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Most of the time here at Too Fat to Run we like to acknowledge our women’s sporting achievements, but sometimes, it is the other qualities and attributes they show in our online coaching groups that bring them to our attention. This is true of Linda Sharp. She is a brilliant cheerleader in our groups, and supports women in so many ways…so we want to recognise and thank her for everything she does for us all. Linda we love you!!!!

Where do you live?  I Live in Angus, in Scotland. It’s a beautiful part of the country, with glens, beaches and city life all only half an hours drive away

When did you start running and why? 

Summer of 2016. I’m not really sure why, but I think the seed must have been sown in the spring of the same year. A work colleague set up a fund raiser for her daughter who was doing VLM. We were challenged to complete the marathon distance over a two week period either walking/running/cycling. I did mine walking and really enjoyed seeing all the Facebook posts about everyone’s progress. In the summer, I was out walking my dogs one day and found myself having a little jog every now and then. When I got home, I downloaded a 5k app and so started my running journey.

Did you run a lot when you were younger?

Not at all. I wasn’t very keen on P.E. I used to hate it when we were told we were going for a run!

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

I love how I feel after a run. The feeling of achievement, is fantastic. I  love the feeling of peace I have when I’m out running in my own wee world. I love the fact that it’s brought me a whole new group of friends, most of whom I’ve never met in real life, but who offer me so much support online. I don’t think I hate anything about it, although it can be a bit of a struggle to drag myself out sometimes, especially if the weather is bad. I would  love to be quicker, but I think most people would feel that way regardless of their current speed.

20x30-ABDA4160How often do you run?

I run twice or three times a week. I’ve tried running more often, but I’ve  found that to be my optimum.

What kind of distances do you run in training?

I aim to do four 5k’s  and a long run over a two week period at the moment, as I’m training. My longest so far is 20k. Sometimes I do a shorter interval run or a hill run( I need to stop avoiding these).

Do you parkrun? 

I have been to Perth Parkrun once, but a new one has just opened in Angus and I’ve been there once now too. I plan to start going more often to support the local one. I love the inclusive concept of Parkrun. 

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running?Glenlivet 10k

I once had a comment about the size of my backside from a group of teenage lads. I just complimented them on their observation skills. They were a bit taken aback, so I think we all got a bit of amusement from it. Everyone else I’ve encountered on my runs have either been encouraging or haven’t commented, both of which are good.

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

Fears – Not necessarily related to being plus size, but I had a long period of illness for most of  my 30s when I was pretty much housebound unless someone could take me out in my wheelchair.  I sometimes worry that pushing myself too hard might cause a relapse and I don’t want to go back there again. I’m learning to listen to my body though and just adapt my training plans to suit. It means that for my upcoming half marathon I have elongated my training and spaced the runs out accordingly.

Hangups – At first I didn’t run in town for fear of being seen! I always drove out into the country to run. The time change for winter forced me into town as it was too dark to run in the country in the evenings.  I’m much more relaxed about that now, although I do like to run in the early morning  when there are less people and traffic around. I don’t mind meeting pedestrians now though. I like a nice cheery exchange with everyone  meet.

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

When I joined The Clubhouse, I felt doing 5k would be my limit and I was happy with that. Since joining however, I’ve seen people ” just like me” achieving amazing things that have spurred me on to believe I can do more than I would ever have thought possible. I’ve now completed 3 x 10k races and my next race is 10 miles. I am currently training for a half marathon…………..yes a half marathon. I can’t quite believe that! I have a big birthday next year, so I’m keen to see just how far I can go before then. I think the thing most likely to prevent me from meeting any goals would be a lack of self belief, but so far I’ve achieved each goal that I’ve set for myself with the support of family, friends and the clubhouse members.

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

At the moment, I’m working on building up both distance and my pace over shorter runs . I’m not sure which I prefer. It’s all still fairly new to me, so maybe I’ll eventually find a favourite distance or type of run.

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 parkrun , even though I haven’t been often, is a fantastic concept. I especially like the fact they have recently changed their tailrunner title to tailwalker to encourage more people of all abilities to attend.  JogScotland have good programmes for all abilities but I know that funding was under threat recently. Encouraging activity for people of all levels of fitness should be a priority.

What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women?

I think we can set up barriers ourselves, which aren’t necessarily there. Things like fear of being slow, of standing out for the wrong reasons, of humiliation. Yet, in reality I have never encountered anyone other than myself, who has made me feel any of these. Shopping for appropriate clothing  can be problematic, as most sports shops don’t seem to stock much for plus sizes.

What would you say to other runners just starting out?

Get a pair of running shoes (and a sports bra for ladies) and just give it a go. Find a forum that can support and motivate you, whether that’s friends, a traditional running club or an online group such as The Clubhouse. I know I wouldn’t have achieved what I have so far without the support of the ladies in there.

What have you learned about yourself through running?

That I am capable of much more than I thought I was, that age doesn’t need to be a barrier and that I love running!

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

Joining The Clubhouse has been the single most important thing in getting me to where I am with running. Prior to joining, I could never have imagined how the motivation and support from Julie and her members could push me to believe I could achieve what I have.

It’s so difficult to describe how this can be achieved through an online forum, but it really is such a fantastic group of women, all at different stages and levels, supporting each other to get to where we individually want to be.

For more information and to join Linda and the rest of us for #ActiveAugust click here

If you know of a runner that deserves to be recognised in our runner of the month feature please drop a line to help@toofattorun.co.uk

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