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When I decided that I wanted to run the London Marathon back in 2005 nobody ever thought I would actually achieve it…perhaps even me.

I don’t even know why I initially wanted to do it…maybe it was because it felt like the BIGGEST thing you could do in the sport, an accomplishment that other people would get in terms of it’s scale.

All I knew was I had to do one.

What I didn’t know back then was how much Marathon Running would change me as a person, nor how many thousands (maybe millions) of women my marathon running would go on to inspire.

Because nobody signs up to run a marathon simply to inspire others…it is however often a bi-product of doing so….even more so if you run that marathon in a body that some believe doesn’t fit with the distance running stereotype.

So with the London Marathon 2018 done and dusted, and thoughts moving on to whether ANYONE will actually get in via the ballot for 2019…I wanted to take some time to celebrate an incredible woman who has inspired hundreds of thousands of runners with her marathon story.

I introduce to you Nikki Anderson…who is not only our Runner of the Month, but quite possibly our Runner of the Year for 2018.

Nikki hit the headlines (well at least in the running world) the day after London Marathon when it transpired that she had been verbally abused while making her way around the course. Despite being criticised for her weight, and the course being taken down around her, she continued towards the finish line, and received her medal…showing what pure determination looks like.

So let’s find out a little bit about her shall we?

We know you recently took part in the Virgin London Marathon this year, can you tell us about your experiences.   How did your training go?   What was your motivation?   What was your experience on the day?   Would you do it again?  

The training for VLM was hard as have major calf issues so was having to have sports massages regular on that area.  I did Julie Creffield’s Couch to 5k Programme, brought Julie’s Marathon book, the yellow one (The Fat Girls Guide to Marathon Running), to mentally prepare me and get some tips.

For my training did Parkrun and local training at track, gym, sessions of swimming and of course running.

I did a half marathon at Victoria park and my calf hugely played up and didn’t fuel right so that worried me about VLM.

VLM has always been my nemesis I had pleurisy in 2014 and still decided to take part in the VLM then. But I collapsed about 6 miles in, I was so clueless to what a marathon entailed.  Victa had kindly given me a charity place for a further VLM but I had issues with my ears and had to defer. So when I knew I was healthier and a bit lighter. I applied again via Victa charity and got a place with my best friend Emma, as both our children have coloboma.

My Lillie has bilateral iris and retina coloboma and optic nerve coloboma of the left eye as well as various other health issues. She’s my WHY and the reason I chose Victa as my charity.  She doesn’t give up and the reason I didn’t give up even after 10hrs out on the VLM course.  She never gives up and nor was I going to.

So running VLM 2018 was special and Emma and I were going to running together. Sadly only an hour or so before she was due to get an over-night coach to London one of her twins had an accident and needed an operation on marathon day.  I tried to get my mind set of doing it alone I needed to clear my head and just think get to that finish and do it for both of us. Her timing chip I put in my bra so she was with me in spirit.

On the day it’s self OMG how hot was it, I burnt to a crisp there was a lack of water from the course itself from mile 7 onwards no Lucozade either.  After my knee went I was surprised as  I expected my calves to cause me issues not my knees.

I said to my cheer squad meet me at mile 6 told them Bermondsey Station little did I know that was around mile 11/12 and boy at mile 9 I started to hit the wall I spoke to Emma on the phone she was like keep going spoke to Jayne and Debi other friends they encouraged me so much.

People were giving out sweets ice cubes and ice lollies. That kept me going and then I see my friends fighting back the tears because I thought if I break now I won’t carry on. They walked with me over tower bridge and that spurred me on. I have refuelled on food water and Lucozade. Carried on the marshals were telling us you are going to have to start walking on the pavements soon I was like grrr.

Got to Canary Wharf about mile14/15 has abused shouted at me, I thought ignore it carry on one foot in front of the other another lady called Celena had got abused verbally by the men as well.  She was slightly in front. I caught up to her and she was like fancy some company I said yes as up to this point was very lonely and would pass the time quicker too and could support each other.

Then no mile markers so we were trying to work our way out to mile 18 where my cheer squad were again waiting for a gin and lemonade. Went to the toilet and back off again.

Mile 21/22 were my wall and omg it then hit me I wanted to sit down and just stop Celena became a huge help and got me through glucose tablets to get me to the end next stop mile 25 and again my cheer squad Jayne and Mike and their little one Charlie and they walked with me the last mile and we crossed the line together.

VLM Medal 2018I didn’t get the huge rush of emotions that people talk about I was like I need to sit down and we had to wait about 30 mins for medal and goodie bag I didn’t care I was waiting for what I’d work so hard for. Also as I crossed the line friends had donated taking me over the £5000 target I’d set for charity.

Would I do it again?  I was messaging Emma saying I don’t know if I can even do the New York marathon in November.

But this week I’ve reapplied to charities and entered the ballot for 2019 and hopefully I will be better prepared and lose more weight so it’s easier on my body.

Do you have any running goals for the future? 

The VLM was my ultimate goal and to finish it whatever it took. I now have the New York marathon to look forward to in November and hopefully VLM 2019.

I didn’t really do anything apart from horse riding when I was younger. Never if you would have told my 16yr old self you will complete a marathon I would have said f##k off – lol

Love that when you run you can clear your head space.  Hate the injuries especially being a bigger lady it puts more of a strain on your body I think.

We know you are part of the Barking and Dagenham TFTR? Group.  What have your experiences been with this group?

The group is very welcoming and make you feel at home I’d advise anyone to do join.

We have recently put 18 local women through England Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness Programme so that they can begin to lead  inclusive and accessible running clubs in the area

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running?

Yes and normally I stick 2 fingers up, unlike when I was in the marathon I had a charity vest on and I’m representing them so kept my mouth shut. The world is full of small minded idiots but they just drive me to carry on.

I think the local governments could fund more running clubs but ultimately it is down to the individual to be in a mindset of wanting to get out there. The hardest step is actually putting your foot out the door. But you won’t get anything done from your sofa weather you start off walking just to just get out is a massive start.

How has being a member of the Clubhouse helped you in any way, if so how?

The clubhouse where do I even start these woman are warriors and have and give so much support to each other. I have experience of this on marathon day, they didn’t leave their phones until they knew I’d crossed the finish line. It is a safe place to air concerns and to make ourselves accountable with no judgement just love and support I’m glad I joined

Get out there don’t let your fears hold you back. Get a gait analysis done find some running gear make sure you have a few bits so you cannot use the excuse of no clean kit. And just open the door and go.

If you would like to join our online running club, The Clubhouse, full of hundreds of incredible women just like Nikki, memberships start from just £5 per month.

Find out more here

What surprised me about Nikki, was at how surprised she was that her story touched so many people. The post I initially wrote about her experiences “Too Fat to Run at the London Marathon 2018″ got over 100,000 views…on social media she received over 300K comments, shares or responses.

It is not OK to fat shame someone who is running a marathon and Nikki will have inspired so many people with her display of perseverance and grit while raising money for an incredible charity.

As a small token of my appreciation, I would like to gift Nikki a place on my Living a Bigger Life Mastermind which starts in a couple of weeks.

What I have learned over the last few years is just how important it is for us as women to see women that look just like us achieving amazing things. It gives us hope. It calls us out on our own bullshit. It shows what is possible.

In June I am giving a TEDx talk on the concept of Living a Bigger Life, and I will also be bringing out a new book on this topic. I also have an exciting new project up my sleeve to involve as many women as possible on this adventure with me….so watch this space.

In the meantime the Early bird price for my transformational Living a Bigger Life group programme finishes today, I would love to work with you over the next 3 months to help you achieve your Big Fat Inspiring Goal this year.

Click here to find out more.

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