Bridget completed Learn to Run in 2017 and is now an active and valued member of Run Club and the Operation Move Community. Bridget originally shared her story in Run Club and it is reprinted here with her permission.
When I was asked to share my story my initial thought was to say no. Being a newbie runner I instantly had one of those, Who? Me? NOOOO moments, but then I remembered Run Club is not that type of group so here it is.
As with a lot of other runners I’ve met my path from there to here has not been linear. As a child/teen I definitely wasn’t sporty, no I take that back. I did like sports but I developed early so my large boobs and terrible low self-esteem saw me avoid it like the plague. The only thing I did with any consistency was horse riding. Like the big boobs the low self-esteem never left me. On the outside I was all things to all people but on the inside it was eating away at me and in turn I was trying to make it go away by eating. Add to that years and years of not taking care of myself and I ended up a 48 year old smoker, obese, with out of control anxiety, terrible sleeping habits and a nasty caffeine habit. I was also pre diabetic, had a thyroid that didn’t know if it wanted to be under or over active and was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. Needless to say I was a certified couch potato too.
Then I had a health scare, a “you’re being admitted to the cardiac ward” health scare. The kind of scare that makes you re-evaluate everything you’ve done with your life up until that point in time. I remember laying in the bed and thinking this can’t be my future, I’m only 48, I’m younger than the other people here by at least 30 years. I also had to contend with that horrible feeling that whatever was wrong with me I did it to myself. Fortunately this was only a warning of what was in store for me if I didn’t sort myself out so that’s what I did.
I made lifestyle changes like giving up smoking, I eliminated caffeine from my diet by switching to de-caff (I have since gone back to 1 or 2 real coffees a day ) and starting to make real effort getting my sleep patterns sorted out and managing my anxiety. I had already been working on getting my weight down but after this I upped my efforts although it did take another year and a bit until my head was fully engaged in the process. Again the bit from there to here wasn’t all smooth sailing, because you know “life”, but I really felt like I didn’t have much choice but to keep going, so that’s what I did.
In January 2017 I signed up to do a Step Bet challenge. I was telling my sister about it and she suggested I go to parkrun as it would help get my steps up plus she reckoned I would like it. So on the 21st of January I roped my husband in to coming with me and did just that. This is where my mindset took another positive turn. Here were runners of every shape, size, age and ability and this really challenged my thinking that I was too old, to overweight and too unfit to start running. Plus, and this was a big one for me, this is where I learnt that being self-conscious about what I looked like in workout clothes was a complete waste of time because in reality everyone is way more concerned with their own stuff. I also found everyone there supportive and encouraging. I was hooked.
And then I had the Operation Move Learn to Run May 2017 message pop up on my FB news feed (don’t you love how fate throw things in your path?) and with the tiniest flicker of hope that I could maybe become more of a runner than walker I signed up, loved it, loved everyone I was doing it with and never wanted to leave…lol, okay there were times I hated it, and my husband will attest that I would occasionally rant things like “I can’t possibly run that long, doesn’t Zoey know how old I am”…lol. I’m so glad though that I listened to Zoey & Kirsten, their patience and guidance, plus the support from the other women in my group is what kept me going.
Less than 12 months later I can actually feel a real shift inside me. I run now because it’s part of me, I appreciate that after the abuse I heaped on my body it will still let me do it. I love the way I feel after a run, even the horrible, painful ones. I love the way it makes me feel strong, I love the changes it is making to my body. I love the way it has helped me reconnect with my husband, the friendships I have made through it and for it giving me the courage to deal with some toxic relationships in my life. I love the way it pushes me beyond my own boundaries. I just love it.
I’m not so articulate when it comes to putting into words how much being part of this group means to me. I’m constantly learning about stuff like nutrition, about being more resilient against the negative voices in my head and about dealing with injuries and setbacks. I’m also constantly inspired by everyone else’s running endeavours and love the way it nudges me in to wanting to pursue my own, and so just like with Learn to Run I love it, I love everyone here and I never want to leave.