Why did you start running?
I had run a bit in the past but life had become very hectic at work and home so it was always the thing I let slip. My weight ballooned and three years ago I decided enough was enough. I had seen The Pink Ladies around town and inquired about joining but I put off the day until January 2013. When I weighed myself, I wasn’t surprised but I was horrified. I knew I had to commit to exercising regularly and simply get on with it.
How did you start running?
I joined HRT on 6th January 2013 in the 3 mile Saturday morning group. I felt petrified but well supported.
Valerie “ran” the three mile route with me and I struggled with every step. I was at the back of the group and had a light-bulb moment. I simply decided I didn’t want to be at the back anymore in any aspect of my life. I wanted to find my own space and achieve something. My eldest son wrote me some rules which included running every week and running on my own to improve my self motivation
How does running make you feel?
Running makes me feel so many things, it’s hard to sum up. Initially, it gave me space to work a lot of things out in my mind (and it still does). It makes me feel completely liberated and happy. I love the rhythm of running, the conversations I have with the friends I’ve made and the supportive network I’m part of. But, I also enjoy running on my own and exploring the wonderful area we live in. Seeing the season’s change is magical. I also run wherever I travel and my HRT vest has been to Australia, France, Italy, Majorca, Scotland and numerous places in England!
You’ve lost a lot of weight since you started running more, how did you do this?
I combined running regularly with halving what I used to eat. I cut out nearly all sweet things and replaced meat with fish whenever possible. As the weight started to come off, I could run faster and further and this helped bring my weight down more – a virtual circle! I accepted plateaus and didn’t panic if my weight stayed the same for a month or so. I lost 3 stone in that year and have lost another stone since. My weight fluctuates about half a stone now but it’s under control which feels great.
What difference has the weight loss made to your running and how you feel generally?
The weight loss gave me confidence to enter races and take on challenges I never dreamed would be possible!
In terms of how I feel generally, I feel like the person I used to be. I’m about the same weight as when I got married – a bit heavier. People who haven’t seen me since then don’t think I’ve changed. People I haven’t seen for a few years don’t recognise me!
What do you feel is your greatest running achievement?
Running The British London 10k for a charity close to my heart. I was part of The Compassionate Friends’ team and set myself a goal to run under one hour. I think I did 58 minutes and raised £1300 for a very worthy cause.
Why did you decide to enter the London Marathon?
I ran the Reading Half in March and was thrilled with my time but vowed I would never run a marathon. Then I thought, why not? A work colleague ran it last year and said it was the best day of her life. She bought me the book “Running Like a Girl” and messaged me when entries were open. I didn’t get a ballot place but applied to a few charities I support. I’m now part of #teamprincestrust and training is underway. I’m excited and terrified in equal measure! Any support is welcome but I’m not actively seeking sponsorship until I’ve run 18 miles…
Anything else you think might motivate others to give running a go?
I wish I had discovered my love of running earlier. It has changed my life and if I can do it, believe me, anyone can!
Thank you so much Sarah for this fabulously motivating interview and good luck in the London Marathon.
Do you fancy joining us? http://www.runwithharri.co.uk
On April 24th this year I will be joining zillions of others who have spent the previous months pounding the streets and trails in preparation for the 2016 London Marathon. This will be my fourth time of running it. My first was in 2007 and I never in my wildest dreams believed that I would ever run it again. Ever. But I did. And I’m doing it again. This time for Gorillas.
Throughout my life, the welfare of animals has always been important to me. Compassion and love for them. As a child I plastered my bedroom walls with pictures of animals. No popstars. Just animals. And the one that featured the most was the Gorilla. Actually it was a white, albino one. I had a childhood fantasy of living alone on a mountain, somewhere hot, surrounded by animals – no humans. Hippos featured quite a lot as did wild cats – not sure how either would live on a hot mountain – I obviously hadn’t thought it through!
I was a member of the RSPB and RSPCA and the WWF from an early age. I became vegetarian and later (recently) vegan. So this year I am running the marathon for the Gorilla Organization who work internationally to protect the world’s last remaining gorillas in their natural habitat in central Africa. They work closely with local communities to actively deal with threats such as deforestation, the effects of climate change and poverty.
These extraordinary, beautiful, creatures could soon be extinct. It breaks my heart. We have to save them.
So if you feel you could sponsor me I would be very grateful, thank you. Fundraising page
As someone who advocates and embraces a plant based diet and who doesn’t drink alcohol, I haven’t given anything up for January. Yay!
But I take my hat off to those of you who are making positive health changes this month. It’s not easy. I know, I’ve been there.
When I became Vegan last year I lost weight without even trying. This was like a small miracle to me! Although weight loss wasn’t my primary reason for changing my diet.
I had more energy and felt that I was finally doing something positive for the planet and animal welfare – two things very close to my heart. If you think this is something you might like to try, have a look at Veganuary, nearly 13,000 people have signed up and everything you need to get started is on their wonderful website: Veganuary
Brad Pitt, Sarah Pascoe and Romesh Ranganathan are all publicly giving it a go too – so you’ll be in good company!
Throughout the year I hold Fitness Days here in Marlow, Bucks where my clients get to sample Vegan food and discover the benefits of plant based eating – if you fancy knowing more, take a look at my website: Pilates and Running Fitness days
I gave up drinking alcohol 6.5 years ago. However, this New Year I broke with sobriety and had a glass of fizz. I wanted to see if I would immediately need to drink the whole bottle, which I would have easily done in the past. Thankfully I didn’t. And I didn’t enjoy the fizz at all, it made me feel ill. Which I have to admit was really, really disappointing at the time!
But in the long term I am relieved. I really don’t need to drink any more.
Giving up alcohol for a month was not something I could ever have considered when I was drinking. I am a bit of an all or nothing person. One glass was never enough. So good luck if you are staying dry for January – your body will thank you. And given today’s news about Britain facing a ‘timebomb’ of serious illnessess such as dementia, brain damage and liver disease caused from alcohol abuse, now might be a good time to stake stock!
And if all this comes across as a bit preachy, I don’t care!
As midnight strikes on the 31st December, do you make a list of all the things that you’re going to change in your life?
Or do you just shrug your shoulders and carry on as before because you know from experience that resolutions frequently fail.
But a new year can be a good time for a fresh start. Just turn the page. And begin. The secret is to make your resolution for the right reason and make it achievable.
If you want to lose weight, be realistic – losing a stone in a week only happens in our dreams. Most resolutions fail because we set ourselves such impossible tasks! Change that desired weight loss to a smaller goal and you will be successful.
However, I have an achievable task that you won’t fail at…
Howsabout taking up Pilates in 2016?
Pilates is a funny sort of exercise though. And I know for some it still conjures up images of the grey-rinse brigade who have nothing better to do with their time but lie around in lycra doing odd looking leg-raises and occassionally farting.
My classes are full of all sorts of different types of people. athletes, runners, cyclists, Tae kwon do‘ers, walkers, highflyers, home makers, superstars, world leaders, you name it – they’re in my class. Okay, maybe the last two aren’t true… And not all are women. Pilates is for everyone. And I mean everyone. It’s an amazingly powerful form of exercise that can be life changing on all sorts of levels. And the secret to getting the most out of it, is understanding it.
But to understand it you need to practise it…So what are you waiting for?
Come and join me in 2016. Make it your new year’s resolution and I’ll help you stick to it!
If you need some motivation to start running in 2016 then here’s some!
A recent study published in Gerontology claims that older women (hmmmm, I’m one of those I think…) who have strong legs tend to fare better when it comes to the ageing brain – Dr Claire Steves studied 324 healthy female twins over a ten-year period from 1999, measuring various health and lifestyle predictors.
‘Thinking, learning and memory were measured at both the beginning and end of the study and it was found that leg power was a better predictor of cognitive change than any other lifestyle factors tested. Generally, the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study sustained their cognition better and had fewer brain changes associated with ageing measured after ten years’.
So that means more hill running and squats and evil intervals in 2016 for Harri’s Running team then!
Although the majority of my clients are women I am definitely seeing more men joining our classes and benefiting from this wonderful form of exercise.
Is Pilates for men different than for women? No! Not at all. Everyone works to their own ability and exercises are adapted accordingly. Men generally have tighter hamstrings and a narrower pelvis but other than that, there is no difference.
Pilates was created by a man, Joseph Pilates. He was a gymnast, boxer and military trainer and archive pictures of him in his eighties show a very strong, lean physique.
The Pilates exercises were originally devised for soldiers, boxers and athletes before he moved more towards teaching injured ballet dancers and actors.
“These [Pilates] exercises are really very necessary when you do a lot of sitting… They keep you flexible enough to pull on your socks as you get older… When I get out of the car now, I don’t go arrggghhh…” Martin Amis, novelist and twice-a-week Pilates devotee
The All Blacks and the Welsh Rugby Union is among the high-profile advocates of Pilates…
Alongside Andy Murray who turned to Pilates for help with his recurring back problem.
Pilates is incredibly powerful and compliments all other forms of exercise. Over time, core strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and posture will all be improved. Joseph Pilates himself said: ‘You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions’.
So why not buy your Father, brother, partner, son, friend, a Christmas voucher for a Pilates class?
It might just change their life!
Oh, and you can buy a voucher from me if a local Marlow class is what you’re after…
I love the start of a new 12 week beginners’ running course. Watching those who start out believing that running is such a hard thing to do – but suddenly realize, after a few sessions, that actually it doesn’t have to be.
But I appreciate that actually choosing to join a group and then getting out there for the first session can be very scary. Lycra clad beanpoles spring to mind and the predictable gremilin-like self-doubt follows. This is usually alongside body image anxieties. How many times have I heard someone say to me ‘I am so slow – I will be at the back’ or ‘I’m the wrong shape to run’…Nobody is slow or the wrong shape. And anyway I always tell my beginners to start off ‘silly slow’. Whatever your shape or size your body needs time to adapt. And I promise you it will.
So today as over two thousand people lined up to run our local 5k charity Santa Fun Run, it was just wonderful to see those once doubtful beginners run the distance. And do it with style. Albeit dressed in a Santa suit.
Running is an amazing sport. It is accessible to all. Old and young. Fit and not so fit. Big and small. It can provide freedom and a sense of self. Friendships are forged. It’s fun and funny too. We laugh a lot and moan a lot. But most of all it’s life-enhancing.
Research has shown that running improves memory, slows the ageing process, protects against certain diseases, can relieve stress and depression and is just generally a great thing to do for mind, body and spirit! Give it a go and see!
Our next 12wk beginners’ running sessions here in Marlow, Bucks. start on January 13th – you can find out about all the groups we hold and our beginners’ sessions here: Harri’s Running Team
When I first started running there were no quirky notebooks for runners…and anyway not sure why I would need one – or specially designed hangers for medals to hang from. No silver jewellery imprinted with race times or motivating quotes. No necklaces with charms attached stating how far I had run or wished to run – so I had a look around the wonderous, magical world of t’internet and came up with the following…
A notebook! Yes, dear reader, a notebook…with a difference. It has a label on the front stating that you run! Cost £10 + postage and you can buy this at: notonthehighstreet
Or if you prefer something a bit more motivating, there’s always the ‘Believe Journal’ – from Amazon here: Believe Journal cost is £13.99.
Next up are motivational tags – you can attach these to your laces. So when you reach that point in a race where you’re shuffling, thinking you’re about to die, staring at your feet – you’ll spot these strategically placed tags and you’ll be magically motivated to sprint to the finish! Oh yes.
These are sold on Etsy by: Emma – she does lots of other silver tag printing too. These cost £10 plus shipping.
And here we have a personalised Christmas ornament – okay, I suppose for the runner who has absolutely everything this might be a novelty. So I’ll include it in my list of quirkiness! Again, this can be found on Etsy (I like Etsy!) It is made and sold by: Doodlepopdesigns £10 + shipping.
Then there’s the race medal holders – I have several of these, all groaning with bling, hanging in my downstairs loo! And actually I love them. There are all sorts to choose from – one of mine says ‘Just One More Race’.
I love these arm warmers – printed with whatever logo/message you like and shipped from the US – £13.62 + p&p – maybe we should have some made up for Harri’s Running Team – they come in different colours and are sold by Running on the wall ….now, what could we have printed on them?
Of course there’s always a mug around at Christmas!
This one is is £6.99 +p&p and you can find it here at The Wall Sticker Comp
You can put all these gifts into a Christmas stocking designed especially for runners!
This can be bought from LorraineRDesigns and I think it’s really funky! £13.63 + shipping…odd price though!
There’s a wonderful book called ‘Mind Gym – the athlete’s guide to inner exellence’ that I have sitting on my bookshelf. It’s written by Gary Mack with David Casstevens and although very American it provides useful tips on building mental muscle. Training your mind, whether a 5k or a marathon runner, can pay dividends.
The ‘I can’t do it…’ self-limiting voice that sneaks into our psyche when racing, for instance, can be replaced over time with a positive mantra.
The best, most comfortable and fastest marathon I ever ran was definitely helped by all the positive self-talk and imagery I’d practised during training. We are so scared of failure in our lives that sometimes the habit of belief in our abilities, or self, becomes non-existant.
Our brains can sabotage our emotions and outlook on life. But we can change it. We can choose how we look at things and even rewire our thought processes. By changing ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ you’re at the start of a very exciting breakthrough.
The next time you’re out running or racing and you find yourself doubting your ability, turn those negative thoughts on their head. Look forward, lengthen through the spine and feel tall as you run. And keep telling yourself over and over that you can do it. It works.
I love poetry. It makes me happy. Especially if it is humorous.
But the creative side of my brain has been dormant for about two years and it is time to prod it back into life. So here you are, my silly poetry offering for PINK Friday…dedicated to children everywhere.
On the planet of Quill
Is a colourful place
Where no one gets ill.
There’s also no wars
No asbos or drugs
The Quillans use giggling
To fight off their bugs.
If they feel a bit low
Or under the weather
With his magical feather.
He’ll tell a good joke
Then tickle their tums
Until giggling is heard
Coming out of their bums.