It was a rainy morning in late March when I first coaxed my overweight body into a tentative run. New trainers: check. Giant sports bra: check. Black leggings: check. Black baggy T shirt with comedy logo (because fat wimmin are just soooo funny): check. And finally, most importantly, a pair of oversized Shades of Shame to protect me from the mocking glare of passers by as I lumbered past them, the ground shaking in my wake.
That first run was not good. Despite the fact that my "duck waddle" version of running was actually slower than most peoples' walking speed, I could not manage 30 seconds without getting totally out of breath and feeling like I wanted to collapse - how was I ever going to run for a full minute? By the time I got to the end of the promenade, I was red in the face, wheezing and about ready to quit. Obviously I was too fat to run, best leave it to those younger and fitter than myself and go and join the water aerobics class instead.
I sat down on a bench to catch my breath whereupon a rather concerned PT and her protoge came over to enquire about my well being. "I'm a bit out of shape" I commented wryly, whilst trying very hard not to throw up. "Oh, I was just like you when I started" said the lady who was out with her PT "But I kept going and managed to run a marathon last year!" I looked at her somewhat incredulously. Here was a lady around my own age, obviously in better shape than me, but still curvaceous and clearly not an Olympic athlete. I thought to myself "Dammit, if she can do it - so can I!" We chatted for a while longer whilst I caught my breath, then I set off back down the promenade , walking for the length of one lamppost and then duck waddling to the next, still red and panting, but feeling more determined and focused then I had been before.
That was several months ago and I am now on week 4 of the c25k program. I still run like a duck and I still wear the same baggy comedy T shirt, but I no longer wear the Shades of Shame. Why? Because I am proud of being a fat woman who has taken the decision to start running (I am also not quite as fat as I was). I am starting to get to know the other people who regularly use the same run route as me and we often make eye contact, giving each other a little nod of encouragement or even a "thumbs up" as we pass.
And when I see someone larger, or older, or slower than me, I do not feel the need to point and stare (as I was worried that others were doing to me when I started) but I find them inspirational.
So if you are worried about what others may think - don't be. Just get out there and do it. Be proud and ditch those Shades of Shame because all of us, no matter how big or slow or unfit we may feel, are lapping those still sitting on the couch.