The #WhatARunnerLooksLike Wednesday series features everyday women runners and their real thoughts on running, their accomplishments, struggles and bodies. We created this series as a way to help ordinary women runners tell their extraordinary stories. We have been inspired by the stories of other women runners and received much strength to know that we are not alone in our struggles. Some interviews are silly, some are long, some are short, and some are profound. We hope you enjoy, and if you’re interested in sharing your #WhatARunnerLooksLike story with us or know someone in your running circles that has an inspiring story to share, simply use this online form to submit your story.
This week’s #WhatARunnerLooksLike Wednesday feature is Fiona from @Fiona_slimmingworld_diaries.
Women’s Running Community (WRC): What Made You Take Up Running?
Fiona (F): I wanted to lose weight. I knew that the best way to do this was to build in some form of regular exercise. I had always been curious about running as I had a few runner friends but I was massively overweight. But could I? I wanted to find out. I chatted to a few people. Found and read some inspiring stories online and that was it. I downloaded the couch to 5k plan and started. By the end… running had me. I fell in love with it.
WRC: What Do You Love About Your Body?
F: I love what my body has shown me it can do. It has taught me that I’m stronger than I think and that I’m more capable than I believe. At over 70lbs overweight I learnt to run. My body changed, I improved and it showed me that I can. Even after a whole lifetime spent with a unhealthy relationship with food, my body showed me that’s it’s truly capable of anything. I love it for that.
WRC: How Has Running Helped You Appreciate Your Body?
F: I love how strong and fit I am now. I used to have knee pain everyday from carrying too much weight. I used to struggle to climb stairs, out of breath and choosing the lift every time. Not anymore, I fly up them now!!! I love to walk everywhere, I enjoy all forms of exercise that I would have hidden from. I just enjoy knowing that I can do anything!!
WRC: How Has Running Helped You Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and/or
Generally In Your Life?
F: You fall in love with running. With the journey. It’s addictive.
I often get asked… does running make you lose weight faster? To be honest. I’ve no idea! That’s not why I do it.
Yes, it started that way. I wanted to do some exercise. I’d tried the gym. I’d tried swimming, dancing, classes. I enjoyed them all but couldn’t stick to them for any length of time. I got bored. Same thing, repeat. There was nothing to keep me interested.
Running got me, it got me early on. I remember the day so well. I’d been doing the #c25k program for a few weeks. It was hard, I had my doubts. I remember my first 60 sec runs and not being able to do them. But the clearest memory I have was my first 5 min run. It was an increase from 3 to 5. I was scared. Didn’t believe I could. When I did, I jumped up and down on the spot and clapped myself like a mad woman in the middle of the street. Me? Me? I’d just run for 5 minutes. 3 weeks ago I couldn’t do 60 secs!!! For the first time I believed it was possible, I could learn to run. I loved it, I wanted more.
It took me on a journey. A journey of self discovery and I fell in love with what running was teaching me. All those things I had believed about myself just weren’t true. I could enjoy exercise. I can be fit and healthy. I can succeed if I try. You feel so amazing for doing it.
Food was such a big part of my life. I had all the wrong associations with it. I used it in all the wrong ways and it made me feel miserable. Without food there was a gap and you can’t expect change to happen by doing the same things you’ve always done. I needed change to happen in my life and this was by doing something different.
Running has done that, it’s breathed air into my life. It’s my stress relief, it gives me focus, it makes me feel good about myself, it’s made me new friends, its taught me self belief, I’ve achieved new goals, I’ve run a half marathon, it’s turned me into a superwoman, it’s toned my body beyond belief. Oh yeah… and it burnt a few calories off along the way too.
I run just because I love it. ❤
WRC: What Do You Think About When You’re Running?
F: Everthing and nothing. Running is my stress release.
This so used to be food. I was an emotional Running is my me time, my space away from the world. It does wonders for your mental health in so many different ways. Some days I love it as it clears my head of all my stressy thoughts and lets me think about absolutely nothing at all. Feet pounding, steady heartbeat, the rhythm of your breathing. That’s all you need.
Other days it’s the opposite and it lets me have space to think. I love runs where I have lots to think about as its these runs where I actually forget I’m running. It lets me work though problems and allows me solve all the little niggly things that are on my mind. Some runs you feel that you can solve it all!
Running regularly keeps my stress levels low. I look forward to them, when I’m back from them often my first thoughts are ‘my, I needed that today’. I really believe it has been the main difference in reducing my need to binge eat. It just helps to keep me balanced.
Getting outside, exploring the world, finding new trails, exploring the woods, seeing the seasons change, cold frosy mornings, sunny summer runs, getting that heart racing, that mind working. It just does wonders for you.
WRC: What Do You Love Most About Running?
F: “I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.”
Running teaches you to challenge yourself. It teaches you to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps you to find out what you’re made of. To find the drive you need for everyday life.
It’s tough love for yourself. I can’t do it, you head tells you. I’ll never do it. But you push on determined and prove to all your head demons that you can. It makes you a stronger person. A happier, healthier and one who doesn’t give in to self doubt. You stop fearing challenge. Stepping outside the comfort zone is the price you have pay to find out just how good you can be. Running teaches you this. It makes you a stronger more determined person.
If you want to change your body exercise. If you want to change your life, run.
WRC: What’s Your Favorite Part Of Being A Runner?
F: Running makes you happy 😆
I remember, before I ran, driving home in the rain on dark winter days. Sitting in traffic looking at the crazy runners as they jog past my window as I sat miserable gridlocked in my car. Why? I used to think. Why do they do it? Why?
It’s ever so simple. Running make you happy. No, I’m lying, running makes you deliriously happy! Happy, happy, happy.
Some runs are just so good! You feel at one with the world. Something just clicks, your breathing is right, rhythm is right, your body is in tune. You feel so alive. You feel like you are flying. It’s such a high. Now I’ve been a swimmer, I’ve done dancing, gym classes but nothing, nothing, comes anywhere near close to that truly magical feeling you get when you’re running.
On top of this is the extra feeling you get from achieving. From pushing yourself, from the weeks of training, the effort, the sweat and the pain. The day you achieve what you’ve set out to do? Well that feeling is just so unbelievably amazing. It stays with you beaming sunlight inside you for such a long time.
My first sub 30 5k at parkrun, my 10k PB, running and finishing a half marathon. Beating my time in my second half only a week later.
They are all imprinted in my brain, my heart. Such special days. Now, being truthful they don’t all feel like this. There are good runs, there are bad runs, euphoric runs and runs where you want to quit every second of the way.
Having felt the good ones, I’ll keep going out there, pushing myself and chasing that feeling. The ones that make me feel like superwoman, they are just so good. Run happy! 😆
WRC: Do You Engage In Other Sports or Activities? If So, What And How Often?
F: Not really no!!!! A bit of gym going and swimming. But mainly… I run.
WRC: How Do You Stay Motivated When You Don’t Want To Run?
F: Two main things keep me motivated. Running with friends and booking
Running with friends, there really is just nothing better.
From the moment you lace up your shoes and hit the trails it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, how many miles you run, navigating the way through the field of sheep, you don’t notice any of it. Because you are just too busy laughing to care!
Friends in life support you, running friends run with you. A bond builds. Mile, after mile, a strong indestructible bond builds and it feels like you’ve known each other for a lifetime. Running friends just get you, they understand all too well the need, the desire and the passion to just simply run.
What really motivates me to train though? Races. Book a race, a new challenge. A time goal or a new distance. Having an end goal and a target in mind, sharing it with others through my IG account. Keeps me running every time!!
WRC: Most Memorable Race Or Running Accomplishment?
F: From the big medals to the going out for a 2 mile run at 5am before work in the rain. My first sub 305k to my first half marathon. They all have a special meaning and a special place in my heart because there is a story behind each and every one. A story of a girl who spent years believing she couldn’t until that one day that she did.
I’m also proudest of the fact that I love it. I’m still doing it, it’s become my lifestyle now. Running is a part of me.
WRC: What Is Your Best Tip Or Advice For A Newbie Runner?
F: Best bit of advice I had go slow. Go so very slow. Build it up. The couch to 5k is about distance, stamina and learning how to breathe.
The program teaches you to breathe, that’s all learning to run is, it’s learning how to jog and breathe. To get passed that bit where you think your going to keel over to a place where you find a rhythm and a you can steady out your heart rate. Go as slow as you need to do the distance. Does not matter how fast you go. This comes later, much later. Too many people fail by going too fast
WRC: What Is THE Ultimate Quote You Live Your Life By If You Could Only
Choose One (explain)?
F: Never give up – plans fail, life gets in the way, things are hard, just never give up trying. That’s the real secret to it all.
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