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This month in partnership with Ufit Protein Drinks we bring another totally awesome runner to your attention, who just blows my mind in terms of what she has achieved and what she has overcome to keep up with her running, and its great to be able to feature a slightly younger runner this time round. What a great role model?

Name Charlotte Proud

Age 24

Where do you live? Gateshead, Tyne and Wear in the north east of England, near the Angel of the North and I absolutely love this area. It is great as you can’t run anywhere without encountering a hill!

BMI Currently 24.6 (Since January this year I have lost 1 stone through my running and increasing my mileage/training sessions and probably even more since I started running in my 2nd year of University)

When did you start running and why? I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Type 1) which is a rare genetic condition, known as Brittle Bone Disease and is thought to affect 1 in 20,000 people. I have estimated to have had around 40-50 fractures, although nobody really knows the exact figure as I have a high pain threshold (When I was 4, I walked around with a fractured arm for a couple of weeks, and nobody knew until I had fractured it again in a different place!) Charlotte Proud - Photo 2

When I was younger, I guess I didn’t let the condition stop me from doing anything, and I still don’t to this day! I have had numerous accidents such as fracturing and dislocating my ankle playing football, having my elbow pinned and a metal plate inserted from swinging between an armchair and a sofa. I have had my finger pinned from being too competitive in a water polo match and a small pelvic fracture from jumping up to catch a ball and landing awkwardly playing netball (Although I still managed somehow to still walk off the court as normal).

I then accepted that I had to find something else to enjoy that was slightly safer. I have always been sporty and that was when I found running. I took up running around 4 years ago, I was in my 2nd year of University and found it was a great stress reliever, especially when I had assignments and a dissertation to write. I completed my first race which was the Great North 10k in 2011 in 1hr 12 minutes.

Did you run a lot when you were younger? I absolutely loved P.E. lessons at school and always enjoyed running around at break times and playing out after school (Especially with my brothers and their friends and running around with them). I would always be enthusiastic about sports day, and I remember entering the 1200m (Which seemed a long way at the time!) and my Headteacher awarding myself a medal for effort alone even though I finished way behind everyone else. I completed the Junior Great North Run in 2004 and 2007, which were really good experiences.

What do you love and hate about the sport of running?

The thing I absolutely love about running is just being able to get out and run and the freedom of it. I always feel great after going for a run whether it is with my club mates or out by myself and it really gives me lots of determination, motivation and positivity. I joined my running club (Saltwell Harriers in Gateshead) over 2 years ago, and I love how everyone is really friendly and welcoming. Running is such an inclusive sport that is accessible to anyone, and I find that when I’m running there is a great sense of team spirit not only within our club but also at events such as cross country and different races.

Hate is a strong run, but I have to say I dislike the moments when you question why you are running, for example, standing in a freezing cold tent in a muddy field just before a cross country race when it is raining/hailstone and windy outside. Then again I still enjoy this as I’m always with my brilliant club mates. We always manage to find the funny side of it, look forward to cheering on the men in their race, and enjoying homemade cakes or a good pub afterwards!

How often do you run? When I started out running, I probably only ran maybe once a week, and I would go out and walk/jog/run and at first I couldn’t run without listening to music. This has gradually increased ever since, and I try and get out running 3 or 4 times a week, (training with my club once or sometimes twice a week). I treated myself to a Garmin Running watch the day before the Great North Run last year and I love tracking my runs using Strava. I no longer listen to music, as I find I run better just taking in everything else and concentrating on my stride/pace and how my body feels.

What kind of distances do you run in training? My distances vary all the time, depending on how I’m feeling. I’ve found that if I’m feeling tired, or I’m aching, I shorten my run or have a rest day and I don’t feel guilty about it. I do have to be very careful of avoiding stress fractures. I currently average around 10-15 miles a week, although this can vary from 5 miles up to 30 miles. If I have a particular race coming up, or a time in mind, I do increase my distance. I have found that variety is best from hill work and speed sessions with my club, around 3 to 6 miles, and runs out on my own which could be anything from 2 to 10 miles. Between running, I try and fit in other activities such as cycling, swimming, and walking.

Do you parkrun? (if so which one) I absolutely love parkrun and it is one of my favourite things to take part in on a weekend. I have currently completed 26 parkruns. I recently introduced my mum and step-dad to parkrun and they have started attending Telford Parkrun in Shropshire. My mum says I have inspired her to take up running at the age of 52. My mum started running in April this year, was a beginner beforehand and has done amazingly well, completing the Couch to 5K programme on her own. I was all emotional when I heard that she had completed her first parkrun in 34 minutes and has knocked 2 minutes off since then. My mum and step-dad now enjoy running on a regular basis and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I regularly attend Gateshead parkrun in Saltwell Park, as well as completing others in the local area. I enjoy Gateshead parkrun as everyone is really friendly and encouraging. The course is especially hilly, but I enjoy the challenge of this. My parkrun pb has gone from 29:55 to 24:21 at Gateshead, and I am always striving to improve on this.

Charlotte Proud - Photo 1We know you recently took part in a half marathon, could you tell us about your experiences with training, motivation etc. In September this year I completed the Great North Run (My 5th half marathon that I have completed so far). I was born in Lincolnshire but my parents and half my family are from the North East. The Great North Run is something that will always be special to me. That is something special about running over the Tyne Bridge and completing the course with thousands of people cheering you on and the Red Arrows flying overhead.

In the lead up to the Great North Run, my motivation for running really increased along with my mileage, parkruns and club training sessions. In 2014, I completed the Great North Run in 2hrs 24 minutes. The support that I have had from my club mates has been amazing and something that I have never imagined possible. This year I managed to gain the nickname ‘PB Proud’. So when club mates started to suggest I could achieve a sub 2 half marathon, I was slightly giddy and thought that couldn’t possibly happen. The race soon came quickly round, and I felt very excited at the start, reminding myself to not sprint off at the start. I set my Garmin to bleep at me when I was running too quick.

The day was really warm, but the support all the way around the course was unbelievable with people shouting ‘Saltwell’ or club mates standing supporting, cheering and shouting my name. About 9 to 10 miles in, I heard some runners singing very loudly ‘We love you Charlotte, we do!” and this came from some amazing club mates who were just behind me. I crossed the finish line and could not believe it when my chip time was confirmed as 1hr 59 minutes and 58 seconds. (I had completed my first Great North Run in 2012 in 2hrs 43 minutes).

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running? I happily haven’t encountered many negative experiences whilst out running. I tripped and fell whilst out running in a club training session back in 2013, I managed to get back up and ran back home fine (It turned out to be a broken bone in my hand). This year, I was taking part in a race, tripped over (I think it doesn’t help when I appear to be so clumsy!?) I thought I would just get back up at the time. I was running with 2 of my brilliant club mates who helped me over to the first aiders, although I was more concerned that I had slowed them down, as we had got a really good pace going up until then. It wasn’t until I got back up and they told me not to look down at my knee, that I knew it was bad. I ended up with 2 trips to A+E and 8 stitches in my knee, although again the support of my club mates got me through that day, especially when I found out that one of them had paused my Garmin without me realizing! (Those who take their Garmin seriously will definitely understand this!) I am determined to take on that particular race again next year.

Recently, as the clocks went back, and the nights got darker a lot earlier, I did feel a bit demotivated and almost felt like just walking back in a training session, although again the support of club mates got me through and later one of them gave me this great quote “When you feel like quitting think about why you started”.

What is your ultimate running goal and whats stopping you from getting there? My ultimate running goal would be completing a marathon, which I am currently considering for 2016. This is something that I am excited to try but can’t imagine running a half marathon and then running that distance again! I think if I find a structured training plan, then this should help.

I would also like to continue to improve on my current PB’s, and would love to aim for a sub 24 minute parkrun, sub 50 minute 10k (Current PB is 51:10) and a 1hr 55 half marathon. I will have to continue to keep working hard and improving in training and most importantly to continue to love running.

What could the government, local authorities, sports clubs etc do to encourage more people to take up running and sport, especially overweight and inactive women? The recent This Girl Can campaign has been brilliant and I hope that this continues, especially with the widespread coverage and advertising, especially on TV. I think the Government and Local Authorities need to remember the legacy of London 2012, and continue with their funding for girls and women in sport, and especially activities such as running. This will then continue to help running clubs to encourage more females, to take up running. I feel that recently parkrun has really helped those who feel that they are overweight/inactive.

What would you say to other runners just starting out? Find a pair of trainers that fit you really well (I am on my 3rd version of the same running shoe), invest in some decent running kit which will inspire you to get out running (My first race, all I had was a football top and an old pair of shorts) and find a running club near you. I thought that a running club would be too serious but they all welcome people of all ages and all abilities and they really get you out running more and give you the inspiration especially on dark cold evenings.

UnknownDo you use protein drinks? If so why, if not why. I use protein drinks before and after a particularly hard training session or a long distance race. I feel like they help significantly with my running form and recovery afterwards.

I haven’t heard of Ufit protein drinks until now and would love the opportunity to try them.

If you know someone awesome like Charolotte who would make a great Runner of the Month why not put them forward for December by emailing help@toofattorun.co.uk



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