The Fat Girls’ Guide to Running Runner of the Month

Hm, so I’m The Fat Girls’ Guide to Running‘s Runner of the Month. I am absolutely chuffed to bits that someone in the Clubhouse nominated me and that everyone seemed to agree that I should be it. Chuffed to bits but bemused… so let me explain. Oh and just a warning – I have got a hideous cold, I haven’t been out running, I should have been going to a party to celebrate one of the most loveliest and most supportive people I know and I’m not because of this cold and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and emotional and have been thinking too much.

I mentioned that before Christmas I decided to sign up for the Countdown to Christmas challenge run by Julie Creffield – the woman behind the too fat to run brand who runs the Fat Girls’ Guide to Running community and its virtual running club called the Clubhouse. I thought a challenge that had me doing something health and fitness related every day in December would give me something positive to focus on while I was off work sick and trying to get my head screwed on right. Well I loved the Countdown to Christmas – and I was surprised that I did. I am not a hugely sociable person. I roll my eyes at online clubs and communities and I wasn’t expecting to really like the people. I was there for the challenges… Anyway, the people on that countdown were just lovely and many already belonged to the Clubhouse – so I signed up.

What I got from the Clubhouse was immediate and unconditional support. Support from women who know what it is like to put your running gear on and then sit on the sofa and cry because you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror; women who have the same fears, anxieties and questions. I instantly felt that I could share that we were not only attempting the marathon but the Dopey Challenge – not something I had wanted to share with anyone else. I had been a member for less than a month – just a couple of weeks in fact when we did Dopey and the Clubhouse community made it less scary. I posted updates and comments about how I was feeling before and after every race and I drew a huge amount of energy from the supportive messages that came back. Not something I would have thought was possible before I joined. The group even tracked me on marathon day posting updates to keep the group informed. It’s hard to explain what that means to me – you know the me that was always always picked last at sports because nobody really wanted the crap fat kid on the team – suddenly there is a whole group of people who are right behind you, believe you can do it and desperately want you to succeed.

So the Clubhouse is currently the best £10 per month I spend on my health and wellbeing but I am totally bemused by the Runner of the Month thing. The intro calls me incredible and speaks of determination and grit, amazing and awesome are other words used. Words I struggle to link to me or me running Dopey. Yes I ran Dopey, I really did, and I go look at the medal every now and again to check I didn’t dream it – but I just did what I did. I’m not special, I don’t warrant all this… when I think about this my brain just refuses to acknowledge that Dopey is a big deal. But it is. 48.6 miles in 4 days a year after not being able to run at all is a massive deal and I would be so so proud of anyone who did that. In fact I am so proud of Kath who took every single step with me, so proud of each and every one of my fellow 2016 Dopeys, so proud of the lovely Jacqui who ran the last third of the half marathon with us and yet I am somehow not really proud of myself. You see I’m just me and I’m not an awesome, amazing incredible woman with grit and determination, I’m just me. And maybe that’s the point that’s important here.

You see, if  little (ok large) average me can complete the Dopey Challenge then you can too – whoever you are and whatever you think you can and can’t do right now. So I’m trying to welcome the limelight and attention from being Runner of the Month but I’d like to think of it like this: What I did was awesome, what I did was amazing and incredible, what all of us Dopeys did over those 4 days three weeks ago was a fucking huge deal BUT and you better be paying attention to this – BUT I am no different to you. I have the same self-doubt, the same anxieties, the same ‘I can’t do this’ days and the same ‘fuck it I’ll have a glass of wine and another chocolate’ attitude. You see, if you see me as some sort of superwoman you are giving yourself permission to not try, to keep sitting on the sofa, to not change – if you recognise me for what I really am, just another overweight woman giving it a go, then we can go on this rollercoaster of a running journey together just putting one foot in front of the other as fast or slow as we want for as long as we want and that is fucking awesome.