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I don’t know about you but I am loving this months articles from our Clubhouse Members. Today we feature the wonderful Eleanor Graham – mum of two and part time university administrator from Edinburgh. Shuffling through life with the help of gin and Facebook….her words not mine ha ha

The picture at the top of this blog is one of my favourite ever of me. I am covered in mud, looking about as glam as a bin bag but as my best friend said when she saw it ‘you look so happy’ and hell I really do. This was taken when I was taking part in a 10k trail run in a muddy forest in the borders surrounded by people who were much fitter, thinner and able to run much more of the course in much faster time than I did but I the look on my face says it all I am having the best time.

My history with exercise is not a great one. I was not a sporty child and although I was not a ‘big girl’ back then I wasn’t very good at sport so never really encouraged to take part in anything and would avoid it like the plague, dropping PE as soon as I was able to at high school. Unfortunately back in the 80s Scottish education really suffered because of teacher working to rule which meant there was no extra curricular activities where I might have found something I enjoyed doing (I did quite like netball but we had no team or anything like that). Going into adulthood I did sporadic exercise like aerobics classes and swimming but never really stuck at anything for long or found something I really liked. I have been a plus sized lady for many years but that has never put me off joining in with things it’s just more finding something I enjoy and having the discipline to stick at it.

Eventually, I got married and had my first child at 35 and second at 40. The eighteen months before my daughter was born was a pretty difficult time  and when she turned two I began to feel the delayed fall out and was very stressed and unhappy. It was my mum that suggested that I put her into playgroup a couple of times a week for a few hours to give me some time to myself. I did this and used this time to go swimming and it did really make a difference and made me a lot happier and able to cope a lot better. Swimming is great but it requires being organised to have your kit, the pool to be open and get in the car to drive there which sometimes put me off.

At the start of 2016 I had a bit of a mad moment (post too much booze and a roast dinner on New Years day) and decided to sign myself up for a 5k race in May. I had never really run before – I had done a couple of races for life and mostly walked them and as it was the same route I figured that the worse came to the worst I could do the same. January and February came and went and before I knew it Easter had arrived and I really needed to start training so I bought some running shoes and started going out doing alternate run walk intervals  (I didn’t really follow a programme I know a lot of people use couch to 5k I just kind of made it up).  I will not lie it was really hard and my legs were in agony most of the time (I kind of now accept that my legs always feel a wee bit sore that’s kind of part of being a runner). I also hurt my ankle which set me back a bit. Before I knew it race day dawned and I had to head off and do my 5k on a lovely sunny Saturday. I was pretty nervous standing at the start line and have to admit that the really hilly bit I had to walk up but as soon as it got to the flat bit I was able to run and although I had a couple of walk breaks kept on and kept going. The run down the hill was great and the group of people standing at the 4th km cheering me on really helped as did seeing my husband and kids about 200m from the end. I proudly collected my medal and t shirt and posed for some photos before heading off for lunch with the family.

After that I was hooked and continued running and it’s now become a big part of my life. I try to get out about three times a week sometimes for an hour or so but more often for a quick shuffle round the block. I am a very slow runner and still have to take plenty walk breaks but my motto is that like Dory who keeps ‘swimming swimming swimming’ I keep ‘running running running’. I love getting out in the fresh air (and don’t even mind a bit of rain in moderation) and am lucky that where I live there are some lovely places not very far away where I easily get escape for a quick half hour. Running is great thinking time and I often find that it’s a great way to process things and make things less of a ‘big deal’ than before.  I went through a stressful time in the latter half of 2017 when my mum was unwell and I really think that regular running gave me the headspace to be able to cope with that while juggling the rest of my life. I am sure my husband is a happier man when I’ve had a run and the kids have a much less  grumpy mummy.

Since my first 5k I’ve done quite a few more races (including the muddy trail of the photos) which is great for the sense of achievement and to give me something to aim for. Running has already made me some new friends and also given me new connections with existing friends which is a lovely too.  We often go to races in a group which is great as we can compare notes and often have a wee picnic after the race.  In January 2017 I joined the clubhouse which as just a fantastic group of ladies who support and encourage each other to find our ‘running happy places’.

What I say to everyone is that if I can be a runner then so can you and in the long term my plan is to become qualified as a Jog Scotland leader so that I can help other folks to find their big running grins too.

Thanks Eleanor, and I also love that photo of you.

If you would like to join our awesome community, get involved in our meetups and training days, and even become a Too Fat to Run coach or guest blogger why not consider joining The Clubhouse today. Memberships start at just £5 per month. Find out more here

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