I joined TMR and fulfilled my dreams

I have been running with This Mum Runs in Wandsworth for a year and it is the best thing I’ve ever done!

I had always wanted to start running but was deterred by a lack of courage – that I would be slow, that I was not fit enough and worst of all, that I wouldn’t be able to finish. But one summer day last year, four months after I have moved to London, I decided to gather the courage and give it a go.

The first run was hard, and as expected, I could barely finish the 30 minutes. Michele, Emma and Man-yee were my Run Angels and would always run at my pace so that I was not left out, and thanks to the fantastic looping, I usually finished around the same time as the others.

I still remember the smile on Michele’s face when I finished the first run, and the three simple words ‘YOU DID IT!’ – the the most powerful thing I had heard for a while.

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Since then, I would always try my very best to make the Sunday run (and of course, the bRUNches and TMR social as well!).

Gradually I have seen myself getting fitter, the runs became easier and I could start chatting during the run. We chat about everything, from running to kids, from holidays plans to festive dinner recipes.

Taking part in the London British 10K – and the medal at the end – was the best gift to celebrate my first anniversary in the country, and it would never have happened if I had not joined the This Mum Runs community!

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Mine has been such a journey of personal empowerment – because now I know my dreams are achievable. This Mum Runs is a place where there is no judgment, no pressure, just love and support – and I will be forever thankful for the difference it has made to my life.

I Ran to Meet New Friends & Found Myself

As part of our birthday celebrations this month, we are taking a moment. To reflect and think about all that the amazing This Mum Runs community has achieved over the past 4 years.

As part of this moment of reflection, of course we wanted to tell your stories too. To shine a light on stories of brilliant transformation for women in the This Mum Runs community. To showcase how running has given them new found confidence in other areas of their lives too.

Meet Stacey.

How did you find out about TMR?

I remember hearing about This Mum Runs quite a few years ago when Mel set it up. Back, what feels like eons ago, in my pre-Mum life Mel had done some consultancy work for the company I worked for and we always got on well, so when I saw she had set up the community I was intrigued and wanted to support her. I didn’t think I would ever really have the confidence to get involved with the running or the social media myself though!

What do you love about running with TMR?

I completed the RUN30 course this year and I really enjoyed it. Initially I was really nervous but I decided to push through myself to start it and I loved meeting new people! My Run Maker (Sam) was amazingly kind and supportive and made me feel like I would be able to do it! I loved it so much I cried when the course was over!

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Because of where I live and the hours my husband works I don’t get to go to any social runs so I’m a bit of a lone wolf when it come to TMR runs, but I get so much support through the TMR Bristol Facebook page that I feel like I carry the support of the TMR ladies with me when I pop out for a trundle across the fields or around the village!

Has running with TMR helped you in other ways?

Before joining in with TMR I hadn’t run for years. After doing the Bath Half in 2008 I never really got back into it, then I had my daughter in 2010 followed by my son in 2012 and exercise really took a backseat.

I struggled with post natal depression after having my daughter, who cried all the time, and was very isolated so I would walk for miles. After I had my son I couldn’t do that and I started to struggle with my health generally. I found a class I loved but that stopped and nothing else would stick. I became  anxious and depressed and after finding myself crying for ‘no reason’ a lot decided to go on antidepressants.

After stalking the TMR Facebook page for a long time I decided I needed to start somewhere with exercise again, and that a 10 min walk/run with my daughter was better than nothing!

Running over the past year to 18 months has become a really positive way to support myself mentally and physically. After completing the RUN30 course I kept up my running and at the same time was helping a very small team of runners with moral support to train for the Bath Half 2018. When it was cancelled everyone was gutted. I sat in the bath and cried (no pun intended), but a few days later and a new Half Marathon booked in for the team I decided that I might as well give it a go myself!!

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I posted my runs and my progress in the TMR Facebook group and people gave me the thumbs up, I asked for advice and I got support, I even took pictures involving my bare arms and legs (#freeyourarms) and journey to complete a Half Marathon and to recovery began!! Without the TMR Community I don’t think I could’ve done it! The TMR ladies have me the confidence to carry on!

How your life is now and how you manage your mental health?

I have managed to come off the antidepressants now and when I feel the anxiety rising and the fog of depression re-emerging I know a run will help, either with a friend or on my own. Running has really helped increase both my mental and physical resilience.

When I went to the doctor to ask her if I could come off the medication she asked my what coping mechanisms I have and I said “I run now” and she agreed that running can do wonders for you and as as long as I could keep that up I could give it a go. 

I still have the odd panic attack and my down days but I know there is a way out and that going for a run will help me clear my head and find the solution. Plus I feel like a positive role model for my kids which is worth it’s weight in gold … (or even running medals!!)

This weekend is commonly known as Black Friday. At This Mum Runs we are actively encouraging you to switch off the laptop and the tech this weekend, to get outdoors for a run! Share your pics, tag them #blackfriday #thismumruns and you could be in with a chance of winning a whole load of exciting spot prizes!

We Are Four.

Its now four years since that dark, cold November evening  when I stood nervously outside a Bristol park waiting to see if anyone  would turn up to meet me, following my desperate plea on Facebook for a running buddy – and secretly hoping no-one would come because it would mean I could sneak off home, settle back on the sofa with a glass of wine and Strictly on catch up.  Read More

Free Those Arms

As most of you will be aware, we are running a month long campaign encouraging women to free their arms and legs from long sleeves and leggings, shake off the fear of being judged and enjoy their bodies. You can check out the stories that are being shared across the This Mum Runs social channels using the tags #FreeYourArms #FreeYourLegs

As part of the campaign we asked Body Image Guru, and Global Body Image Movement Ambassador, Lisa Beasley to tell us what she thinks holds women back when it comes to body confidence. Here’s what she said.

Read More

Our Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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Listen up hubbies, partners, and children. The 11th of March is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the important mamas in your life feel extra special on Mother’s Day.

As much as us mums love getting breakfast in bed and a hug in the morning from our little ones, sometimes we’d like to unwrap a little something extra too.

So we’ve put together this handy little gift guide to take the stress out of your Mother’s Day shopping and to help you find the perfect gift to show your appreciation this year, full of lots of brand new TMR goodies!

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Here are the 3 things you’re most likely worrying about:

(If you’re reading this mamas, share the guide with your partners and kids to give them a nudge in the right direction this year!). 

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Our New Sweater Is Here!

If the mum you’re shopping for comes back from her runs beaming, if she makes comments like “running makes me feel alive”, or “I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t run” then she is one of the many woman in our group who’s fallen hard for running. Which mean’s she’ll love our brand new sweater, which celebrates the greatest romance of all time, that between a runner and her trainers.

Shop the sweater here.

 

Mother’s Day Mugs

Nothing says Mother’s Day present quite like a good slogan mug. We’ve added two brand new designs to our growing mug collection just for Mother’s Day, so there’s something for every running mum out there. View all of our mug designs in our shop by clicking here.

We Know Who’s Boss

Our “I Run The Show” range of cotton tees and sweaters is the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Because let’s face it, we all know that it’s mums who run the show. Click here to get yours.

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Gift her a little slice of freedom…

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Our brand new print bottles up that feeling of freedom and adventure that you get from a run and lets you hang it up on your wall. If the special mum in your life loves to run, she’ll love this print. You can find it on our shop by clicking here.

 

All About The Balance

Our best-selling “Run Miles.” range has a jumper for every running mum out there, whether she’s into gin, wine, or cake (that pretty much covers everyone, right?!). You’ll know which you should choose better than us here! Find them all here.

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You can view our full Mother’s Day collection in our shop by clicking here.

Happy Shopping peeps!

A Small but Powerful New Year’s Resolution

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“I’m a runner.”

How many of you reading this are truly comfortable saying those three little words?

If our experience of talking to thousands of running mums over the years is anything to go by, we’d say not many.

You might say “I run”, if you can finish your sentence with “but not very far”, “but I’m always at the back”, or “but I’m really slow”.

26235825_10155320668362169_1752450905_o.jpgSaying “I’m a runner” – with no ifs or buts – is something most of our community just aren’t comfortable doing. Even to women who have run half marathons, the phrase can seem daunting and unnatural, inviting others to pick apart all of the reasons why you’re not really a proper runner. 

And it’s this fear of criticism and ridicule that holds us women back and keeps us self-effacing in sport.  Research has shown that a fear of being judged is the overarching concern that puts women off exercise.

Ever since we were little girls, we’ve been told that runners look a certain way, and dress a certain way. We’ve been told that they run for speed, distance or PBs. If we don’t fit this mould, we don’t feel that we have any right to call ourselves runners at all. 

18380568_1200026996786395_990978263767580672_n.jpgWell ladies, you have every right.

If you escape a screeching toddler once a week to run for 10 minutes up and down your street in a baked bean-stained pyjama top, you’re a runner. If you take up running aged 65 and half-walk, half-jog around your village once a fortnight to get outside in the fresh air, you’re a runner. If you finish last and red-faced but beaming at your local parkrun, you’re a runner.

Because here’s the simple truth:  your age, size, shape, experience, and clothing don’t matter.

If you run, you’re a runner, full stop.

This year, we want you to make it your New Year’s resolution to say “I’m a runner” out loud (regularly) and to really believe it. No more excuses, no more selling yourself short.

Make your pledge to call yourself a runner in 2018 by posting on our Facebook wall using #RunnerFullStop. We want to hear about whatever’s held you back from calling yourself a runner in the past, and why you’re proud to be a runner now.  2018 is the year that we will all stop doubting ourselves, together. Because we’re better than that!

Look out from more from us on our #RunnerFullStop campaign in the next few weeks.

Happy New Year.

The “H” Word

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Headspace.

A 9 letter word that you will have seen scattered across our social media posts, and printed in bold letters on our running tees. It’s one of our favourite words at TMR, because it encapsulates that delicious feeling we seek when we run.

If fact we use it so often that sometimes we forget it’s still kind of a niche term. So it took us by suprise the other day when someone asked us what we meant by “headspace”. With our #EmbraceTheSpace Christmas campaign launching next week, we thought it was about time we dedicated a blog to explaining the magic H word…

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…which, actually, is not as easy as it sounds. How do you begin to explain a state of mind that everyone experiences differently?

The Oxford Dictionary Online defines headspace as “time to think clearly or to be free of pressures”, which gets the general idea across. But for our community of busy mums with so many pressures, headspace takes on a special importance.

So we called in the experts, and asked our wonderful team of volunteer Run Angels what the term headspace means to them. Nearly every Angel who replied spoke about running as a special time in the day when they are free to just be themselves.

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As Claire Tiley explained, headspace is “that glorious peace you experience when you are alone with your thoughts. Nobody asking you to do anything, or interrupting you, nobody shouting “Muuuuuuuuum” at you from another room. No emails bonging on your phone, whatsapps, texts demanding your attention. Just peace and quiet and knowing that this is 100% YOUR time.”

Simply focusing on putting one foot in front of the other for an hour literally gives your mind space to think through and process buried feelings, thoughts, and emotions…or to not think at all. It is a chance rediscover yourself in the fresh air. It’s a time to really breathe.d

And that’s why for many of the women in our community, running is so much more than just a way to stay fit. It’s a lifeline that gives them the focus and motivation they need to pull through challenging times. Much of the reason that 74% of runners generally say running has improved their mental health boils down to the magic H word. As our Run Angel Dahl Lee explains;

“I have ADHD and anxiety, and the only time my brain slows down and I feel like I can actually take some time for myself and not be panicky is when my arms are pumping, my feet are going and my lungs are properly working. Sometimes I have so many thoughts running through my mind and each thought is so all-encompassing… I need anything I can to give myself a bit of space… a bit of a break from myself. Physical activity is the only thing that I feel works for me. It gives me, literally, headspace. Where my brain can actually have a breather and not work hard to figure out why farts are so funny or why 1 ply toilet tissue exists.”

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So we think the most precious gift you can give yourselves this Christmas is headspace. And that’s what our Christmas photo competition #EmbraceTheSpace is all about; encouraging you to get some delicious moments of calm in the form of a run during the whirlwind of Christmas. 

 

We’ll be offering one running mum the chance to win a year’s subscription to the meditation app Headspace next week. All you have to do to enter is post a running selfie on our Facebook Wall between 25th and 31st December using #EmbraceTheSpace

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So come on ladies. Strap on your trainers, leave the in-laws far behind, and #EmbraceTheSpace this Christmas. 

You deserve it. 

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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