September 29, 2014
As I cycled towards West Ham station this saturday morning I was a little apprehensive about the day ahead, the first Fat Girl Run Clinic back in June had been such a resounding success I worried that this one for some reason would be a disaster. It had been harder this time to fill the spaces and I had also had some last-minute drop outs so I knew the group would be smaller than before, but would the day be as rewarding? Only time would tell.
At 9.05am I spotted the group of ladies all in their running gear chatting happily to one another, everyone had arrived on time which was a good sign so without a moment to spare they were given their warm up challenge, a twenty-minute run walk to the Too Fat to Run HQ and sent on their way.
I raced through the back streets of Stratford on my bicycle hoping to beat them back, last time I had waited for the last pair and ran back myself arriving back a little flustered, my fitness at the moment is not all that great after a recent health scare so I decided my trusty bike would be a better option. And it was.
The benefit of having a smaller group meant I could really get to know the 8 ladies on the day, as a plus size runner it’s not that often that people listen to your story or that you get the chance to be critically honest with yourself, so the first part of the day was simply about sharing our experiences and finding common ground. What a cracking group of women, I relaxed a little knowing that whatever happened at least we would have a laugh.
Today was about trying new things, each lady had their own bottle of Glaceau Smart Water to keep them hydrated throughout the day and at 10.45 the ladies were encouraged to try a delicious new snack perfect for fuelling the day ahead.
Chia Pods are these curious little pots of goodness, that despite their consistency of ‘frogs sporn’ (this is a description according to one of my ladies) are jammed full of protein, fibre, Omega 3, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – essential nutrition often missing from our modern diet and perfect to keep us full until lunchtime.
Comprising just three ingredients – one full serve of Chia seeds mixed with coconut milk and real fruit – the ladies happily tested the Banana, Mango, Blueberry and Vanilla Bean flavours and all said they would consider using these as part of their diet moving forward.
Now for the serious stuff – some actual running.
The main part of the activity for the day took place around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, so after some dynamic stretches including the loosening up of our fannies (I kid you not), the group were split in two and sent off with a page of instructions and a map.
I took on the team support role, taking photos, carrying liquids and giving the occasional “keep it up ladies” or ” that don’t look like running” shout of encouragement when they were least expecting it. Being on my bike meant I could whizz between the two groups and check ahead for any issues, the park is always changing so you have to be on your toes.
The two groups did amazing, and supported each other to make sure nobody was left behind and everyone managed to get themselves up the final hill to pose for a picture with the Olympic Rings (It had to be done really).
The weather held out for us, we even had some sun and despite some building work and preparation for an event the following day the park was reasonably busy and the girls dealt well with the puzzled looks from other park users, although they mentioned they got a lot of cheers of support too.
We just had time to pop into the Velodrome to check out some indoor cycling before making our way to the pub for lunch…don’t worry no booze was consumed, we had a healthy soup and sandwich combo which we even managed to sneak some chia seeds into (Did I mentioned that The Chia Company had kindly sponsored the day?)
We had a good old chin wag over lunch about all the different diets we had tried collectively, and also about the pros and cons of joining a running club, but there was still work to do, so at 2pm we headed back towards the Olympic Stadium where the ladies were going to REALLY RUN!!
The purpose of this part of the day was to deconstruct the process of running and get them to go back to that joyous feeling of running just for fun which we seem to lose as adults, so with a range of games probably last seen in the playground it didn’t take long before the whole group were squealing and running for their lives…well to avoid being got by their fellow team mates at least. And all those girls who told me they couldn’t run fast, well they sure as hell found their 5th gear when they needed to.
In the shadows of the stadium, and in full view of the general park users the ladies were also put through their paces with some drills and exercises to address technique and confidence issues; learning to run proud, run strong and recover appropriately when needed. The difference I saw in those ladies after just 45 minutes was phenomenal, and in their final sprint back to HQ they were like a squad of pros with renewed determination on their faces.
They were greeted back at HQ with another new product this time in the form of an Everything But the Cow, a delicious dairy free protein drink perfect for recovering from that tough interval session but also with a sense of indulgence too.
The ladies had worked hard today and faced many of their fears, running in public with the word FAT blazoned across your chest is no easy task, but as I explained the hard work really starts from next week. So the last part of the day was about setting goals, BIG FAT STUPID GOALS in fact, so the ladies worked in pairs to look at what changes they need to make in their lives if they really want to achieve their goals.
I really need to refocus my plans too at the moment both in terms of my running goals and my business goals, so secretly I was taking a bit of my own advice on board too.
One of the ladies asked me if running hands on workshops like this is what I really want to be doing and although I have no desire to be a full-time running coach or Personal Trainer, having the chance to meet these ladies face to face in such a way is priceless. I do have ambitions to work more strategically with government departments and health agencies, but as far as I can see there is no reason I can’t do both so look out for the next clinic dates.
After saying fond farewells to the group and dishing out their I Follow the Fat Girls Guide To Running goodie bags (jammed packed with healthy treats and running paraphernalia). It was time for me to pack up and reflect on the day, I also got the chance to have a look at the feedback from the ladies.
Never thought I would race up a hill laughing, I really enjoyed the chia snacks and exploring the park
The day was very well structured, was very friendly but most importantly has empowered me by giving me the tools, tips and most importantly the motivation I need.
Inspiring, informative and engaging. How about a 2 day event?
What more could I ask for?
I would like to say a massive thank you to all of the ladies who participated in the day, especially my two helpers Kathryn and Natalie and also to The Chia Company for sponsoring the event, and also to Everything But the Cow, Smart Water, VitaCoco, Bounce Balls, Nuun, Gluco Tabs who all provided products for the day and Fitbug who sponsored a giveaway of a Fitbug Orb won by the lovely Claire.