We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Tweetiness of Long Distance Runners

Are you a lone wolf or do you like to run with the pack? Most of us are a bit of both, but I have to admit, I like to run alone. I like the freedom to run just how I want to run, how far, how fast. I like to just let my mind go where it needs to focus. Running is the ultimate 'me' time when I worry about no one else and am totally self centred. My mind and body are free.

But there's a lot to be said for running together. Running with other people can be amazing. The friendly chats on the run, getting to know people as you pound the streets. Pushing yourself to get over the line before that woman who's been in frint of you all the way,  sprinting to the finish as the crowds call your name out. There is definitely a remarkable power of running with other people. You can go faster and further than ever before - and you might get a jelly bean too!

I've done Race for Life many times and every time it is undescribably wonderful and moving to be running with thousands of women, taking on cancer, sharing each other's experiences. My first half marathon reduced me to tears and I can still hear the ghostly echo of those trainers slapping along Portobello Prom. I hope the guy with the sore hip made it, we ran together for a while til he had to stop. The North Berwick Law Run was an experience, the crowd as I ran to the finish was just amazing, all cheering, mind blowing. But too short a race to make friends and dodging teenage lads throwing themselves down the slope at great speed was a bit too much excitement for little old me. Plus it's a bit depressing that I no longer find it thrilling when young men throw themselves at me.....

Even though I like to run alone, I do enjoy running with other people. And I like to share stories, opinions, laughs and tears. There are few things as beautiful as the connections we make with other human beings. Every single one of those links is totally unique, something special between us  And of course something remarkable happens when human beings come together.  Running whether it's a 5k or an ultra is a bond. But you don't have to run together to share the joys of running.

Since I started to run, I have been educated and inspired by runners on Twitter. The Twittersphere is overflowing with runners, from the elite world champions to the first time Race for Lifers. From the incredible Ultras to the 'blink and they're gone' runners. Triathletes, all round athletes, marathon runners, charity runners who run the world to raise thousands of pounds. Any and every type of runner you can think of is there and tweeting.

It's a pretty amazing community. You can ask them anything, someone will know the answer or have been through it too. They learn, they share.  When you're stuck you get advice and even a stiff kick up the butt if you need it. When you're down they support you and check you're ok. There's always someone out there and always a new friend round the corner.

I cannot begin to tell you what a source of inspiration and awe all my Twitter running chums have been to me as I took those first steps and gradually came to think of myself as a runner. Not just because of the amazing things they do, but also because of the way they cope with life's triumphs and disasters. The knee that packs in just before the marathon after months of training. The hamstring that keeps them from running for weeks and weeks. The stomach bug that floors them half way through the race. The performance plateau where they get stuck no matter how they try.

And do you know what makes it even better? The way they support each other, sending encouragement, advice; caring; cajoling; cheering up. Totally unconditional.   Some people criticise the virtual world for not being real. Well, the support and friendship I've had from my Twitter chums has been very real and very valued, the real world could learn a lot from some of the best of Twitter. It hit me this week when I met @boosterrockets on twitter. She's just started and it made me so happy to know that her running tweeps will be there for her every step of the way.

On Sunday, the real world and the Twitter world are going to come together for me for the first time and I am very excited.   It's the Great Edinburgh Run. My friend and fellow Tesco diet success story Carol is coming from Aberdeen for the race.  Not only that, but I am going to meet the totally lovely @runfeefofum, @dunsrunner, @runningjambo and @scotslassruns, my twitter friends, for the first time.    These folk whose runs and lives I've shared for most of the year will be real flesh and blood.  It's a big first for me and I hope the first of many times I meet my Twitter chums at real life runs.

So, okay I have lone wolf tendencies and I might run alone in the real world, but in the virtual world of Twitter, I'm not alone, I run with the pack. And what a pack! I have learnt so much from thier passion, their knowledge, their experience. And I've been cheered up and inspired beyond measure. Come and join us....

As I contemplate not getting into the Virgin London Marathon ballot and whether I should run for charity, I know I have the wisdom of my fellow tweeps to guide me. 

Finally, a big #shoutout to folks running marathons and other races this weekend. In particular Rhona who is doing her first ever Marathon at Loch Ness. Good luck Rhona, looking forward to reading all about it! And to Greig, whose first race is on Sunday on the Great Edinburgh Run.  Be great!

Take care and happy running!