Mud, Mums and Medals

An Uphill Adventure

Something really significant happened to me on the 3rd day of 2016. Although I didn’t realise it as the time, I was pretty busy trying to stop myself from being killed.

Packed full of cheese and mulled wine from Christmas, I ran up a very very steep, muddy hill for a few miles and then hurled myself kamikaze style back down the other side, with little regard for what i might impale myself on at the bottom. With 200 other people. In the pouring rain. While recovering from a nasty chest infection.

All things considered it was probably a slightly insane thing to do.

But I’m glad I did. Mainly because I actually am a bit insane, and really enjoy that sort of thing. The muddier and hillier the better actually. But also because somehow I managed to bag myself a first place. And a spangly trophy that popped through my door this morning.

As I stood in my hallway holding the padded envelope with the bling inside I had quite a profound moment. And not just because I’d forgotten to put my slippers on, which i had by the way.

But because of everything that had happened leading up this moment. I had one of those life speedy uppy moments – a Sliding Doors type feeling. Very wierd.

Lots of you know my story, some of you don’t, for many it will be intensely uninteresting. So here it is a speeded up version.

BC (Before Children):

I had run pretty much every day since I was 10, including on nearly every continent. Not for any serious purpose, other than that I really loved it. And the muddier, scarier, more extreme the course the better.

I ran with people who took running seriously. We eagerly compared our ‘stats’ or ‘splits’ and all kinds of other (un) interesting data like proper geeks.

I suppose I took it seriously too, although not in a ‘I want to win stuff’ kind of way. More in a trying to push myself hard to achieve more kind of way. Or maybe I’m kidding myself; maybe at some level I would have liked to win…something…but didn’t believe I could. I never did anyway. Hmm, must think more on that.

Anyway there were hills, lots of hills…

I was almost always carrying some sort of niggly injury. I just went to the physio, chucked some money at it, patched it up and carried on.

In 2010, after having my daughter Lyla, I slipped a disc out running with her in a running buggy. It was really really bad. For the next year I survived hour to hour, hanging out for the next lot of painkillers i could shovel in my mouth.

I was so drugged up most of the time I felt sick from the effort of staying awake. Strangely my work colleagues later said they hadn’t really noticed. I’m not sure what that says about the ‘normal’ me…or maybe I’m just a really good blagger!!

In September 2011, I finally had surgery. O.M.G the relief. It was immediate. NO PAIN!

But I’d lost my confidence, my fitness, my courage to get my trainers on and do anything. I couldn’t walk further than the end of the road, let alone run. I wasn’t allowed to lift Lyla for 6 months – torture 😦

12 months of rehab followed. A LOT of lying on the floor clenching my butt cheeks amongst other things. Then dragging myself through the couch to 5k programme, I lived in fear of buggering my back up again.

This was the magic moment I completed my first post surgery 5k at Ashton Court – including THAT hill!

mel and Lyla post park run

And this was my first post op 10k. Edinburgh, the hilliest 10k in the country it turns out – and on the hottest day of the year – but man it felt so good!!

portishead triathlon


The next 2 years bought a few more challenges. A couple of miscarriages took a while to get over and then my son Raffi was poorly for a few months when he was born.

So, back to lacking in confidence, worrying about my back. I wondered if ‘Running Mel’ had gone forever.

And then came This Mum Runs…

Team shot laughing

The past months since that fateful post on Facebook to find ‘a running buddy’ have been my happiest ever in my running life.

I’ve totally taken the pressure off of myself and literally just run for the joy of being able to, for the great chats, for the fresh air and a bit of time to myself. Sometimes its fast, sometimes its slow, I don’t really mind.

I still wear my Garmin but I’m not really that bothered by ‘the stats’

As a coach I know what an extraordinary difference small changes to technique can make. So I’ve been working on that a lot on my own and I love sharing this with others and seeing the lightbulbs pinging ‘ohhhhh I’m supposed to use my arms!’

And here’s the thing. And I mean this in a totally non boasty way

In 12 months – touch wood – no injuries, not a single penny spent on physio fees.

6 minutes taken off of my 5k time.

First in age group places at parkrun

And now this.

kelston trophy.JPG

Which sort of brings me to my point (at last I hear you cry!).

Us women are so hard on ourselves. We’re too fat, too thin, the slowest, the greyest, failing as a Mum, not smart enough for that promotion, could do better, could do better.

BUT what if – and here’s a crazy thought – what if, we couldn’t do better, and what if the things we are doing are actually plenty good enough already?

What if we believed in ourselves and stopped focussing on the things we think we can’t do. And just enjoyed the things we can – I mean really enjoyed and celebrated them?

What if we stopped thinking about the time, the distance, the pace, the destination…. and just enjoyed our surroundings, the experience, the feeling of our hearts thumping in our chests?

What would happen then? Who know’s what we could all achieve.

So this month, get your trainers on and just run for the hell of it. Run for all the people out there who can’t. Find somewhere you have’t run and run there. Run with someone new. Just run and be happy and let that be enough.

Happy Running all xxxx

muddy feet



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