How I went from 4 milers to ultra running…. in 18 months

The first three months of the year are always busy for us at This Mum Runs – with lots of new runners taking their very first steps, others taking tentative steps towards their first events, or more regular runners taking on bigger personal challenges. Throughout February and March we will be featuring stories of TMR runners of ALL experience levels; we hope you find them as inspiring as we do.
Meet Nina. Mum of one, TMR Run Angel….and soon to be ultra runner.
Fearless Nina Peacock - Approved
My Mum was a runner and some of my enduring memories of childhood are being on holiday and driving to the middle of nowhere to drop her off so she could run home!  She was keen for me to run, but I tried it once and hated it!  Apparently, I was going to die!! My mother reminds me of this now often!  Mum had to have her knees replaced at 50 (a cautionary tale for us all) and had to stop running.  She found it really difficult and I think she now enjoys running vicariously through me.
I decided to start running about 12 years ago.  I can’t really remember much about why or how, but I did sign up for the Bristol Half and remember working in London and training running through Regent’s Park doing intervals.  I look back on this now and think I was very ambitious!  I did it though, and managed to finish in one piece.  Then I got pregnant and stopped running until about 3 years ago.
I run now because I love it.  I run with my dog and for me, it’s perfect Mum-juggling – getting the dog and myself exercised, getting some fresh air and getting that all important headspace and me-time.
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I had struggled since I started running again with the whole comparison piece – because I know a lot of people who run, and many of those are faster, fitter, ‘better’ than me, I felt inadequate and like I couldn’t compare.  I have now made peace with this and see *my* running for what it is, enjoyment, not a contest, even with myself.
That half marathon before I became a Mum was the furthest I’d run until last Spring, when I decided to run half marathon distance again.  Dave (my dog!) and I took off and ended up running 15 miles, slow, steady and with lots of photo stops!  I have decided I’m not a massive fan of racing.  When I was going through the comparison phase, I entered a 10k and decided I was going to run it in under 50 minutes (where the target came from, I have no idea).  I told someone this and therefore it had to become reality, even though when I looked at my previous 10k times, there was nothing under late 50 minutes.  Anyway, I ran the race, I finished in 49:58 and it nearly killed me! I hated every minute of it, and it really put me off races. I have taken part in 10k’s since, but running with friends and to take in the atmosphere and enjoy the event, rather than race.
I am also a member of a trail running club (although I don’t get out as much with them now that I run with TMR) and most of the lovely people in that club run ultras (and loads of them run super crazy distances, think 100 miles without a break!) Listening to their stories, it sounded like a great experience; very sociable, no pressure, no real race – about the experience rather than the time.  It sounded right up my street and after talking to friends in the group about a possibility of a trail marathon, I decided on the Green Man Ultra, as it’s around Bristol, on lots of the trails I already run.
I nearly entered last year, but couldn’t make the training commitments, but hearing about my friend Rachel’s experience last year, I decided it was on my bucket list and that I’d make time this year.  The fact that other TMR mamas were entering pushed me over the edge and that was it!
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Although friends have said to me ‘You’ll be fine, you can run that distance’ (30 miles), my OCD took over and I have a 10 week training plan, cobbled together off the internet.  I still hadn’t run more than 15 miles before the start of this year, so wanted to feel comfortable with the distance.  The plan is actually going well, although I haven’t stuck to it rigidly, but it works for me – especially around the planning, letting my family know what I’ll be doing etc, and therefore actually getting it done.  The long runs have been great fun.  There were 3 of us from TMR signed up as far as I was aware, and Rachel joined us as our official guide, having done it before.  I stuck a message on the TMR Facebook page, and we met 2 more lovely mamas who joined us for our first long run (17 miles) and one of those, Erin, is signed up and we’ll run together on the day – the beauty of TMR!!  I’ve now built up to 22 miles and the 30 mile distance seems achievable!  I am planning to go slow and steady, with lots of photo stops and walking up the hills, in true Ultra style!!
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I am amazed at how far I’ve come in the past 18 months – I was running 3 times a week, around 3 – 4 miles, but felt like I wasn’t a ‘real’ runner due to comparisons, trying to be something I wasn’t.
Now I’m loving it, running 5 days a week (sometimes more than once!) and having fun.  I’m looking forward to the challenge of the Ultra – an adventure – outside of my comfort zone, but in a completely different (better for me!) way than trying to run faster!  I would encourage you to give it a go – spend hours (4 1/2 for us last Sunday!) outside; running, walking, having fun with friends – EPIC!
This Mum Runs is a people-powered community-first organisation that empowers Mums everywhere to be healthier and happier. Through a network of volunteer Run Angels we offer free, social runs every Wednesday and Sunday across London, Bristol and Bath – with Cardiff and Brighton launching soon (and more to follow in 2019). To keep up to date with our plans – and for plenty of inspiration too – sign up for our weekly email here.

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