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So in the first of our Runner of the Month features sponsored by protein drink UFit I would like to introduce 39 year old Nicole Crimmings from Merthyr Tydfil (just don’t ask me to say that outlaid  in South Wales.

When did you start running and why?

IMG_3772I began running in January 2015 as part of a get fit and Slimming World dieting regime as I realised I needed to do something about my increasing weight. I was a dress size 22-24. Also, with my 40th birthday looming I felt this burning desire to achieve something I never had before!! (she is now down to a size 16-18)

Did you run a lot when you were younger? God no! not at all!! Me and fitness were definitely not the best of friends! LOL

What do you love and hate about the sport of running? I always hate that 1st mile of a run…doesn’t matter how far you’ve ran previously…that 1st mile is a killer!! I tend to feel like a right plonker- no rhythm, no pace, breathing like a steam train! Then suddenly it clicks and you find your rhythm! I love the sense of achievement that comes with each run and the sense of togetherness as ‘runners’ in a race! Hate the numerous blisters in the first weeks of running!

How often do you run? I run 3-4 times a week. I’m not parkrunning yet, but food for thought as I often read your blogs about them (this is a good one if you are thinking about doing your first parkrun)

What kind of distances do you run in training? Generally I run between 2-4 miles each run. Depending on how hard my hubby pushes me to believe I can do on the day!

Have you taken part in any races?  FB_IMG_1434911658022Yes! (she says with a big grin) I have previously completed a 5k Race For Life walk/run in Scolton Manor in Pembrokeshire West Wales in 2013, this was before I officially took up running, but was born out of determination to raise money for the charity as my Mum was battling Breast Cancer in 2013 and my son had previously beat Acute Myeloid Leukemia at the age of 8 months in 1999, so I wanted to give something back! My mum has since finished her treatment and is doing very well!! My 1st real running race though was the Caerphilly 10k on June 21st!!

I had trained for months religiously and had cried when I had actually completed my 1st 5k training run, which seemed to take forever to be able to complete, I actually thought I was never going to do it! But when I did, 5K became my average training run and then I built up from there! The Caerphilly race was amazing and my fab family came to support me! I felt really nervous as I was doing it on my own. The atmosphere was fantastic though! nicole2The course wasn’t an easy one with some interesting hills (well, I should of realised we do live in Wales after all) and to make it worse, the hills were at the beginning of the race and at the end!!

I was freaked to say the least when the scheduled water stations were nowhere to be seen, and after acting like a mad-woman asking all the stewards whilst red-faced and trying to remember to keep my legs moving where the water was, a kind runner who’d been pretty much pace-matching me, tapped me on the shoulder and offered me a chewing gum to chew with her advice that it helped her hugely when she had a dry mouth! I had never been so relieved to chew a gum! And it worked – taking my dry sand-like mouth to a cavity of saliva! Yippee!! At the supposed last water station at 7k there was minimal water available, and on asking another woman runner about the availability of water – gave me her half -filled water bottle!!

I must have looked desperate! It certainly made me appreciate the ‘runners community’ spirit I had read about in the magazines!! I came down the last hill with the finish line in sight and was completely emotionally overwhelmed! I had my sister and children and husband and nephew shouting me on and holding their banner and I had never experienced the feeling in my heart or my head of jubilation, relief, accomplishment and utter proudness of myself that I felt when I crossed that finishing line to a chip time of 1hour & 26 minutes!! I had gone from a woman who had always argued that I simply wasn’t made to run to one that had completed her 1st 10k race!! Go Me!!

Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running? Yes, I went running locally in winter this year and on my way from my house, I experienced a taxi driver laughing at me running…to say it was humiliating is an understatement!! I have also experienced that shocked on people’s face when I say I run….that age old “you’re too fat to be a runner surely?” look.

What are your biggest fears or hangups about being a plus sized runner? I guess, it has always been how people see me in my running gear being a plus-size and all that! And how my wobbly bits look and what people who are driving past me say about my appearance! (Why do we care hey?)

What is your ultimate running goal and whats stopping you from getting there? My ultimate running goal is …wait for it… to run the Virgin London Marathon! I nearly entered the ballot this year and even put a reminder on my phone for when the ballot opened in May for next year, but chickened out, thinking I was punching way out of my league as I had only completed 1 10k race with another 10k race place booked for September in Swansea Bay. I guess, with me, it will always be my own self-doubt in my ability to complete such a prestigious race!

What’s more important to you and why? Frequency, running or distance of running? I guess, if I’m totally honest, it’s just running in the first instance, then maintaining a weekly frequency as my 2nd importance then the distance as last! Just running is far better than sitting on the couch believing you can’t do it, keeping up my frequency keeps me in a zone which improves, I recently had to take a week off due to being unwell and I was shocked at how much that affected my mojo with running and I still don’t feel like I’ve got 100% of it back yet! And the distance is last on my list, as I believe if you are only able to do a 3k run one day but really had to push yourself to do it, then that is an achievement in itself!! And I’m still out there proving that although I’m a plus-sized runner, I am still 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 government should realise that it’s not just poor dietary intake that affects weight, but inactivity also! Instead of just focusing on adding Tax to sugary drinks, they should shift their focus onto supporting Leisure Centre’s funding to ensure they stay open so that we can continue to utilise their facilities. Advertising by leisure Centre’s could be focused more around the plus-size ladies of the U.K to reduce the ‘perfect model fitness fanatic’ image that so many gyms unfortunately have a reputation of.

What are the biggest barriers for plus sized women? Images portrayed in the media of the average runners physique! Just because we may not be a size 8, we can still be active and fit. Proper fitting and trendy running gear is one of the biggest barriers too that I have found personally on my journey! The public’s negative perception of a plus-sized runner, it is frustrating to have people that scoff at us whilst out there doing our level best to run and change our lifestyle whilst conquering personal challenges and achieving huge goals.

What do you make of all the media attention of plus sized fitness at the moment? 
It’s about time!! That they put us in a positive light and stop assuming because we are plus size that we are naturally lazy!! This is simply not the case!! We can be plus sized but still fit! One size simply does not fit all!

What would you say to other runners just starting out? Believe in yourself, be kind to yourself always, and running shouldn’t be measured by how ‘fast’ you are or how far you run without stopping, the very fact that you are out there doing it is fantastic!!!! Purchase a good pair of running trainers that treat your feet and joints well!!

What have you learned about yourself through running? I am capable of so much more than I ever believed I was. I was built for running (Yes my hubby was right) and I am focused and determined!

Has the Fat Girls Guide to Running helped you in any way, if so how? Oh my goodness – a big fat YES! It was brilliant stumbling upon your blog, it gave me the “permission” I needed at that point that it was O.K for me to go out for a run (or jog/walk when I started) even though I was a size 22-24 and 17+ stones in weight! It has kept me motivated when I felt fat and frumpy and ridiculous for even thinking I could run! And when I was off work due to an illness, I was able to watch your This Morning challenge – and again, it kept me motivated and out there!! Unknown-1

And finally, as part of our new partnership with the Protein Company we will be sending you some uFit protein drinks to help with your training. Have you used protein drinks before and how do you think you might get on with them? 

I haven’t tried any yet, because I currently follow a specific diet programme and also I am not 100% sure of the benefits of them if  I’m just (hey we don’t say just or only around here!!!) running between 6-9 miles per week. (I would say using them straight after your long runs will help with recovery and prevent other types of snacking)
Have you heard of ufit? 
No, I haven’t so it’ll be great to try their products and see how they can help my running.


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