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So throughout the month, we have been featuring women from our online community via our Too Fat to Run? Blogger Takeover. I have loved being able to showcase the range of brilliant women we have in our ranks, so much so we are going to continue with guest bloggers on an ongoing basis. But as we approach the end of the month it is time to feature someone special in our runner of the month segment. This month we freature Noreen McConnachie, 39 from Elgin in Scotland.

Noreen Photo 1

When did you start running and why?  I have been a member of TFTR since December 2016 but I didn’t start running properly until April 2017. I started running for health reasons and also because I was in a stressful job and needed something to focus on other than work. I started with a C25K plan but became ill in the first 3 months of 2017 so by April I was thoroughly fed up and just went to a parkrun after no running for 3 months. I surprised myself by managing to run the whole thing and gave myself the motivation to keep going. It was a very emotional parkrun for me, I was near tears at the end especially when a lady overtook me and she was walking but I have stuck at it.

Did you run a lot when you were younger? I avoided running at all costs. I feared the embarrassment of people I knew seeing me and there was a lot less running groups and clubs in my area for support. I cycled a lot as a teenager but after leaving school I didn’t really do a lot of exercise of any kind.

What do you love and hate about the sport of running? I love the encouragement I get. I really thought there would be a lot of pointing and laughing but soon found that not to be the case. I have even had messages from friends who have seen my posts on facebook saying that I have inspired them! I never thought I could ever be an inspiration to anyone. I think the only thing I hate about it is when I cant do it. I tore a calf muscle last year and I was out of action for 2 weeks, also the weather has held me back. I am terrified of slipping and falling on ice.

How often do you run? I try to run 3 times a week. Once with a running club, once at parkrun and one on my own. I cant always manage that but I do other things as well. I go to a personal trainer once a week who is a runner so she understands what I need and I also go to her bootcamp class as well. I feel it all helps with my running.

What kind of distances do you run in training? I have started training for my first half marathon and have been trying to up my mileage each week by 1km at a time. My last long run was 11km. I missed last weekends long run as I tweaked my back at work but I have time to catch up. On other days I try to do 5km at least and use what I have learned in the SCREAM program to improve on that.

Do you parkrun?  I go to Elgin Parkrun but this weekend I will be a Parkrun tourist in Aberdeen as I am traveling through there that day anyway.

Tell us about any upcoming challenges?  I haven’t done a marathon yet but I have one planned for September 4 days before my 40th birthday.

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running? The only negative experiences have been with dog walkers. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs but I hate owners who let their dogs jump all over me when I am trying to get a run in. One woman in particular had 2 dogs with her and they started jumping all over me and when I turned to look at her she was just standing there. I had to ask her to call them away from me. I now avoid dog walkers and if I see one coming towards me I turn around and go the other way. If I have ever been heckled while running I wouldn’t know. I have my earphones in and my music loud.

What are your biggest fears or hangups about being a plus sized runner? My biggest concern is always events with cut off times even when I know I can do it within that time. I also think having a cut off time puts off people just starting out to give it a go or make them feel they are not good enough if they cant do it in that time. I still have hangups about running on my own and I used to run with my head down but I have made myself hold my head high. I also fear running when I am away working when I don’t know the area so I try to find a local Jogscotland group to run with wherever I am.

Photo on 05-11-2017 at 22.11 #2What is your ultimate running goal and what is stopping you from getting there? I don’t really have an ultimate running goal as it feels like it’s a finish line and what will I do when I get there? I don’t want to be super fast or run a marathon every week or anything but I do want to be able to say I have completed a marathon someday. I just like getting out there. I don’t get too obsessed with times or anything. I just use that information to see that I am improving and that I can do it. I always said I would never run more than 10k then I read Julies book “The Fat Girls Guide to marathon Running” and before I knew it, I had signed up for a marathon so who knows what I will get up to next. Sometimes I don’t even know.

What’s more important to you and why? Frequency, running or distance of running? Running is more important to me. Just getting out there and doing it no matter the distance. Sometimes I only run a mile but it’s a run and I got up off my backside and did that mile even when I didn’t want to and I can be proud of myself for that.

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? For me its not enough to say its suitable for all abilities, I have to see it for myself. I just joined a new running group and looked through 100’s of photos looking for someone about my size and looked through a number of race events times to find the slowest time and didn’t seem inclusive to me at all. It could be that this group is seen by many as a fast group and hasn’t appealed to plus size runners or beginners. Maybe seeing me in some of their future photos might encourage others like me to join. It is the same for any group, event or activity for me. If they all look athletic and fit in the photos it puts me off joining.

What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women? I think its confidence. Having the confidence in themselves to get out there and make a start. Having the confidence to go out even though people might see them. I also think its hard for plus sized women to feel like they fit in. At any event there is not a lot of plus sized runners which can sometimes make me feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I have found though that the TFTR t-shirts have been conversation starters at a lot of events and my “running has no size” one got special mention by the commentator at the Baxters 10k in Inverness last year. Running really does have no size.

Noreen Photo 2 ParkRunWhat would you say to other runners just starting out? Keep at it. You will hate it at the start, maybe even think you are no good at it and cant do it but you absolutely can. Join a local group or start with a friend. Running with others can really help to motivate and support you.

What have you learned about yourself through running? I have learned that there was a confident, out going and determined person inside of me. She just needed to be let out. When I think about what I was like in the beginning to what I am like now there is such a massive difference that it is like being someone else entirely.

How has being a member of the Clubhouse helped you in any way, if so how? The support in the clubhouse is what keeps me going. I can post about anything or ask any question and always get help, advice or encouragement and it has kept me going. The clubhouse women are amazing and feels like a kind of a family. It feels like I am not alone when I run because whether I post before, during or after a run I have a team cheering me on all the way.

If you would like to join Noreen and a bunch of other awesome runners just like her, sign up to our online running club The ClubhouseBy becoming a member you could also become a guest blogger and be part of this wonderful community that inspires other women wherever you go.

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