I am a women, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a little nurse doing her best. I have been broken and at times felt lost… but something changed when I found running.
In January a short while after becoming and Run Wales Champion and blogger I started a social running group, Run Bont, because it fills me with joy to get others out running, it's changed my life and I want to give that opportunity to others. When I started the group I was expecting a mixed bag but time and again it is the ladies who are turning up week in and week out, braving the wind and the hail and pounding the streets in the driving rain. Now that's not to say that we don't welcome the men. I am a lady who believes in true equality, not destabilising one gender in favour of another but bringing us all up to par with one another. Perhaps this is because I have been lucky to be surrounded by progressive thinking men in my life from my dad who did not see a little girl but instead a tiny mean fishing machine, my husband who see’s an equal, my son who tells me daily that he wants to be like me and do the things I do, the sports instructors over the years who did not allow my gender to define my capabilities pushing me for more, the trainer who said last night “more weight next time for that dead lift!”.
However, given that it is International Women’s Day and for many years women have been so under represented in sport it makes my heart soar to know that sports participation among women is increasing at a faster rate to that of our male counterparts taking up sports and I am part of this new generation changing the shape of active living as we know it. Here are some pretty impressive stats for all the lovely ladies out there contemplating taking up running… According to Women’s Running magazine regular running reduces your risk of breast cancer by up to 25% while reducing both gastric cancer and serious heart attack by up to 50%. In fact it is thought that running just 5 minutes per day decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 45%, increasing life expectancy by 3 years, wowsers! In the 1981 London Marathon, less than 300 of the finishers were women, fast forward to 2016 - over 100,000 women applied to run the same marathon, that’s a whopping 42% of all applicants and I am proud to say I was one of those women enjoying it so much so that I am going back for more this year.
I asked my lovely ladies from Run Bont why they run and here were some of the replies I got…
“I run to exercise my body and mind. It clears my mind whilst getting me fit. It also reminds me how important mental strength is. When you think you can't do that extra 1k or 5 minutes, and then you do it, it's all worth it.”
“I run to improve my mood! I'm often asked "do you need to run?" when I'm in a bad mood. It clears my mind and I can have a good sing song whilst I'm pounding the pavement. I also like to drink gin... gin is a great reward after running... running means I can have the extra few calories every now and again in gin form! In a nutshell, for happiness… and gin”
“So that I can go home and eat several digestive thins guilt free…”
Ahh, you see running burns twice as many calories as walking and reduces the risk of depression by an estimated 19% so you are definitely onto something there ladies. But here’s the one that got me the most…
“Because I can. Sounds silly but watching my son struggle to do simple things like ride a bike and never grumble or complain. I'm lucky enough I'm able to run. I love running so that's what I'm going to do.”
This, to me, doesn’t sound silly at all. There are those who physically can’t run and while western civilisation progresses there are still women the world over who are discouraged and stopped from actively taking part in sports, therefore why wouldn’t we run when we can? All I know is that since I found the therapeutic benefits of running from all those lovely endorphins swimming around my mood has been greatly improved, my anxiety decreased and I have become a more positive person. Not only that, running makes me feel like a kickass gladiatrix. “I love the person I've become because, I fought to become her”... and running helped get me there! I want more women to feel like this, to truly love themselves, to look in the mirror and recognise the amazing things our bodies are capable of not simply the parts of it we want to change. To feel invincible.
I am a women, I am strong, I am powerful, I am a force to be reckoned with. I have changed the impossible to possible, the inconceivable to inevitable! I am…