon back in October) so next week I am in uncharted territory!

Do you parkrun? (if so which one)  I signed up for the Preston park run when I visited my Mum last year, but chickened out when someone told me it was a huge hill (my nemesis).  We don’t have any parks in Rhodes and no organized weekly run.  A couple of times a year they have a race in the moat around the old town in Rhodes.  I avoid this.  It’s a magic moat, whichever end you come in from its uphill.  How is that even possible?  It’s like something out of Harry potter.  So no, no park runs or moat runs for me.

We know you recently took part in a Half Marathon, could you tell us about your experiences with training, motivation etc.  My training had its high’s and low’s.  Now I know this is normal, but at the time the low’s freaked me out.  Blogging about it helped to put everything into perspective and having a written record of it to look back on is a treasure. It is as much a mental journey as a physical one, I would even say spiritual.  I am not a particularly organized or disciplined person and as I entered my forties I believed I would never attain these characteristics, but training for a half marathon you need both skills in bucket loads.  Fitting a running schedule into a hectic daily life is one thing, but dealing with exhaustion as well brings a whole extra dimension.  Planning nutrition and sticking to the plan was definitely worthwhile, but what a load of work!  I swear by kefir, a fermented milk drink which is high in nutrients and probiotics, and incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health.  After all, what’s the point of eating healthily if your gut can’t absorb all that amazing nutrition you are slavishly feeding it

My motivation came from my lovely daughters who supported me and encouraged me all the way.  I really wanted to show them, as well as myself, that when you put your mind to something you want to achieve, anything is possible.  If I could take just two things from training and give them to the world it would be; face your fears.  More often the fear of fear is greater than the fear itself and the second thing would be: take hold of your overwhelm and divide it up into manageable pieces then tackle them one at a time.  These are both things that carry me through my  marathon training.  I’m not running 42 km’s, I’m running 10 and 10 and 10 and 10 (the last 2 don’t count, what’s another 2?)  It’s ok, it makes sense to me!

IMG_8676Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running?  Yes – a post 10k running fog made me lose my glasses and I did suffer terrible muscle spasms in my lower inside legs for far longer than was necessary because I was afraid to visit the physio.

We also had a bit of an odd experience  together while running together last year finding a girl sleeping by the side of the road, but it all worked out in the end

What are your biggest fears about being a plus sized runner?  I have mostly been a solitary runner, so my size never concerned me.  I wasn’t running in a club or group where I had other bodies to compare myself with.  I would like to lose weight to make myself a better runner, but it doesn’t overwhelm me or make me  give up wine and crisps.  I don’t think about being a plus sized anything until I get in front of a mirror at the gym.  However I am doing my long runs at the moment with 2 skinny minnies.  It has crossed my mind what we must all like from behind – my behind in particular!  But do you know what, who cares?

What is your ultimate running goal and what’s stopping you from getting there?   I like the idea of a triathlon, but I have issues about swimming without a mask and I haven’t ridden a bike for years.  Like I said, I like the idea.  Of course an ultra marathon is out there.  And I want to run barefoot, which out of the three things I have mentioned is the only one I have given serious thought to.  I have a vague plan to tackle this after the marathon.  There is absolutely nothing stopping me from doing any of these things, apart from not owning a bike and the swimming thing.  But I will find a way if I need to.

What’s more important to you and why? Frequency, running or distance of running?  At the moment its distance, but that’s because of marathon training.  Generally it’s none of the above.  The most important thing is to enjoy it, hopefully injury free!

What could the government, local authorities, sports clubs etc do to encourage more people to take up running and sport, especially overweight and inactive women?  Positive role models such as Julie and the TFTR movement should be funded and supported by local authorities.  Imagine a ‘Jog TFTR’ group in every town, like a Jog Scotland.  If you could take that positive vibe from the clubhouse and put it into practice in such a physical, practical way – us fatties would have the world sorted.  Free childcare facilities should also be offered as I think this must be one of the most restricting factors for mothers.  It’s incredible to think that the medical profession know that running is an effective anti depressant, that combined with diet it’s the biggest calorie burning exercise anyone can do and yet they aren’t breaking their necks to encourage people to get their trainers on?

What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women?  I haven’t really given this a lot of thought.  Would I be too flippant to say that barriers only exist in your own mind?

What would you say to other runners just starting out?  Good on you!  Stick with it, have patience and celebrate every step. Oh and get some  friends that run because your friends that don’t run will NOT put up with you banging on about it forever.

first 5 kWhat have you learned about yourself through running?  A zillion wonderful things and a couple of uncomfortable truths too (there’s a lot of time for introspection on a 3 hour run!)   I’m stronger than I think I am, more focused than I believed I ever could be and that I like ‘throwing some shapes’ while I’m running.

How has being a member of the Clubhouse helped you in any way, if so how?  The clubhouse is a fountain of experience, knowledge and positivity, with like minded and (like bodied) women who all have one goal.  To run.  It doesn’t matter how far or how fast.  If you have doubts, take them to the clubhouse to be slain.  The women are inspiring and motivating.  Ordinary women being extraordinary.

What are you most looking forward to about our retreat

Getting to see Julie and Donna (the Hypnotherapist) in action with the 12 ladies we host, and basically showing off the amazing island of Rhodes. We have an amazing week of activities planned, and a few surprises up our sleeves and I know the women are really going to get a lot from the week. I can’t wait.

SpringRetreat

I think you will agree Cass  is a pretty amazing woman hey? If you know someone who deserves a bit of recognition like this, please drop us a line at help@toofattorun.co.uk with Runner of the Month in the header

If you would like to join Cass and 160 odd other awesome women in our unique online running club then check out this page for more details about how The Clubhouse works.

We are currently undergoing a review and revamp to bring in a range of additional experts and you will be able to join from early April…so keep your eyes peeled for an update.

We still have a few places left on our retreat, but get in there quick. If you feel like you have been neglecting yourself recently and want some time away from everything to refocus on your health and happiness goals, then this is the retreat for you. There will be some running, but there will be walking/hiking options too, so drop us a line julie@toofattorun.co.uk if you need more info or check out our retreat page

Imagine spending relaxed evenings here with a glass of wine and group of awesome women contemplating your next big health and fitness goals?

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