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

 

The TMR Year that Was 2016

Erm excuse me. Where the hell has 2016 gone? I’m sure it was only yesterday that we were saying goodbye to 2015, I blinked and now we’re sitting here in a Brie and Prosecco induced coma on the brink of 2017!!

Part of that is the groundhog day like nature of routines and school with young children.

And I’m sure that part of this feeling is just the sheer strangeness of 2016. Brexit! Trump!! The loss of so many familiar faces too – including my childhood hero and first ever female role model, the kick ass, bad ass, warrior princess Carrie Fisher and my (as it turns out misplaced) teenage crush George Michael

But it would not be an understatement to say that the super sonic pace that things have happened for This Mum Runs in 2016 have some part to play in this too. I am prone to exaggerate, but it’s no exaggeration to say that it has been the most life changing of my *ahem* humble 43 year long life.  I can also say hand on heart that it is the year that I am most proud of in my entire working life.

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TMR Yearbook: Class of 2016 – Tina Curtis

My name is Tina and I have just completed the This Mum Runs 5K+ course in Keynsham.

Tina, TMR Mum

I am 55 and trying to lose weight and get fitter. I have 2 grown up children and one who’s 15. I run my own Sign Company in Saltford, making signs, lettering vehicles, printing T shirts and mugs etc.

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October Mum of the Month -Karen Davies.

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The month of September has always been accompanied by change; in the weather, in the colour of the leaves, in the family routine as the children go back to school. And nowhere has this been more apparent than in TMR, where we saw a whole new brand fly onto the scene, new courses launch and our brand new online shop open for business. But as we enter October and relax into our new autumn routines, it’s a chance to take stock, and consider the changes that have taken place. With this in mind, there was one TMR member that stood out as the obvious choice as Mum of the Month for October, and that woman is Karen Davies.

Speaking on the phone, it’s clear that Karen’s views on attitude towards running complement the ideas behind TMR’s decision to re-brand last month. As a runner, her focus isn’t on putting pressure on herself to hit certain times or distances. She’s just happy to be outside, exploring parts of Bristol she’s never seen before in the 24 years she’s lived here. It’s refreshing to hear her say when asked about running goals that she wants to find new running routes around Bristol; it’s clear that she is running because she genuinely enjoys it. What matters to Karen is the chance to snatch some time for herself in the busy life she leads (and busy it is – it was a small victory to finally tie her down to a phone call!). In the hectic life of juggling motherhood with running Lets Make Art with fellow TMR Mama Alice Hendy, she says it’s nice to be able to “run away for an hour”.

A graduate from our couch to 5K course last spring, Karen admits that before the course she thought that the idea of running for 20 minutes was ridiculous. She reminisces about how she was late to her first homework run, and told the other mums that she would catch them up. Thinking they had done a full lap of Greville Smyth Park she attempted it herself, fighting off the urge to throw up and collapse into a breathless heap by the end. But she comments on how the course was cleverly structured so that it tricked you into being a runner without you even noticing it. She can now easily do several laps of the same park, and runs 5K two or three times a week with fellow couch to 5K graduate and running buddy Miranda Lovelock. She tells me they’re a great match in terms of pace and aren’t afraid to sometimes run side by side plugged in to some motivating (and, she readily admits, sometimes very cheesy) music.

And (you know we here at TMR love this stuff) Karen tells me she’s signed to do the Victoria Park run, intending to run the 2K with her 10 year old daughter. She says it’s great to see her children take an interest in her running, and thinks it will be good for her daughter to experience the sense of achievement that comes with completing your first race.

So, there we have it, our October MOTM. Karen is a perfect example of why TMR was set up, and why we made the decision to re-brand TMR last month; we want to help busy mums get up off the sofa, get active, meet new friends and grab some headspace. From all of us at Team TMR, thanks for keeping our vision alive!

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If you want to find out more about what Lets Make Art is all about, why not bring the kids along to their Big Draw Doodle Day this October? More info and tickets can be found here: https://www.picatic.com/doodleday.

TMR Yearbook: Class of 2016 – Charlie Pitts

-Each time I go out, I feel myself getting more confident that I can do this.- (2)

It’s week 3 of #MoreMumsRunning, and we know some of you might start getting cold feet around now. Whilst we here at TMR could talk about why you should stick at it till the cows come home, we thought you might like to hear it from a TMR Mama who’s been a victim of the week 3 fear, and smashed through it.

Just remember: if you’re a mum then you’re already a superhuman. A running course is nothing in comparison. So don’t give up…You. Can. Do. It!

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When it comes to exercise, I am a 3-hit wonder. No matter what new fitness regime I try, the same pattern emerges:

Week 1 – I turn up terrified, but survive with a rush of endorphins when I realise it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

Week 2 – decide this is it – this is the thing that will get me fit.

Week 3 – realise it’s actually quite hard work, that I haven’t immediately lost 2 stone and that I don’t feel any fitter than when I started. And so I give up.

So it’s no surprise that the first two times I tried a couch to 5k, I gave up after the 3rd week. My first attempt was a “Beginner’s running course” on the Downs. The instructor decided on week one that we should all “just run as far as we all can, to see how we get on”. As the majority of the “beginners” shot off into the distance, I transformed back into the 16 year old girl I had once been, at the back of the weekly school cross-country run, being yelled at by an unforgiving PE teacher in a badly-fitting tracksuit. To be honest, it’s a miracle I made it to week 3.

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My second effort was through TMR. I joined a lovely group of ladies, with two encouraging run makers on a chilly September evening. And as we got to the end of the first session, I felt the expected high; the “well, that wasn’t so bad”. I diligently did my homework runs and excitedly turned up for week 2. But the demons aren’t ever far away. For me, exercise is a burden, a chore. The thing I know I have to do, but the thing that I have struggled with more than anything else in my adult life. Since adolescence, exercise has been the last resort. I will use any excuse to get out of it. So, in October, excuses came up. I couldn’t do the homework runs. Then I stopped going to the weekly runs because I knew I was getting further behind. I told myself I’d catch up. I knew I was lying to myself.

So..attempt 3: 8 weeks of 8:30 Saturday morning sessions through TMR. My expectations of myself by this point were so low that I told my partner not to worry about being on the early parenting shift every Saturday, because I wouldn’t last the whole course. Except I did. A small group of like-minded, fabulously supportive mums, a fantastically encouraging run-maker in Vanessa MC and an exceptionally persistent Mel Bound who threatened to come to my house on week 4 and drag me to the park if I didn’t turn up voluntarily(!) proved to be the combination I needed to break my 3-week course. 3 weeks ago we finished the course. 1 week after that we met up at the same time again to hit the magic 5k.

So, where am I now? Completing the course is not the magic bullet for me. I jealously read the posts of people who see running as a delight, rather than a burden. But then, I’m dealing with a lifetime of insecurities around fitness. It is inevitable that I still have to talk myself into every single run. But each time I go out, I feel myself getting more confident that I can do this. It isn’t fast, it isn’t pretty, my legs ache, my lungs burn. And yet…occasionally…I get that moment…my stride, my breathing, the weather, the music I’m listening to..it all comes together and I feel…well…like a runner. And therein lies the growing glimmer of hope, that I’m heading towards enjoying this. And that makes the perseverance, the breaking of the 3-week course, all worthwhile.

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