Community Stories: On Running And Mental Health

On World Mental Health Awareness day this year, we asked a number of women from within our community to tell us about their experience of the relationship between running and mental health. Their replies were brave and honest, and confirmed to us  something we’d always believed to be true; that running makes you not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger too.

 

These are their stories…

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Sophi’s Story:
“I don’t run for PB’s (I only have one, and that’s my current and only speed) or for the glory (well I definitely don’t look glorious when I’m running). I run to feel normal, for relief from an illness that I’ve been at war with since I was a little girl. My name is Sophi, I wear bright pink compression socks, and I have OCD. I am one of those high functioning people with a mental illness; I hold down a good job and I’m super organised. But secretly and silently I’ve been slowly breaking. I broke when my son was about 2, when my OCD took hold of my overwhelming fear of losing my son. It’s quite amazing how creative the mind can get, with constant visions and horrific thoughts amongst other things that plagued my days.

Since then I’ve been through various therapies and daily medication. Therapy didn’t really help, but then about a year ago I started running, this is when I felt it – when my lungs were screaming, the sweat was pouring; this is when I felt normally. Over time I’ve gradually swapped one medication for another more natural form and I am now medication free. I still have OCD but when the war starts, I just need to put on my pink compression socks and I always win!”

Polly’s Story:
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, outdoor“In January 2016, 2 weeks after my daughter, Loveday, was born, my mum was admitted to hospital in the final stages of terminal brain cancer. 2 weeks later she died in St Peters Hospice in Bristol. I was utterly heartbroken. Not only for my own personal loss but also for the potential loss for my children who would never really know the love of their wonderful granny.
With a non sleeping newborn and 2 other young children, I felt like the grief was insurmountable and totally overwhelming. There was no space in my days to take the time to think about what had happened or to ‘tend’ to my grief.

When Loveday was 8 weeks old, I took my first tentative steps out on the road with our new running buggy. At first I would run for just 10 minutes at a time. But almost instantly I realised how much running was helping me to organise my thoughts and 10 minutes once a week quickly turned into 30minutes 4 times a week. Running suddenly allowed me the space and time to really think about and accept what had happened. There were times when I ran and cried at the same time but mostly I ran and soaked up the changing seasons and the fresh air with my daughter. Without doubt running has been and will continue to be my therapy.
I will never ever get over the death of my mum but a year and a half later, with 657 miles under my belt plus 2 half marathons and a couple of 10ks, I feel physically fit but more importantly I feel mentally strong enough to follow in my mums footsteps and be the best possible mum and wife I can be.”

Elaine’s Story:
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor“I have exercised regularly for the past 27 years and have never been in any doubt that exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body. For the past 5 years running has been my passion. Unfortunately in January of this year I lost my husband to depression. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain that I’ve had to endure over the last 8 months along with a rollercoaster of emotions.

It’s a daily struggle but running has helped me get through this incredibly difficult time. It’s an amazing therapy for your mental health and I would urge anyone suffering from stress/anxiety/depression just to try it. It helps you to sleep better, clears your mind and just makes everything seem more positive. As soon as my trainers start hitting the pavement all of my anxiety disappears. It’s amazing how quickly it works. If I didn’t have running in my life I probably wouldn’t be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. ❤️ running….!”

Steph’s Story:
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor“The first run after losing my mum was the hardest…I couldn’t breath, I felt sick and I couldn’t stop crying…however over time running became my grief therapy.
Whilst I’ve always ‘dabbled’ in running it has only taken the last year to truly demonstrate the positive mental impact of this sport. Losing my Mum in November propelled me into the darkest place I’ve ever been but running gave me an opportunity to carve out time for myself, cry in private (well, in the country roads surrounding my home) channel my anger and despair and give me a focus. Being able to put on my trainers, leave the family home, and breathe fresh air felt great, and as I was so tired from running I found I was sleeping so much better too.
I needed a goal…therefore I and two friends signed up for the Berlin Marathon, supporting the Alzheimer’s Society in honour of Mum. I’m thrilled to say we completed this challenge last week and raised over £5, 500 for this wonderful charity….running has improved my state of mind and enabled me to create a positive outcome from such a sad situation.
** my two friends and I have a combined age of 135 and 5 children between us aged from 5 years down to 10 months old – being a mummy and an older one at that does not stop you running!”

Mairi’s Stroy: Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, sky, cloud and outdoor
“Running is what keeps me LEVEL ! After finding out I had early menopause at 39 I was suffering from awful hot flushes, paranoia, mood swings, anxiety… I was started on a low dose of HRT but although the hot flushes stopped , my mood remained low . Running was the ONLY thing that helped lift my mood. Just to get out in the fresh air and get those happy hormones flowing made a huge difference.
I struggle with my weight and hold my hands up to emotional eating. Running helps me to focus on my diet and usually stops me drinking fizzy juice or snacks (Not always sadly🙄) My weight in numbers is still quite high but I’m starting to see a change in ME and my clothes fit me a little better too.
Running has been the one thing that has saved me and I think my family would definitely agree. I’ve been running for , I think, 8 or 9 years and I’ve seen a slow but definite progress in my running and am so much stronger than I was before. So, I would encourage you to get out there, walk, run, hike, skip or jump in muddy puddles 🤣
Look after yourselves and don’t worry what others think 😘 You are amazing.”

Ann’s Story:
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling“Nearly 4 years ago my first child was born. A beautiful time filled with love, celebration and happiness? Not really. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I kept wishing that someone would take it all away. I was not meant to be a mum. All these feelings I had were symptomatic of me spiralling quickly into the depths of post-natal depression. Although I loved my daughter, I just felt that I wasn’t capable of the new job I had. I felt like I had a permanent attachment and if I’m honest, it felt like a prison sentence.
Thankfully, I’m a proactive person. When I realised that I needed help I went to my doctors and got it. Half-way through my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I was asked about what exercise I could do to help my low mood. I didn’t understand what she was saying – I had a baby and therefore I could never get away to do any exercise. However, as the weeks went on and with a lot of support from my husband I decided to give it a try and went out for a run. I can genuinely say it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I couldn’t believe how it was possible to have my own time and space, but running gave me that, and the high I got when I finished lasted for hours. Ever since then, running has been a part of my life. I love the headspace it gives me and every shiny medal at the end of a race is a trophy of me being happy and healthy.”

Michelle’s Story:
Image may contain: text“I started running when we began trying for a baby; I knew that I could get consumed by the potential stress and worry that this might create, but I guess at that time, I didn’t know how challenging my journey to motherhood would be. I ran until the day before I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and had to have emergency surgery. I ran to recover from this emotionally. I ran until I fell pregnant again with our daughter Orla. And when she was stillborn at 37 weeks, I wanted to run to survive. However, I fell pregnant again very quickly and now we are incredibly lucky to have our precious rainbow baby Esme at home with us. So, now I am running again to manage my grief and the overwhelming emotions that come with parenting after loss. I run because of my daughters and for them, but I especially run for Orla because she will never get the chance. She is my motivation to dig deep and keep going.”

Rhian’s Story:
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and child“I’ve always considered myself a very ‘together’ or ‘strong’ type of person, mentally and emotionally. So it was like a bolt out of the blue when, as I sat crying in the GP’s room like a nervous shaky wreck, she told me I was suffering from anxiety. It seemed to come from nowhere and from no real trigger, but it hit me like a sledgehammer. I was scared and paranoid and cried ALL the time, I felt lower than I’ve ever felt before, I was getting to the point were I didn’t want to leave the house, and had started having panic attacks. I literally felt like I was losing my mind. I was embarrassed as I thought there was such a stigma attached to mental health issues. I thought it made me weak and ‘unwell’. I didn’t take the medication I’d been prescribed straight away as in honesty it scared me. One day I dragged myself out for a walk. Being in the fresh air amongst nature felt good and so I spent a few weeks doing nothing, except going for walks. I relished the quiet time away from being the many Me’s that I had to be: Mum-Me, Wife-Me, Working-Me, the Me who always managed to ‘do it all’. I craved the headspace it gave me to let my ‘airport departures board’ style mind flick its way through all its thoughts. And then one day, without having decided that I was going to do it, I ran! And I can honestly hand on heart say it s the best thing I ever did. I am a new person because of running, it has shown me I can achieve anything I can put my mind to and actually I AM a strong person. Running has made my body healthier but more importantly my mind. Because what’s the point of one without the other? I would urge everybody to get out there, fix yourself, make yourself proud. It may be small steps at first but sometimes small steps lead to the biggest changes.”

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We hope that sharing these stories will help in some way to break down the taboos surrounding mental health in this country, and to encourage anyone battling with poor mental health themselves to strap on some trainers and get outside, for health, headspace and happiness.

You can read more about the mental health benefits of running on our blog post, here.

Baby Loss Awareness Day 2017

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I have written and rewritten this post a dozen times over the past week. Sunday 15th October is Baby Loss Awareness Day and I have been tasked with writing five hundred words about my own experiences of loss and how they have changed what Motherhood means to me.

How to do this justice in five hundred words?! Here is the best i could do – a mere 900 words cut down from the 3000 in version 1.0.

I didn’t meet the man I wanted to have kids with until I was 35. My Dad was not in my life from the age of six and so finding the right bloke who would step up felt pretty bloody important. It took a long time and many failed relationships before I met someone I felt was up to the job.

Within less than a year I was pregnant. Aside from the shock we danced around the room clutching the magic stick with the little blue line.

7 weeks later our world came crashing down. I started bleeding, and didn’t stop for two weeks. I had lost our baby. She may have been the size of a pea, but that little pea was ours; we’d named her, started planning her bedroom, talking about what she would be when she grew up. I was told by the GP  to think of it like ‘an extra heavy period’. I sat in the early pregnancy clinic to have my miscarriage confirmed surrounded by women who were clearly pregnant, clutching their yellow maternity books. Oh, how I hated those yellow books. Oh how I wanted one.

Over the next five years, we had two more miscarriages. 

One was ‘silent’. Who knew that something so traumatic could happen so silently, only finding out with ‘I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat’ at our 12 week scan. I bled for a month that time and still had morning sickness for another 3 months. Nature is a bitch like that.

The final time, I was 40. Handwritten on my maternity notes were two ominous words; ‘Geriatric Mother’. Nothing like the power of language to make you feel….under pressure. This time I hung on until 15 weeks. I started bleeding in a hotel toilet in London, where I was managing a high profile event. It was two in the morning.  I’ll spare you the detail but when I arrived at the hotel I was pregnant, by the time I got home I wasn’t.

This time around I was so traumatised I took a few weeks off work to recover.

When I returned, my boss started a campaign of bullying – now he knew I wanted a baby, he wanted me out. There aren’t many kicks in the teeth that are worse than that.

I think I spoke with friends immediately afterwards, but everyone moves on so quickly and life goes back to some sort of normal. I remember though being surprised by how many of my friends who told me they’d also been through miscarriage, but had never mentioned it. If more of us talked about it, maybe we would feel less alone?

I should add that either side of my miscarriages I had my two miracle babies, now aged 7 and 3. With 4 years between them (and being so ancient) I didnt think it would happen. I can’t tell you if parenting after miscarriage is any different because it’s all I’ve known. I do feel profoundly grateful though and am aware of how different my life may have been: on days like today I hold them extra tight. It doesn’t  stop me nagging when I can’t get them out the door in the morning though! 

For a long time I struggled not to helicopter parent them, so fearful was I of further catastrophe. Looking back, I was struggling to find an outlet for the feelings of grief and loss, although Im not sure I recognised it as this until recently. 

At a counselling session about a year ago, my therapist referred to me as a ‘Mum of five’. I sat there stunned.  I literally cried for a week afterwards. If it didn’t smack of a mid life crisis, I would have this tattooed down my arm to remind me every day.

I am a Mum of Five.

Running has without doubt helped me deal with the swirling range of emotions. Since starting This Mum Runs, I have also worked with many women who have experienced all kinds of loss and have felt so much empathy for these women. I hope they felt supported and safe as we talked. I have seen the healing effect that running has had on them all. Women like:

Emma* who I coached through a Couch to 10k programme shared with me that she had quite literally started from the couch, having been unable to leave the house for 6 months after losing her daughter to still birth.

Lauren* who I met during a TV challenge, whose only son had died aged 6. She had entered the challenge because she wanted to shout to the world “I’m still a Mum’. 

Alicia* who had endured years of disappointment with miscarriages and multiple failed attempts at IVF, and had finally been told she was ‘too old’ to adopt. She was unsure she would ever come to terms with it but still felt in her heart she was a Mum.

My own experiences and those of all the women I have since worked with have fundamentally changed my belief system about what it means to be ‘a Mum’.

Yes, it’s about fun times and holidays and trips to the cinema and family jokes and laughing till you’re sick. It’s about sleepless nights, and cooking meals from scratch then throwing them away uneaten and dealing with meltdowns at the supermarket and the pressures of juggling work and homework and school runs and feeling that you always get the balance wrong. 

But it is also the disappointment and loss from failed IVF; it’s the heartache of miscarriage or still birth or the pain of ectopic pregnancy; it’s being told you’re too old to try again; it’s about bereavement and the aching loss of a child to illness; its about the challenging road of adoption and fostering to give a cast adrift child a new home; it’s about helicopter parenting after the pain of loss; it’s about the decision not to have kids actually, but to be an absolutely amazing Auntie to your sisters kids.

Motherhood is all of these things and more.

This Mum Runs welcomes, embraces and supports ALL women, no matter what motherhood means for them. On this important day, we hope you know that whatever your story, we have your back. 

#WeAreTMR

Sunday 15th October is Baby Loss Awareness Day, an event recognised globally. It is a day where everyone is invited to remember all the babies that have died during pregnancy, at, during or after birth. If you would like more information on this, head to their website here: https://babyloss-awareness.org/about-us/

Or if you would like to share your own story below, we would really love to hear from you.

Running: The Key to a Healthy Body and Mind.

The physical health benefits of regular exercise are well known and widely promoted; children learn them in their P.E lessons, gyms promote them on their websites, and hospital waiting rooms plaster them on their walls.

Yet the stigma surrounding the often murky topic of mental health in this country means that the mental health benefits of exercise tend to be obscured. Despite the efforts of a number of charities such as HeadsTogether working to encourage open and frank discussions about mental health, the topic continues to be brushed under the carpet in Britain: a country where this year it is estimated that ¼ of the population will suffer from some kind of mental health issue.

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Yet the evidence is undeniable. An ever-growing number of studies have proven that regular exercise can help to prevent or alleviate the symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Just this month a major study led by the Black Dog Institute found that those who do not exercise are almost twice as likely – 44 per cent – to suffer with depression, compared to those who were exercising one to two hours a week. And the mental health benefits of regular exercise listed in such studies are extensive, from improving sleep and increasing appetite, to encouraging social interaction and boosting self-esteem.  

We welcome such studies here at TMR, but for us they simply confirm what we have always known: that running can make you not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger too.

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We regularly hear from women within our community who tell us that running has been a lifeline to them, giving them the focus, motivation and headspace to pull through challenging times and cope with episodes of poor mental health. 

Because in addition to delivering the mental health benefits that all regular exercise brings, running also gets you outside in the fresh air where us humans are supposed to be, making it uniquely suited to functioning as a kind of therapy.

For many in our community who have experienced loss, or indeed new life and the post-natal depression that can often follow, running has been the only thing that has lifted their spirits and got them to get up and leave the house.

So, in an attempt to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and to spread the word about  the often overlooked but hugely important mental health benefits of running, we will be sharing some of these women’s stories tomorrow on World Mental Health Day. We will also be continuing this conversation throughout week by acknowledging International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which takes place on the 15th of October every year.  This is a day very close to our hearts here at TMR, and we will be using it to talk more specifically about how running can serve as an important coping mechanism following the loss of a child, and about what we mean at TMR when we talk about “mums”.

Because too many people battling with their mental health alone don’t realise that the first step towards recovery could quite literally be the first step they take on a run.

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Being a Mum That Runs (A lot): A guest blog by Chrissie Wellington

In many respects pregnancy and childbirth are analogous to doing a triathlon, albeit ten times as hard and without the finisher’s T-shirt!

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Despite the huge changes that took place – physically, emotionally and practically when we (and I say ‘we’ deliberately as I see this as a partnership between myself and my husband Tom, even though he didn’t feel much of the pain!) gave birth to Esme in December 2015 we wanted exercise to remain an important part of our lives.

In addition to the personal benefits, we wanted Esme to grow up with physical activity being normalised: for her to love being outside; to be healthy; to be confident in herself; and for her mum and dad to be the role models for this. We felt that doing sport would also make us better, more relaxed and fulfilled parents. It’s not something that’s a luxury, for Tom and I its part of being a parent and who we are as individuals – and doing physical activity is not something we feel guilty about, as long as we ensure that Esme remains the utmost priority.

I know that we all experience pregnancy, birth and post-natal life very differently, but hopefully some of the tips below will help you in your bid to remain/get active following the birth of your little bundle of joy.

Start slowly: don’t rush or panic: For someone so used to being outside and getting an endorphin fix, it was hard to be housebound and I felt claustrophobic and a little frustrated at times. I was also (irrationally) fearful of never looking or feeling the same again. After about 3 or 4 weeks I began power walking for up to 60 minutes between breastfeeds but, following the advice of the midwives and health visitors, dutifully waited six weeks to increase the intensity to a gentle run. I kept the intensity low and favoured slightly softer surfaces. Swimming was logistically harder to fit in because the pool opening times didn’t fit with Esme’s breastfeeding routine.

Keep the core: I resumed pelvic floor exercises a few days post-birth to minimise any ‘post-natal-peeing-yourself-when-you-sneeze’ problems – doing them while I breastfed. Having consulted a women’s health physio, I did (modified) Pilates exercises after three weeks.

Get the right clothing: A good-fitting sports bra was (and is, even though my boobs have shrunk somewhat!) was absolutely essential. In the first few weeks I was so well endowed that I wore two bras! I also wore a thin sanitary towel in case of urinary accidents, and donned my maternity sports clothing as it was a bit more comfortable.

Focus on nutrition and hydration: I ensure my nutrition was spot on and that I stay hydrated by having a bottle of water beside me at all times. Snacks are really important to maintain my energy levels, and in the early post-natal months I found myself eating countless plates of corn cakes with peanut butter and honey at night – with Tom playing waiter! We try to prepare large batches of food that we can freeze if necessary and also have easily transportable, nutritious grub – muesli bars, smoothies, bananas, rice cakes with peanut butter, sweet potatoes in foil – that we can eat on the ‘fly’.

Re-prioritise: Esme remains the utmost priority when planning and scheduling any activity. I wanted to be available to breastfeed on demand, and didn’t want my milk supply to be negatively impacted by exercise. This meant that some days I couldn’t leave the house, and on others I adapted my plans to fit.Larry Maurer P136 _aaaARY2089

Get sleep when you can: In the first 6 months or so it was frequently more important to have that 20-minute nap than it was to spend the equivalent time pounding the pavements, so I often opted to rest rather than get my sports fix.

Focus on what you can do: There are ways to combine motherhood and exercise. For example, with a running buggy, a bike seat or bike trailer. Some mums put their baby in a chair or on a mat beside them when they turbo or use the cross trainer at home. Doing long walks with the buggy or baby carrier are great ways to be active outside. Exercise videos make it possible to train at home and there are also parent–baby yoga and Pilates classes. I have also exchanged childcare with sporty mothers; they look after Esme while I run and I reciprocate. Some friends have joined gyms with crèches to provide the childcare while they workout.

Time efficiency and organisation: I seize small windows of opportunity with both hands. If it’s pouring with rain I still get on my bike. And it’s worth going for a run even if I can only do 15 minutes. In terms of planning, Tom and I tend to sit down together, look at our typical week and carve out slots that we can certainly allocate to training, and then look at secondary times that may provide additional training opportunities. Of course, it will be important to adapt our schedule when needed; abbreviating and shortening sets or sessions, or dropping one altogether. We try to make hay while the sun shines (or doesn’t, as the case may be). If we have time to train, we use it and don’t waste time faffing, ironing a T-shirt or deliberating about what energy bar to eat.larry-maurer-1.png

Multitasking is useful: Tom and I work from home but there could be the option for mums (and dads) who work to run or bike the commute. A good set of lights can make nocturnal journeys possible.

Join a group and lean on others: I couldn’t have done this without Tom’s empathy and unwavering support, emotionally and practically. We are a team – and now a family, and he helps facilitate my sporty urges which I really do appreciate! Being part of a supportive community is also great – that’s why TMRs is so valuable and successful. Myself and a few crazy, endurance-athlete buddies have set up our own little informal ‘Fitmums’ WhatsApp group where we arrange get-togethers to talk about sport, nappies, sleep deprivation, crying, teething and what races to enter – all over good food and a glass of wine. They have helped motivate and convince me that you can be so much more than simply a mum. You can be a This Mum Runs ‘fit mumand help inspire the next generation as you do so.

Good luck and never stop believing in yourself and all you CAN achieve!

 

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Chrissie Wellington is a four-time World Ironman Champion (a race that comprises a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile cycle and then a marathon), and holds the current world record for the Ironman distance .

If you enjoyed reading Chrissie’s blog above, then you’ll be pleased to know that you will be able to buy Chrissie’s new book, To The Finish Line, in our online shop very soon.

This book is super accessible and aimed at anyone who’s set themselves an athletic goal – whether it’s to complete 5K or to run a marathon. It is packed with practical advice, information, musings and anecdotes,
informed by Chrissie’s own incredible career, and has a whole chapter dedicated to pre- and post-natal pregnancy. Look out for our posts letting you know when it’s arrived!

 

A rocky road to Canada: Nicola Welham reflects on her journey to Team GB

So, as I sit on the plane flying home from the world championship in Penticton, Canada I have 8 and a half hours of confinement (my worst nightmare by the way!) to reflect on what has been the most incredible week.  

IMG_0619When two years ago my marriage ended unexpectedly it felt like my world had ended. I had never felt true heartache until then, I didn’t think it could be a physical pain but my heart actually ached. It felt like a heavy weight on my chest – a pain I didn’t know existed. I didn’t know how I was going to go on. I had an 18 month old baby relying on me to care for him and a job I had to turn up for. It was Edward that kept me going. He was my drive, my reason to get up in the morning, to keep looking forward and believe that the path we were going on was the one I was destined for. With the support of family and friends I kept moving forward; some days moving backwards, but I soon learned that I always bounced back stronger. For them I am eternally grateful, for without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Happy, independent, and emotionally and physically stronger than I ever thought possible. 

Having suffered from anxiety, depression and eating disorders in the past I was determined not to fall back into the dark places I’d once been. Edward needed me. He needed a healthy mummy. A mummy who could care for him as best she could. So, I made a vow to myself that if I did one thing, and one thing only it was to look after myself, physically and mentally. 

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I have always been at my happiest when outside or keeping active so Edward and I spent as much time as we could, breathing in the fresh sea air. We are so lucky to live near the beach. Come rain or shine we’d be walking the dog or jogging with the buggy along the seafront. I would take Edward to the gym with me or boot camps, strapped into the buggy surrounded with books, toys and snacks! I grew stronger and healthier, I gained weight and had more energy. I ate well because I wanted to train. And I subconsciously filled my life with positivity. I believe like attracts like, therefore negativity attracts negativity and I didn’t have the energy for negative people in my life. I surrounded myself with positive people and started seeing the good in life, I was grateful for what I had – Edwards, our health, a roof over our heads, a future, the chance of happiness. 

 

My ‘hobby’ of keeping fit and healthy became more of a serious pastime when, with encouragement from a friend who was a personal trainer, I decided to aim for the Duathlon World Championships this year. I mean, I’d had a road bike for 4 months and had done one Duathlon….I’d enjoyed it so what was there to loose, right!!?? It gave me a goal, a focus to tunnel my emotions. I took on a coach and over the winter I trained 6 days a week. I juggled work, Edward and training. I Struggled with mum guilt, questioned regularly why I was doing this, who I was doing it for, what was I trying to prove to myself? But something kept me pushing on.

After just 5 months of winter training I qualified to represent Great Britain for my age group. Something I never dreamt would happen. I instantly discarded the thought of going. I had every excuse – I can’t afford it, I don’t have the time, how could I possibly leave Edward! But encouraged by friends, I booked my flights on a whim one evening (after a couple of glasses of wine!) and realised there was no going back. I found a new coach and upped the training, getting faster and stronger; physically and mentally. My  confidence grew and my self-doubt lessened. I met new people, attracted more positively to my life, and grew as a person. We’d survived. Edward and I had survived and we were stronger for what we’d been through. And I was going to Canada as a reward for how far I’d come.

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The night before I left for Canada I sobbed for hours, realising I had to say goodbye to Edward in the morning. Leaving him for 10 days felt cruel and selfish. It hadn’t even crossed my mind until then. I’d been so focused on the present and hadn’t even considered the reality of leaving him, which made the guilt worse. 

That said, he ran into nursery the next morning happy that he was going to spend a week having sleepovers with friends and family while I was going away to race. And thankfully I’d cried all my tears the night before so managed not to make a scene at the nursery door!

So, I was on my adventure. I flew to Canada, met the most incredible like-minded people. The race couldn’t have gone better, I loved every second and came 11th in my age category (in the world!!!). I fought tears pretty much throughout the whole race. I realised how strong I was, how proud I was of the person I’d become and how much I had achieved. 

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So my advice to anyone going through a tough time in their life, who feels like they can’t go on or think they are not worthy of happiness….find something or someone that you love and focus your world around it. Set yourself small goals and take baby steps. Get out for a walk or a run in the fresh air and smile at strangers, I guarantee they will smile back. Think positively and be grateful for what you have – write a list and add one thing that you’re grateful for daily. Switch your thinking from negative to positive and you will attract more positivity into your life.

Smile.

You will have bad days, everyone does. But don’t let it knock you down – tomorrow is a fresh day and you will come back stronger. I’m living proof that life can and will get better if you want it to. Stay strong, stay focused, believe in yourself…you can achieve more than you think.

The Juggling Act: A guest blog by Team GB athlete and single mama Nicola Welham

I am beyond excited to be sponsored by This Mum Runs to compete in the Duathlon World Championships this month.  Their ethos is everything I believe in – overcoming adversities and barriers to be the best you can be, and using sport and fitness to improve your mental and physical health with the help and support of friends and family.

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After qualifying for the Duathlon Worlds in March this year I dismissed the idea of going…I had all of the excuses – “I can’t afford it”, “I don’t have the time to train”, “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t leave [my three year old son] Edward”. But hearing friends tell me I had no choice, that it could be a once in a lifetime experience and that I should think of how proud Edward will be when he’s older, I started to dream. That it could be a possibility. That I could actually do this.

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Meet Our Mum Panel

Change is underfoot in TMR’s shop as we prepare for lots of brand-spanking-new products to be added to our growing collection very soon!!

We want to make sure that increasing our quantity of products doesn’t have any affect on the quality of what we’re offering you – we always want you to be getting the best.

That’s why we’ve set up our very own Mum Panel, a selection of real TMR Mamas of all shapes and sizes that will be testing out and reviewing our new products before they hit the shop.

So say goodbye to exercise vests that expose the dreaded Mum Tum, or leggings that fall down as soon as you start to walk. These Mamas know what you want and will help us curate a unique, mum-friendly collection of products for our shop, as well as providing you with honest reviews that will help you choose the right goodies for you when you shop with us.

And because we want our products to be right for you, we won’t sell anything that hasn’t been officially Mum Approved.

So say hello to the panel members…

Jane Galloway, TMR London:

Jane is convinced she is rocking her 40s, even though her boys, Max (6) and Will (5) try to scupper it! She runs to cling on to her headspace, likes to pretend she can sew clothes and would rather be by the sea. You may well find her leading a SW London run in her Angel Wings.

Claire Tiley, TMR Bristol:

I’m Claire Tiley, 42, live in Bristol and I’m married with two daughters. I’m a Company Director, have too many handbags and a slightly unhealthy obsession with Gary Barlow.

I started running in January 2016, am a Trundler and proud of it. I keep a blog. I love laughing, gin and tonic and dancing in my kitchen (ideally at the same time).

Catherine Cannel, TMR Bath:

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My name is Catherine & I love running, music, and CAKE! I’ve got 3 children & a husband who also runs. I’m a part time Physio, and I’m a Run Angel in Peasedown St John. I started running aged 33 (7 years ago) when my youngest was 1…..what I love most about running is the feeling of FREEDOM……I am me, strong, sometimes emotional but more often grinning inanely as I reminisce while listening to 90’s dance music !

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Keep your eyes peeled for more from these Mamas over the next few weeks.

Hot Yoga and Running – The Verdict

By Janie Ankers

Yessssss!  Was my reaction when I discovered that I had won an unlimited month’s pass to Bristol’s new hot yoga studio ‘Yogafurie’ based on Ashley Down Road in North Bristol.  At this point I hadn’t stepped foot in a yoga studio for coming close to 4 years, and prior to that my yoga style could at best be described as average…think of an elephant, giggling, trying to balance on a stick, and that just about sums up what I remember of it.

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HOWEVER… since then a lot has changed for me.  For a start I have produced 2 children, and this of course means I am now 100% more invincible in terms of endurance and everything really.  Alongside that (and as a result of said kids) I’ve got really into running; I’m a TMR run angel, and a run maker, and I am unashamedly completely hooked!  So I’m much, much fitter than I was when I last tried yoga.  Surely now I‘m in such a different place physically and mentally, yoga will be a breeze, right?

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Introducing supermum Nicola Welham and her suprising rise to Team GB

Meet Nicola Welham. She’s a 34-year-old single mum to her three-year- old son,
Edward, and part-time specialist teacher for children with physical or learning difficulties.Bike photoIn October last year, Nicola “spontaneously entered” her first, local duathlon (consisting of a 5K run, followed by a 20K bike ride, followed by a 5K run) after a friend encouraged her to buy a road bike and take up cycling. Soon after, a trainer spotted Nicola’s potential at her local gym, persuaded her to undertake an intense training programme over the winter and Nicola’s sporting career began to snowball. Read More

UP AND RUNNING

The morning is English grey and drizzle. In twos and threes, Lycra-clad women and sinewy short-short-wearing men arrive purposely under the tree.

It’s New Year’s Day at Ashton Court and this combination of the young and old, the blurry-eyed and caffeine-fuelled are about to run that iconic Park Run 5k.

I’ve stood in almost this exact position many times. Same bone chilling drizzle, same kids (mine) snapping round my legs. Except the last time I was here I said I would definitely never ever, in a million years do the Park Run. ‘I’m just not built that way’, I said, ‘I’m not meant to run’, I said.

But one of those caffeine-fuelled women is me. Keenly scrubbed and hangover free in the middle of damp field on the first day of the year.  I set myself a goal of running the first park run of the year back in October when I completed something I never thought I would do – the This Mum Run’s Run30 programme.

You see, I’ve never run. Like, ever. Not cross country at school, not on the treadmill in the gym and certainly not ever for fun. It was something tall, fit people did. People who had their act together. People who ate quinoa. People like The Alpha Husband and His Alpha Mates, who churn out 10ks the same way they drink coffee. People who plan training camps as fun holidays for all the family (also my husband).

So I’ve spent a lot of time cheering from the sidelines. I’m a really good cheerer. Captain of the Support Team. Dashing off between checkpoints to be at all the key cheering stations at the exact right time. Laughing in peoples faces when they ask if I will ever do this.

So, you might ask, how on earth did I end up totally eating my words? Well, I blame Miranda. You might not know Miranda, but you’ll know a version of her. A lovely friend, just like you, who you bump into one day looking all bouncy and fit. ‘I did the This Mum Run’s Run30 course’, she’ll say, ‘and now I can run.’ ‘yeah, but you could run before, you’ll say, ‘I mean, look how bouncy and fit you are’. But it turns out not. No, she totally learnt to run on this course. From nothing. From a minute to 30 in 8 weeks.

It really was that one moment. Okay, so I’d been feeling increasingly down about my wrecked post-baby body and there’d been some light nagging from Alpha Husband, but I hadn’t really expected to throw myself into the course quite so fully. I hadn’t, but I did. Even though long and inflexible hours from the other half of the team (yes, I’m looking at you, Alpha Husband) meant that I did all of the homework runs on my own, often in the rain. The 30 minutes crept up on me, like all the best characters in a horror movie and seriously, I couldn’t quite believe I was running. Correction. A runner. And a really competitive one at that (hello, Strava!). Alpha  Husband was so proud that I’d come over to his way of thinking that he bought me a very expensive and impressive running watch for Christmas. It was a silver lining I hadn’t even expected.

So, having come this far and with that newly discovered competitiveness, I didn’t want Christmas to ruin all my hard work. Fresh from my win at The Birdies, I immediately signed up to the Run60 course. It promised to make me faster, stronger and, most importantly, make me a runner for life. Who can say no to that…?

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Kelly Pike, TMR Bristol Mama