I first started running when I was 22 and had replaced cigarettes for baguettes and cream cheese. Before long I could not fit into my clothes. Luckily for me, the place I was working at had a gym on-site. To my shame, I discovered that I was so unfit, it would be dangerous for me to try running on the treadmill. I was instructed (by the awesome Elle, who was my fitness inspiration and is still my biggest girl crush of all time) to power-walk, then add a slope in slowly.
The first time I ran, I only managed ten minutes, and that was because ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ was on the TV in front of me, which kept me going. Before too long, I could run for the length of a whole episode.
I continued to run on a treadmill, and used it to lose excess baby-weight after my three girls. I will never be able to lose the loose skin on my tummy, but I find running the best all rounder for weight-loss, tone and endorphin rush.
My running, along with pretty much everything else, came to a halt when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis three years ago. I was unable to get out of bed on my worst days. On better ones I could make it to the sofa.
It took a long time to get my RA under control. By the time the inflammation had been controlled and the pain was at a level I could cope with, my feet were left clawed and my toes ‘cocked’. I needed to start working them again to stop more damage. It was time to get off the sofa.
So I got a puppy. Sounds ridiculous I know, but it was the right decision. Buddy and I started out doing five minute walks round the block. It took a long time, but he is now my running partner and we do 10k three times a week side by side.
I can honestly say that running saved my life. It has been my escape. No matter how sad, let down, angry or hurt I have been, running always makes me feel better.
When I do the school run, I leave the house laden down with book bags, lunchboxes and PE kits. When I go running I am free of all baggage. All I need is a pair of trainers and my ipod. No gym membership, no instructor shouting at me from the front of a class.
I run with my heart beating in time to the music while my troubles trickle out my trainers and get blown away by the wind.
Running makes me more patient with my children. They can’t wait till they are old enough to head out with me.
It’s not about how far you go, or how good you look in your lycra, it’s about how you feel inside. I implore any mum feeling overweight, overburdened or overwhelmed to lace up their trainer, tighten their sports bra and get outside.