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The runner of the month feature has always brought me enormous joy, being able to showcase runners from all over the place. When I get to showcase an awesome runner who I have been lucky enough to meet in the flesh it makes me even happier. So this month we welcome 38 year old Jo Wilkison from East London who has been participating in our Sport England funded Too Fat to Run programme in Barking & Dagenham.

When did you start running and why? 

January 2017 – I would like to get fitter and lose weight, I also wanted to do something that I wasn’t naturally good at. My issue last year, until the TFTR Barking project was launched – and after I joined The Clubhouse – was consistency which I feel I have improved. Mainly because I find other people’s stories inspiring.

Did you run a lot when you were younger?  Absolutely not! I hated it and avoided it always.

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

I love the fact that it’s open to a wide pool of people from different abilities and classes. It can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. There’s also something quite freeing about moving quickly and you always feel good at the end of a run, even if you didn’t want to go out and you absolutely hated it.

How often do you run?  I’m trying to get 3 consistent runs in per week.

What kind of distances do you run in training?  5k with a mix of running and walking

Do you parkrun? Yes, Barking Parkrun (I have run with Jo there!!!)

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running?

Not really but I’ve always got headphones on so it’s quite possible people are shouting out stuff behind my back – says more about them than me, right?

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

I don’t really have any – my issue is I can be lazy more than that I’m fearful about going out. I would say that if I have any concern, it’s just that I really carve out time in 2018 to improve at running and build my distances up.

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

I would like to run a marathon – eventually. That might be something for 2019 really. At this stage, it’s a far-off dream! This year is about 5k and 10k and then I’ll see what happens after those.

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

Both. Frequency to build up the distance.

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?25396248_10155341436051025_2748275013407603244_n

Make it free to use public spaces. More initiatives like TFTR Barking – at which I’ve met some really great women who all live near me. Things like Our Parks and Parkrun are great too. Don’t sell our parks off!!!!!! Connect different services, too. I’ve asked for advice and help for my weight – and was rejected from the eating disorders service but the GP and Nurses I met, never mentioned the “New Me” project in Barking, Our Parks or Parkrun. This seems disingenuous when Barking is the local authority with the highest rates of obesity and a high number of people who can’t afford to go privately to mental health professionals, which is what they advised me.


What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women?

A lot of people I’ve spoken to – plus sized or not – have said they can’t run. They probably can but don’t realise it. Sports is rubbish at schools and often does more to put people off than inspire people. I personally had an issue with getting out of breath/sweaty and didn’t realise that you just have to live in that state! Recovery too needs to be something people expect to have to do – muscles will ache but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Lastly, there’s a dearth of high-street shops that sell plus-sized running kit. They just don’t. Primark is where I buy a lot of my stuff from – and it doesn’t always fit and/or is poor quality but your JD sports, Nike, Adidas etc. are really bad at catering to plus sized women.

I’m sure a lot of people are also put off by a lack of community.

What would you say to other runners just starting out?

Be consistent and make sure you put your runs into your diary before everything else! Make a good playlist with some fast songs, and some fun songs and/or get some audio books – Overdrive run a free app which you can use to download books as long as you have a local library membership.

What have you learned about yourself through running?

I can do more than I thought I could!

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

Yes, I find it really inspiring to see what other people are doing. And what they’re going through – most of the problems or challenges I’ve had are also things that the other members are finding a challenge too.

Well done Jo.

If you know someone who deserves to be celebrated in our runner of the month feature drop me a line at help@toofattorun.co.uk

If you would like to meet other like minded women and build on your confidence, consistency and enjoyment in the sport of running, then why not join The Clubhouse? I have brought the price right down, and am introducing a pay what you can afford system, with memberships starting from as little as £5 per month.

Come on see what its all about…you might like it.

Find out more here



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