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Its my favourite time of the month again (a little later than usual but all good things are worth a wait)…time to reveal an awesome runner in our runner of the month feature.   So I present 38 year old Liza Vallance from Walthamstow East London. A founding member of the Clubhouse, style icon, all round Queen of Awesomeness and soon to be Marathon Runner.

Name Liza Vallance     Age 38     Where do you live?  Walthamstow, East London
BMI and/or Dress Size  16-18

When did you start running and why? About 3 years ago, in a bid to get fit and get outdoors more. My first run lasted 30 seconds and I puked at the end.

Did you run a lot when you were younger? No but I was very sporty and played netball and hockey right up to when I was at University, I was never a fan of running though. Don’t think I’d found the right bra by that stage!

What do you love and hate about the sport of running?  Love – the feeling of freedom and accomplishment. I love how I can track my progress – each run I get a bit quicker or can go a bit further and that’s a great feeling. Once I hit my ‘forever pace’ it almost feels meditative, and very soothing.  Hate – the first mile of every run I do. Everything feels a bit awkward and sluggish and then it clicks and I’m off.

How often do you run? 3-4 times a week What kind of distances do you run in training? At the moment, very big ones! I’m marathon training so I’m doing a long run of 16-19 miles on the weekend with 3 week day sessions split into recovery, speed work over 5k and a general session of about an hour.

Do you parkrun? (if so which one) To my shame, no. I’m quite nervous about social running with other people.

We know you going to be running London Marathon this year, could you tell us about your experiences with training, motivation etc.  I know. I still can’t believe I’m doing it! Training-wise I’ve loved my long Sunday runs. The enormity of it has intimidated me but once I’m out there, it feels ok. I’ve got into audiobooks which has helped pass the time and take my mind off the task at hand. Motivation-wise I’ve struggled with the evening runs. I have a busy job as Artistic Director of Studio 3 Arts (www.studio3arts.org.uk)and 2 small boys aged 7 and 3 so by the time I’m home from work, I’m good for nothing. I’ve got round this by wearing my PE kit all the time so I can run in my lunch break, to and from work, etc.

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running? Plenty! Once some men in a car called me something nasty and threw a drink over me. To be honest though when I’m in my TOO Fat To Run training top I feel really brave! I love the slogans and I think they’re really powerful in dispelling the myths about what a runner looks like.

What are your biggest fears/concerns/hangups about being a plus sized runner? I sometimes think people don’t believe me. I once had someone say to me ‘if you run that much surely you’d be stick thin?’ Oh please.   Also I have a degenerative spine condition so I have to really listen to my body, although running has helped significantly with pain management.
I get very cross that the kit available to plus-sized women is so limited. We’re athletes too, you know!

What is your ultimate running goal and whats stopping you from getting there? To run the New York Marathon. I’m hoping nothing will stop me!

What’s more important to you and why? Frequency, running or distance of running? At the moment, in the throes of marathon training, all three! Generally though it’s frequency, staying disciplined and getting out the door 4 times a week. My handy hint is to sleep in your PE kit –I never miss an early morning run when I do that!

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? Policy makers need to consult more meaningfully with the ‘end users’ – normal people like us. Their ivory towers are so far removed from real life. People are inspired by seeing people just like them, achieve extraordinary things. We need more networks, opportunity to get together, and dispel the fears and myths around exercise for overweight women. I think what I mean is a massive CLUBHOUSE for the whole country!

What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women? Fear, judgement, acceptance, lack of role models, feeling like you’re not doing it right, sticking out for being the ‘fat’ one…I could go on!

What would you say to other runners just starting out? Just put one foot in front of the other and go. Don’t expect too much too early, keep the faith. Get a brilliant bra. Oh and WALKING COUNTS!

What have you learned about yourself through running? That I am a stubborn mare. That I can and will set myself Big Fat Stupid Goals and achieve them. I’ve learned to measure my body in miles, not inches and this has transformed the way I look after myself.

How has being a member of the Clubhouse helped you in any way, if so how? Quite honestly the Clubhouse has changed my life. I’m an overweight, disabled woman about to run the London Marathon. Who’d have thought it! The Clubhouse is the most empowering, supportive, loyal group of women I’ve ever known. Regardless of where you are on your running journey, there’s a place for you there. Thank you Julie. X

Isn’t she fab?

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.

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

Click here for more info and to sign up


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