My name’s Joey …

Hi all! My name’s Joey and I’m 27 years old. Originally from south east London I moved to Newport, South Wales 9 years ago for a one year long art course at The University of South Wales, fell in love with a welsh boy (who ironically enough wasn’t even at the university) and never looked back.

So 9 years on when people ask me where I’m from it’s “South Wales by way of South London” and yes I do always support Wales in the rugby – much to my father’s dismay.

I’m an English and Creative Writing graduate who loves documentaries and indulges in a rather guilty pleasure of romantic comedies featuring Hugh Grant, adores baking, watching Gilmore Girls and drinking cocktails. So far I’m not really sounding like a runner am I? Well here’s the dirty secret, until January 2016 I wasn’t. It was only meant to be a New Years resolution. I was meant to have forgotten about it by February, March at a push! But here I am, 11 months on and I’m training for a marathon having done my first half in October. So how did this all happen?

Well, one day in January I was flicking through Facebook, one of my daily addictions, and was checking out a page I’d kind of been admiring for a few months – ‘The Fat Girls Guide to Running’ www.toofattorun.co.uk. Now I’m not one to lie about it, I’m fat. I used to not be okay with that but little did I know that was all about to change because on a whim I signed up for their ‘5 weeks to 5k’ programme. “5 weeks isn’t that long!” I thought to myself, I figured I could kind of commit to 5 weeks. Plus it fitted in well as the final weekend was the weekend of the Saint David’s Day runs in Bute Park so if anything I’d get a medal out of it! So I signed up for that too. Long story short those 5 weeks changed my life. My body did things I never thought it could. At the end, I ran those five kilometres in a sub 40 minute time. The first time I’d ever ran 5k without stopping and the first time in a long time that I was proud of myself. That race will forever be the most important race I ever do because it started it all.
Plus, I got a medal, let’s not forget the medal!

I soon joined the ‘Fat Girls Guide to Running’s online running club – ‘The Clubhouse’ where I’ve met some amazing women, always encouraging and supportive no matter if the conversation’s about a running plan or I can’t decide what to wear out that night. These women gave me the confidence to sign up for races and virtually kicked me up the bum to go for runs when Jeremy Kyle seemed so much more inviting. In April I returned to London to join some ladies from The Clubhouse on cheering on those from The Clubhouse who were running The London Marathon. I’ve always loved the London Marathon, ever since I was little, we’d often go and cheer on the runners and even though I wasn’t a runner in the back of my head I always wanted to ‘run London’.

In May I did my first 10k, in August my first trail run and October my first half. In June I also did my Leadership in Running Fitness qualification because there’s not too many (not that there aren’t any) fat girls out there encouraging others to run. On the coach home from my first half (Royal Parks in London) there was a message on the Clubhouse Facebook page about five spots for the London Marathon for the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, I said yes and got one. The poor woman on the coach next to me trying to read her John Grisham novel must’ve thought I was crazy as I attempted to call my sister (whose 30th birthday happens to be the same day as the marathon) to check she wasn’t having her party on the 23rd. She isn’t. So I guess I’m running a marathon.

There’s a lot more I could write here, running with a long term illness (epilepsy in my case), running and mental health, being called fat and running, where to get really cool running clothes if you’re a plus sized runner, the list goes on and on but for now I’ll end with this. No matter your shape, your size, how fast or slow you are you can do it. If you come last in a race, you’ve still finished the race, if someone tells you that you can’t, use that as motivation to tell yourself you can because in January I was the laziest person you could’ve ever met, some days I still am, but now I proudly call myself a runner.

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