Lisa’s Inspirational Story. Mum, self-employed, triathlon finisher and attempting a 100 mile bike ride!

IMG_8153Age: 45

Living with: 2 children, a fiancé and a terrier

Self-employed (part-time) developing and installing interactive and sensory trails at visitor attractions.

How sporty before 40? Always been active but never been fit – walking, playing racket sports, leisurely swimming and riding.

I call it the age of dawning, others may call it a mid-life crisis. For me, just into my 40’s several life experiences came together to all lure me into getting more active, getting fit.

The initial triggers were the post-baby belly that was still wobbling around my middle – we had been together for probably 20 years and it had probably become more pronounced after children. If I didn’t get rid of it soon, we would be stuck with each other for life! I was also starting to think a bit more about myself after coming through the fog of babydom.

A doctor friend made a passing comment, probably fatigued with my moaning about my midrift, that if I wanted to shift it I only needed to do 10-20 min jog 3x a week and it would disappear in no time. That seemed doable, despite always despising the idea of running. Things were about to change…

I bought some decent running shoes and some clothes – they felt good – I was ready to go!

I probably only managed 2x a week but even that was starting to wobble my jelly belly out of town. The effects were noticeable – a waist was starting to emerge. The belly was still there though. I kept going and was actually starting to enjoy it. Always off-road running, I found the sense of freedom from being outdoors was enhanced by running. Other little benefits were starting to become apparent – a stronger bond was forming with my dog (a terrier who used to have a tendency to go on unauthorised solo runs) was relishing the longer walks and the excitement that she seemed to get from me running – we were both out on the hunt together – me for a flat belly and her for anything furry or feathery.

I read a book called “Running” by Ronnie O’Sullivan (yes, the snooker player) and just a few snippets about his running experiences released more enthusiasm for this new-found hobby. One thing that triggered something in me was this: Once you get a bit fitter and your core muscles start to work, you start to run from your middle. This makes your leg feels lighter and you can feel like you are flying. The feeling may be fleeting in runs (generally when going downhill to start with) but once you’ve had that sensation – it is addictive. I wanted more!

In tandem with my running revolution my sister was having her own but our two worlds were about to come together. The year before I’d started running my sister broke her leg badly after a horse riding fall and was told she would never run again. She had never been a runner however this passing comment made by medical staff brought out in her the fierce determination of a bull wanting to beat a matador. She charged at that red rag! Using physio, massage, exercise bike and various other measures she pierced that matador and flung him over the fence. Fuelled by her determination to get full use of her leg back and to combat the pain that it had left her with she started to bike, and bike and bike. We met up for rides although admittedly at that stage it was mostly to chat and eat cake as my bike fitness was no match for hers. Then one day she said – “I’ve entered a 46 mile bike sportive” It’s just for fun she said but I don’t know that I can do it. Self doubt reared it’s head. But not enough to beat my sister – the next time I talked to her she had completed the ride (with ease it seems) and was booking herself on to do an 80 miler! RIGHT! I thought, astounded by her new found confidence, if entering an event does that, I’d better get on with it! And that’s how I came to enter a Sprint Triathlon (750m sea swim, 15 mile bike ride and 3 mile run) just 2 weeks before the event. I knew I could do each distance separately but wasn’t sure that I could do them all together, one after the other. I was scared! My goal was to finish.

I did it! It’s quite a strange thing but it seems to be common among people I’ve spoken to, that after the event you forget about your fear of failing and just have a burning desire to do it again, and quicker! As well as the medal, the sense of achievement you get stays with you. Priceless! Nothing seems unachievable any more.

Since then my sister is now running distances up to 10k, my belly has gone and we are going to be doing our first triathlon together. In July we are attempting a 100 mile bike ride in aid of the Marine Conservation Society. If you would like to sponsor us, please visit our Just Giving page to donate:

My advice if you think you might like to get fitter / firmer ….

  • Find your matador – mine was my long-term belly, my sister’s was “hard to accept” medical advice.
  • Start with a small achievable amount – don’t go crazy – there’s plenty of time for that.
  • Buy some clothes that make you feel good and decent shoes that look after you.
  • Stretch! Make sure it’s straight after exercise when your muscles are warm and make it part of your routine. It’s essential.
  • If you’re the social type – find some friends to go with or join a club.
  • Use an app to motivate you. I have fallen in love with Strava – it’s a free app for your phone that will map where you go and tell you how far you’ve been and how fast. You might think you’re improving in your head but the numbers will prove it. There is plenty more this app can do.
  • Always think of the great feeling you are going to get after you’ve exercised and not the effort it takes to get out.
  • Build time into your weekly routine.
  • Love it!

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