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I wasn’t sure if I would run this weekend.

I have had a cold and a chest infection all week, and aside from CrossFit on Monday, I have pretty much spent the last 7 days on the sofa trying not to cry as my to do list just gets bigger and bigger.

With just 4 weeks to go until the London Marathon the timing couldn’t be any worse.

This weekend was the weekend I was supposed to do my longest run, but I know there is no point in going back too early after injury or illness as you just make yourself worse.

Yesterday though I started to feel better, the cold had moved from my chest and now I just had a runny nose and constant sneezing. Not ideal, but I was starting to feel like I might want to run afterall this weekend.

So I headed to parkrun.

I figured it would be a good chance to test how my chest felt, and get 5K in my legs. It would also be an indicator of whether I should attempt The Croydon Half tomorrow….the jury is still out on that.

Todays run was a run walk. I knew it would be. But actually I did more running than I thought I might in the first lap, it was a glorious morning. About 20 minutes into my run, and as the faster runners were starting to lap me, a youngish female runner was whooping and cheering the slower runners as she went.

I thought that it was a reasonable thing to do, and I often get cheers of encouragement from people I know at my local running club, I know it comes from a place of wanting to acknowledge that we are all in it together.

However…what came next really pissed me off.

As I approached the half way point, approaching the bit where the faster runners run off to the finish line and the slower runners carry on to do their second lap, I was walking.

I wouldn’t normally walk this bit as it’s super visible and yes I am still a bit conscious of people judging me, however my chest was feeling a bit tight, and the snot that had been lodged behind my nasal capacity was freeing itself…so I was just taking a bit of a breather.

And thats when the cheering on lady ran past me at speed and shouted

Come on start running

How fucking dare she.

There was something in her tone which said “what’s the point of you being here?” or “if I can do it you can too”, it wasn’t encouraging, it was like she was dictating what I should do.

But let’s just remember she was on her last 100 meters, finishing in just over 20 minutes, and I still had 20 minutes to go.

I was furious.

How dare she judge me, or feel like she is better placed to know when I should or should not be running. parkrun is supposed to be for everyone, walkers included.

She didn’t know me.

Didn’t know why I was walking (not that it matters)

I tell you, if she thought it would motivate me, it did the opposite. I didn’t start running, in fact I felt like finishing after the first lap and going and explaining to her how unhelpful her comment had been.

I didn’t though…I finished off the second lap…slower than the first, but not all walking….and I did a Facebook Live into my community for a bit of support which you can watch here (apologies for the swearing)

I finished off in 46.24…3 minutes slower than my last parkrun, but 3 minutes faster than the one before.

Sure so I don’t have much speed at the moment. I am bloody exhausted. I am generally a 35+ minutes parkrunner and so yes this was a whopping 16 minutes slower than my parkrun PB of 30.06….but so what??

A few years ago I wrote a blog post called Why Fat Runners Walk in Races and has been one of my most popular blog posts.

But today I want to go further to illustrate the many reasons why someone might walk that doesn’t involve being lazy or unmotivated. So with the help of the women in my awesome community I present…

70 Reasons someone might be walking

  1. Because I’m injured
  2. Because I am unwell
  3. Because I am exhausted
  4. Because I have decided to
  5. Because I have done no exercise for many years and this is my attempt to change this (thanks for this one Jill)
  6. Because run walking is a proven technique to prevent injury
  7. Because dog poo (This is the best Pam…your list was amazing)
  8. Because saving new trainers for a bigger race coming up
  9. Because breakfast was too big and you’ve been a little bit sick in your throat
  10. Because I’m enjoying the view
  11. Because it hurts
  12. Because I’m walking to support someone who is struggling
  13. Because of inadequate bra support
  14. Because my thighs are chafing
  15. Because I don’t want to be first back (ha ha…you never know that might happen one day)
  16. Because I am happy to come last so that someone newer than me doesn’t have to (and no a parkrun backrunner doesn’t always make a new person feel much better about coming in last sorry)
  17. Because you love the experience so much you don’t want it to end
  18. Because you fancy someone behind you
  19. Because you fancy the Marshall at the next point and want to drink them in
  20. Because you have joggers nipple
  21. Because that’s the plan
  22. Because I’m on my period
  23. Because I don’t really want to go home after
  24. Because it’s been a tough week
  25. Because I am emotional and can’t run while crying
  26. Because I am having a mental health crisis
  27. Because I am just back from cancer treatment
  28. Because I have cancer
  29. Because of my asthma
  30. Because I have pins and needles
  31. Because I have IBS and might shit myself if I run
  32. Because I have wind
  33. Because I need a wee
  34. Because it is 5K and 5K is a long way
  35. Because I had one glass of wine too many last night
  36. Because my goal is completing the distance by any means necessary
  37. Because I am afraid of falling
  38. Because there is a massive hill
  39. Because my knees hurt
  40. Because I have twisted my ankle
  41. Because my head is not in the game
  42. Because I have just had some bad news
  43. Because someone has just made me feel like shit
  44. Because I am self-conscious of how I look
  45. Because my leggings have lost their elastic (yep this happened to me 4 weeks ago)
  46. Because I just want to have some thinking time
  47. Because I just want to move in a way that feels good to me
  48. Because I am working on my speed and doing intervals
  49. Because of Rheumatoid arthritis (I hear you Lucy)
  50. Because I want to enjoy the experience and look forward to it rather than dread it
  51. Because its too warm
  52. Because its too cold and the cold air is making it hard for me to breathe
  53. Because its windy
  54. Because I want to chat to my friends who I haven’t seen for ages
  55. Because I have my 6 year old with me and I want her to enjoy it
  56. Because walking uses different muscles
  57. Because I feel safer walking
  58. Because I don’t give a shit what others think about me
  59. Because I get better times over all if I allow myself walk breaks
  60. Because I follow Julies “60 second” walk break rule
  61. Because I am regaining strength after an injury
  62. Because I want to build in confidence
  63. Because I ran yesterday and have DOMS (Delayed onset of muscle soreness)
  64. Because I am marathon training and have a bigger race tomorrow
  65. Because I am nervous about dogs
  66. Because it’s my first parkrun and I wasn’t sure if I could do it
  67. Because of minjuries (yep I said it)
  68. Because there are too many people watching
  69. Because it’s just one of those runs
  70. Just because

You get the idea.

If you are reading this list and still thinking “lazy fucker” or “they are just excuses” then you are just a dick, and have no understanding of what it is like to be someone like me or many of the other women in my community and just goes to prove why my work is so important.

If you have ever walked because of any of these issues then you will know it is just part and parcel of the parkrun experience for some of us….this is our world, and yet despite all of these things we still show up.

When I do parkrun I just want to be left alone to do my own thing.

parkrun should add to my life not make it harder…and when people give me unsolicited feedback, advice or patronising support it takes some of the magic away for me.

I get why some people believe that shouting stuff out might be encouraging, but it really is not. We know our bodies and the state of our mental health better than anyone else, and your well meaning comment could be the reason we never come back to an event like this.

As I scanned my barcode at the finish line I saw my pal and fellow blogger Mollie the Happiness PT who was volunteering, I told her what had happened and she could see my frustration, she said,

I cheer for people but if they are walking I don’t give them a hard time because of your Walking is Part of my Race Plan t-shirts…I know lots of people who use Jeff Galloway techniques”

She then helped me take a cool picture, and everything was good in the world again.

I hate being negative about the running world, but I care too much about equality to let things like this go unnoted. This may be difficult for some people to read, but that doesn’t mean it is not important.

Think before you speak

Remember not all runners want or need the same thing you do from events…not all of us can run a full 5K for whatever reason, but are out there doing what we can.

If in doubt say nothing.

Happy running/walking folks.

Just to say this is not a reflection on parkrun, or an attack necessarily on the lady who shouted at me to run. I am just incredibly frustrated at the moment with the amount of judgement myself and my ladies continue to get and can’t wait to grow the too Fat to Run movement around the UK to help address this.

We are making a start with a new coaching programme for coaches, priority is being given to women in the Too Fat to Run Clubhouse, and we currently have 20 women ready to get started, as well as the 16 coaches we trained up in Barking & Dagenham as part of our Sport England funded pilot.

Watch this space for more updates about our inclusive sessions around the UK over the next few months.

Please share this post to help anyone else out there that is struggling with confidence as a runner, who feels like walking is cheating, but equally to help those who have no idea what it’s like to be a middle aged, overweight, slower runner who still wants to enjoy this wonderful sport of running.

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