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To celebrate International Women’s Day on social media we are showcasing women from our running community using the hashtag #thisiswhatarunnerlookslike as there has been so much controversy this week about diversity and representation in the sport of running.

This month we are also welcoming different clubhouse members to share their stories, their reasons for running, what they have learned about running and themselves. Up today I would like to introduce a wonderful lady who has made such an impact in our online community in such a short time. She joined one of my short programmes in November, and then came over to our online running club, I have had the pleasure of meeting her at the National Running Show, the Winter Run and at a recent half marathon training day I led in Hyde Park.

Thank you for all you do lovely, for all the support you have shown me and others in the group it is an honour to have you in our ranks and I know you are going to smash that Marathon next year xxx

me in TFTR buffI’m Vicky, 37-year-old mum of 1.  I am a normal curvy girl who juggles a full time job, studying and writing, running around after my daughter and animals ( 2 border collies Misty and Beauty; 2 ducks Quackers and Jemima; 1 ex battery hen Clementine and a house bunny Dumbledore) with actually fitting in running, although both dogs run with me as often as they get the chance!

I have been running since 2009 on and off and have completed a variety of events from 5k to half marathon over the years including the Great South Run and Reading Half Marathon.  I am currently running one event a month on my journey to completing London Marathon in 2019.

As a full time working graduate mum, I’m so excited to be writing this for International Women’s day, for over 100 years since the Suffragettes started to push for recognition we have been making steady steps towards equality.  My mum worked hard throughout my childhood in the 1980’s and 90’s to give me opportunities; I was the first female in my family line to have achieved a degree and post graduate qualifications, these have allowed me to take up a professional career in Education.  I’m proud to work for a company that has a 0% pay gap between male and female salaries, and that has solid policies around equality and diversity, a topic that we encourage our learners to think about all the time.

It wasn’t easy to achieve especially as a single mum for a few years, but I did it!  You could say that I come from a line of strong …. Some would say stubborn women… but what I have achieved would have never been possible if it hadn’t been for those women 100 years ago making their voices heard.

Writing this blog has given me the opportunity to think about my role models and heroines, amongst then there are a few running heroines, women who have pushed boundaries.  I will never forget watching the London Marathon on TV at home in 2005 when Paula Radcliff achieved her record, I wanted to get out there and run too …. So much so that next year I will be running the London Marathon too…. A little slower though but I have the belief in myself that I can do it!

I was in Portsmouth last October for the Great South Run which due to injury I couldn’t run but could cheer on those taking part, it felt like doing my bit and giving back for all the times people have cheered me on! On this occasion, I had the opportunity to watch another heroine Gemma Steel race.  Gemma is a few years younger than me, but I have seen her race a few times over the years on TV and from the side of the course, it was amazing to see her cross the finish line on this occasion to win …. If anything can inspire its watching someone who has worked hard achieve!

Me, Megan and JulieThis year I met another running heroine, I had been following the Fat Girls Guide to Running for a few years via social
media, yes Julie I was one of those visitors that read everything but had never taken the step to get involved.  Something clicked in November when realising I needed some support to get active again once my stress fractured foot had healed, I spotted the posts about ‘Count Down to Christmas’, then spotted the buy one place and invite a friend for free, this did it for me as a lifelong friend had also recently started running again I invited her to join me in the challenge and for a month we trained together despite the 200+ miles that separate our homes.  I found Julie and the other ladies to be supportive and friendly, just what I needed!  I have since signed up to the Clubhouse and am involved in a couple of the other programmes, I have met Julie three times since January …. I’m not stalking you honest ? …. and truly count her as one of my heroines for inspiring so many women to put on their running shoes and give it a go, or like me get back on the road.

These sports women are certainly inspiring, but when it comes to true everyday role models and with Mother’s Day this coming soon my number one role model is my mum.  It might sound corny, but she encouraged me to be independent and has taught me that hard work and perseverance gets rewarded and that no matter how tough life has got she has always had my back. Three Generations - Grandma, mum and daughter

I hope that my daughter will look back at her childhood and realise that I did my best to be a positive role model to her, to encourage her to take opportunities and chances when they come her way and teach her that if you really want to do something, you can find a way to make things happen.  I will be running a virtual 10k in March in recognition of International Women’s Day to acknowledge the risks and sacrifices women before me have taken that have allowed me to be where I am today.

Thank you for your wonderful post. Role models are so important. Each and every woman in my online running club inspires and motivates me, and I know they are absolutely role models in their own communities and homes, especially women who have young daughters like Victoria and I do, young girls who are learning how to be women, learning that sport is just something we do because it makes us healthier and happier…not something you do just when you want to lose weight.

To follow Victoria’s journey check her out on Instagram @thismumrunswithcollies   and Facebook

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. We welcome all women…if you identify as a woman you will be welcome. We have women in our ranks from a size 12 to a size 26, from a range of ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds. What unites us is our passion for supporting other women and being active, whether that be through walking, jogging, running, swimming….or anything else that takes our fancy. Our closed Facebook group is 100% the safest online space I have ever come across and that makes me incredibly proud.

Memberships start at just £5 per month. Find out more here

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