After enduring excruciating back pain for years, I was eventually diagnosed with double curvature of the spine, a reversed curve in my neck and Lumbar Scoliosis. These conditions affect every part of my body, with the pain varying day-to-day: I’m always in pain, just some days are more bearable. Sometimes the pain can be so agonising that by the end of the day, I’m simply too exhausted to even eat. The hardest part for me is breathing; living with a reversed curve means my spine curves inwards, making even the simplest task of breathing very difficult.
The spinal conditions have affected my mental wellbeing too. In my early 20s, the combination of physical pain, mental suffering and a family issue culminated in my suicide attempt.
I didn’t want to die, but I honestly felt like I had no other option. I am lucky and thankful every day that I survived my suicide attempt.Running has played a large role in my recovery – despite doctors frequently telling me how surprised they are that I am able to run with the curves in my spine. I first joined Fitmums and Friends when I was about 18. Before this, I couldn’t even run a mile, I didn’t own correct shoes or a sports bra! But every week I still went and gave it my all, eventually building up my confidence and mileage thanks to the support of East Hull club coordinator, Duncan, and the rest of the team.
Since then I have participated in 17 half marathons. In 2021, I decided to raise money for Mind by running the virtual Royal Parks Half Marathon in April, and then the actual event in October.
Running with Fitmums helps me cope mentally and physically with my conditions. It gives me the chance to clear my mind and I always feel so much better after a run.
I joined Fitmum’s at the start of 2017 and before this, like a lot of men, I only ran if I was chasing a ball playing Football, Tennis or Rugby, but the idea of just running, no that wasn’t something I had ever entertained the idea of.
My wife, Michaela initially got me info Fitmum’s after she joined herself in 2016, she always came back buzzing after an evening spent their, my first contact with Fitmum’s was volunteering as a Marathon Maker for the Hull marathon in 2016 and I loved their enthusiasm and commitment and had a great day, it was after this and a bit of cajoling from Michaela that I agreed to attend a session at Boothferry. I must admit I was slightly apprehensive, one it was a running group and two it was called Fitmums so I was guessing it was just going to be full of ladies. Well all of my fears were quickly dispelled, they were men there and it wasn’t a running club, it was a social club that went running, it was amazing. The enthusiasm and support from the leaders is amazing and infectious and you can’t help getting wrapped up in it.
Over the past 11 months I have completed Fitmums 5 in 5, Fitmums 365 challenge, I have completed 16 miles in Hell On The Humber, I was part of a Fitmums relay team in the Hull Marathon and I have just completed my first 10k and all of these were wearing my Fitmums T-Shirt. I have also been able to represent Fitmums at a Men’s health event in Hull promoting Mental and Physical wellbeing and how good it is for you.
I feel very fortunate to be part of the Fitmums family and am looking forward to the challenges we will complete together over years to come.
I was made aware of Fitmums having asked a experienced runner, a female neighbour of mine what running groups she belonged to. I was wanting to give running a try having reached the grand age of 54 and knew I needed to do more to get and stay fit. My neighbour Kay, told me to consider Fitmums and Friends and explained that they support and welcome all abilities and always ensure no on gets left behind as they have this Shepherding system where the front runners , turn and return to the back of the running group. Now this seemed far more appealing to a would be huffer and puffer than being left for dust by some testosterone fueled supermen at my local athletics club.
I was made very welcome at Beverley fitmums and have also taken advantage of attending other fitmums groups and feel just as welcome as part of the fitmums family. It is amazing how from last May wanting to do no more than 3 mile runs , that with the support and friendship of Fitmums, I soon found myself adding a mile or so to my distance every few weeks and now regularly enjoy the 6 mile routes. Outside of Fitmums I will now weekly take on a 10 or 12 mile run.
So what has Fitmums and Friends done for me and what are the benefits. Well clearly my physical fitness levels have massively improved but I know my overall sense of well being and mental tenacity are at an all time high. It is so easy to focus on losing a few pounds and building muscle capacity etc but the gain to mental well being and how it helps me cope with day to day challenges surpasses those obvious benefits.
When you take on a running challenge as I recently did in my first ever formal 10K at Beverley, then you are going to at times feel like slowing down, easing off up that incline but you dont you press on to the end. Well that tenacity now transfers to my day to day challenges and the same tenacity really helps to push you on and achieve your goal or maybe just have more capacity and offer a helping hand to others.
My personal running highlight so far for 2017, was finishing my running 365 mile challenge in just under the 3 month time scale that I had set myself, ok my leg muscles paid the price and have complained a little but at 55 what can i expect, I did though get a very nice shinny 365 medal taken with a lovely group of Fitmums.
Finally its amazing just how many extra people I now know locally, I have either waved or spoken to at least four or five Fitmum members today whilst out in Beverley now just adding to the sense of belonging to your community could in itself be worth considering giving Fitmums a try.
As I tell my friends, there are worse ways to spend an hour or so on a Tuesday morning than a nice healthy run out with 15 Fitmums and then have a coffee and chat afterwards.
One of the Christmas presents I got in 2013 was a years membership of Fitmums & Friends. What a great gift this turned out to be for a whole host of reasons! Here are some of them:
Take a look at the recent University of Cambridge research conducted over twelve years across Europe. This research found that there were twice as many deaths per annum from inactivity than from obesity. By taking at least a 20 minute brisk walk each day, we can reduce inactivity deaths by 7.5% and a brisk walk gives substantial benefits to health, fitness & wellbeing.
So in conclusion why not join Fitmums & Friends? I can guarantee you will get fitter, make lots of new friends, find a supportive environment for achieving your exercise goals, have fun, and have the opportunity for personal development, attending social events & making a difference to others lives.
Jan - Fitness Walk Leader, Run Leader, Volunteer Supporter (PND Support Scheme) Cottingham Fitmums & Friends.
I joined Hedon Fitmums & Friends when it first started in August 2014. I had never run before. At school I hated running, I was always last and I never got picked for anything. I'm guessing by my nickname, 'Tina the ten to tank', it was because I was overweight.
The very first night I was in the 1 mile group and struggled to run the whole mile. Since then I have moved up quite a few times and I'm now in the 6 mile group. Recently I went out with one of the run leaders Paul and I did my first 11 miles. I can't believe how fit I've become and how much more confidence I've got since that first week. I've made so many friends since joining. This year I've lost 3 stone and this week I'm hoping to have reached my target weight.
I think Fitmums & Friends is a great group. Everyone is so supportive no one judges you. Everyone I meet, I tell them about what the group is like and try and encourage others to join. Thanks!
Tina - Runner [Hedon Fitmums & Friends]
I have been up and down with my weight since I was 18. Fluctuating between 2 stone and putting on 4 and half stone when pregnant with my daughter. During that time I had joined gyms, tried different diets, and always ended up putting weight back on eventually and then starting again. In the summer of 2013 I started my latest fad of swimming where I met Anushka. She used to turn up swimming after her session at Fitmums and I always thought she was crazy. Anytime I had tried to run in the past I ended up a mess and couldn't breathe etc. My famous words were 'I cannot run to save my life'. How wrong was I! I plucked up the courage in October 2013 to go along with Nush to East Hull Fitmums and see what the fuss was about. Once I walked through the doors that day I met Lynne.
I completed my first mile non-stop on that first session, I moved up to 2 mile the next week then 3 week after. The support you get from everyone is amazing and there were so many inspirations in the room anything felt possible. Every week I got better, moving up and completing parkruns getting personal bests.
I entered my first 10k in March 2014 for Sport Relief. It was a horrid day and 6 laps round a field. It should have put me off for life. Since then I have completed several 10ks, 3 half marathons and now I'm in training for the Manchester marathon and at the time of writing my longest run to date is 18.5 miles along with Lynne and Nush - together we are the 3 musketeers.
Once I got passed 6 miles at Fitmums & Friends and I knew my capability I decided to give something back to the club and try and help other people like the Leaders helped me. In July 2014 I completed the Leadership in Running Fitness course to become a Run Leader. I feel so humble to be able to help others in the way I got help and was encouraged. To see others complete goals and achieve things they didn't think was possible is so amazing. In this time I lost around a stone and have been able to use my running to maintain a healthy weight.
Fitmums & friends really is one big family and I am so grateful to be a part of such an amazing club.
Kirsty - Runner & Run Leader [East Hull Fitmums & Friends]
I had stopped running regularly in June 2010 when the need to balance family commitments, work & university studies took over my time. This was after I had run my very first 10K race in Hull. However, as I ran alone; for fear of holding others up; I had no one to commit to running with. As I had also just got married again I was contented so running went to the bottom of the important list!
Late last year, after losing 2 stone in weight, I decided I needed to start running again; and a friend at work had mentioned she had joined a new running group in East Hull and asked me to join her. Initially I felt worried about holding others up as I had not run for over 3 years; so I started running alone. My first 1.5mile run at the end of October took me 17 minutes; huffing and puffing and lungs a burning! I just felt accomplished that I hadn't stopped at all even though my body was telling me to stop and walk!
I eventually plucked up courage to venture to East Hull Fitmums and Friends on 12th November last year and have never looked back since. I picked up my mileage quite quickly and my pace and stamina too. Some weeks were tougher than others; however the amazing support and encouragement from all of the run leaders and fellow runners phenomenal. Initially I worried I was holding others up and was actually mortified that the front runners had to shepherd back for me when I was plodding on at the back. However, 2 very special ladies and leaders supported and reassured me and persuaded me to return the week after my 'wobble'! Thankfully I listened to them and went back again for another go! I ran in between too and by January I was running the 5K park runs on a Saturday morning.
Throughout this year my running has gone from strength to strength and I constantly amazed myself with my achievements. The social side of Fitmums has also become a great part of my life as I have made some very good friends; friends for life. As a relatively new resident of Hull this has been a great help to me in terms of meeting new people who have similar ethos and outlook. I now enjoy running with others more than when I run alone. I have also encouraged others to start running and join the Fitmums family including my daughter-in-law (who is now also a new run leader!).
In relation to encouragement and support; this is the other element of Fitmums that I love; I enjoy helping others the way I have been helped, supported and inspired over this last year. In July I decided to put myself forward for the run leader course (Leadership in Running Fitness) with the full support of Nikki Dunlop and financial support of Fitmums. It was a great course and I learnt so many techniques; thoroughly enjoyed the day's training.
My first shadow run lead was extremely daunting especially as I was being supported by Nikki (East Hull Coordinator) AND Sam Barlow (Founder of Fitmums!). Oh my word! Talk about no pressure to get it right!!! It all went well thankfully; and once my DBS checks were through I was let loose on my own! There have been lots of laughs along the way and a few tears; especially during my first 5 mile lead when I ended up missing a turning and making them run almost 5.6miles because the group were so excited about doing 4 lots of Indian Files)!!
Personally I have lost another stone in weight so far, ran the Hull 10k, knocking 7.5 minutes off my 2010 time and the Scarborough 10K. I have booked onto the Hornsea 1/3rd marathon next April and plan to do the Humber half plus a few more 10ks in 2015. Running is now ingrained in my weekly plan and even when I lose my 'mojo' my friends offer support and plan runs whenever practically possible, giving me the kick up the proverbial that I occasionally need!! Fitmums & Friends is an amazing community of like-minded people and more people should take up running!
Kirsty - Runner & Run Leader [East Hull Fitmums & Friends]
My Fitmums Journey, wow, where do I start! Well I guess that day in September 2013 when I walked into East Hull Fitmums at Myers club. Why did I do it? I'm still not 100% sure. I was overweight and unfit, just the day before I'd nearly killed myself running for the bus. My weight loss journey had started the year before. Dieting and swimming I'd lost 2 ½ stone but some of that had crept back on and I knew it was time to try something new, but running! Really? Me? Yet here I was, I dug out some ancient trainers and jogging bottoms and stood there terrified I was going to completely humiliate myself by trying to run 1 mile. This was going to be tough.
That's when the magic happened. I was surrounded by smiley, friendly faces. Some like me were nervous at the task ahead, but everyone was confident that this challenge was achievable. I remember looking across at the higher mileage groups thinking how crazy they all where, why would anyone want to run more than a mile! I was met by my run leader and was introduced to the rest of the group running one mile and off we went. Possibly the toughest 15 minutes of my life, but also the first 15 minutes of my new life. I went home on a complete high. So that was me hooked. Quick trip to the sports store the next day to get kitted out and I counted down the days to my next run.
So that's how my journey started. I was encouraged and supported each week. By Christmas I was running 3 miles with ease. I'd made lots of new friends. My confidence had grown and the weight had started to drop off. I'd also taken a huge step and entered my first race, the Jayne Tomlinson 10k for the following June. By the January I'd moved up to the 4 mile group, with my confidence through the roof I entered my first Half Marathon for the May!! I remember thinking I must be Mad!! But again the Fitmums run leaders and my fellow Fitmums helped me train and got me through it on the day. It was the best feeling in the world crossing the finish line after 13.1 miles, better than the feeling of Hull City scoring at Wimberley. I also found that my running had inspired others. I'd got fit and lost a total of 5 ½ stone. My brother gave up smoking and started running, (first time id ever had something in common with my brother!) My cousins soon followed and before long races became a family affair.
More 10ks and Half Marathons followed. But my biggest achievement came in July 2014. My Run Leaders course. What an honour. To be able to give to others what was so generously given to me. Even if I could set 1 person on the road I was on it would be worth it. And it has been. Being back with those one milers, the scared look on their faces as they walk into the club at 7pm only to see them leave at 7:30 with a grin of achievement on their faces. Priceless.
So what next for me? How about a full marathon in April 2015! 26.2 miles that I couldn't have even dreamed of doing 14 months ago. I'm running with the 2 ladies that I started with that I now consider to be 2 of my closest friends. I'm the slowest but on every run they stay with me in true Fitmums style. Training is going well and we know we have the support of Fitmums when we need it.
I'm not sure what else I can say really. Fitmums changed my life as it has for so many others. I'm fit, I'm slimmer and I'm more confident. I have the belief now that anything is achievable with a little help and support.
So THANK YOU Fitmums.
Lynne - Runner & Run Leader [East Hull Fitmums & Friends]