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Our Runner of the Month for May is the wonderful and hugely inspiring Jo Gennari from London. Let’s find out what she has been up to recently…including her ULTRA MARATHON….YES you read that right…an ULTRA MARATHON.

When did you start running and why?

5 years ago I was a member of a weight loss forum and a friend suggested we run the Great North Run for the hospice her son used, he was 10 and had a brain tumour. I hadn’t tried to run for probably 20 years at that point. I did C25K and worked up from the February to GNR with my friend in the September. Her son died at the end of the May and I couldn’t let her down by giving up – if she could still run I had no excuse.

Did you run a lot when you were younger?

No – hated sports. I was ill with an eating disorder and avoided anything which made me feel uncomfortable.

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

I love being able to clear my head and run off a tough day, I love being able to run with my son and motivate him. I hate that I cant run like a gazelle ..

How often do you run?    

I run3-4 times per week and I coach a class on Thursday which is approximately 5k and mix shorter mid week runs with longer weekend runs.

Do you parkrun? 

I’ve done one – at Avery Hill. I would like to do more though

We know you recently took part in a Ultra Marathon, could you tell us about your experiences with training, motivation etc. 18157440_10154598915801545_2278826410921425453_n

The Ultra challenge was about me pushing myself. I have never been sporty and fit and I think I’ve really enjoyed proving to myself that my inner voice doesn’t always help me out and that people who tell me I can’t do something need to back off..

The training was tough as I have a very full time job and I’m on my own at home but it helped that I had a friend training too. I ended up doing lots of shorter long runs back to back on tired legs to get the miles in and did Brighton marathon as my last long run.

The race was 106 Kilometers, so 65.8 miles….(Wowsers)

I had thought the race would be as much mental and physical but actually the mental aspect was more, especially in the dark when I had no idea where I was. I feel really proud of myself but knackered!

I was also lucky that 9 friends came along as support crew and joined in, they slept in cars to be at each checkpoint and cheered us on like rockstars even at 4am.

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running?

I’ve been hollered at plenty of times – but give as good as I get!

What are your biggest fears about being a plus sized runner?

I don’t really have any. I’m me, I’m proud of myself , my son thinks running is awesome and tells everyone about what I do so my size is irrelevant

What is your ultimate running goal and whats stopping you from getting there?

I want to run the London Marathon and the ballot process is the only thing stopping me!! I’ve been charity fundraising this year and its been tough so not too keen on a charity place for London.

What’s more important to you and why? Frequency, running or distance of running?

I am not sure, I run as and when I need and sometimes have terrible short runs or really happy long ones. I try not to stress too much and over analyse them.

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?

I think the park run and run together movements are great for encouraging people from all walks of life. I did my LiRF last year and have set up beginners groups at work. They have mostly been more mature ladies of all shapes and sizes and maybe my not looking like a “traditional” athlete helps people relate?

What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women?

I think its ourselves and fear of being judged or made to feel uncomfortable. If I see another plus size runner I just think good on ya for being out there.

17218538_10154470583801545_568237936137652706_oWhat would you say to other runners just starting out?

Go For it!! Take it easy and get a good sports bra!! But try to follow at beginners programme like C25K or join a beginner group as its easy to try to go out too hard and be put off when you don’t go as far as you think you should.

Also use forums like the Clubhouse to find other women to motivate you

What have you learned about yourself through running?

That I don’t give up and if I set my mind to something I can do it . I also love that spreading the word about running and helping people start their own running journeys has been life enhancing.

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

I’m quite new to site but I love the community atmosphere and that we all build each other up. We need to be our own cheerleaders and the Clubhouse is great for that.


If you know an incredible runner who deserves some recognition drop us a line at help@toofattorun.co.uk 

For more regular inspiration why not join our tribe of plus size runners over in The Clubhouse, our unique online running club especially designed for women like you. The annual membership fee is currently £59 but this goes up to £79 in just under a week on the 1st June.

It is a great time to join as we have loads of things coming up and a range of fabulous new challenges. 

Click here for more info and to sign up


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