It’s that time of year again, when we watch thousands of runners – young and old – complete the 26 mile London Marathon. It’s a notoriously gruelling race, yet one that many people up and down the country would love to do. But how do busy women like us, many with no running experience to speak of, become runners? The thought of running long distances like a 5k, half marathon or full marathons can seem seriously daunting.
Susie Clements is truly inspiring. The 48-year-old mother of two from London was a running beginner and slowly built up her fitness through the popular Couch -2.5k programme. Since starting her training, she’s run the London Half Marathon, lost an impressive three stone in weight and inspired friends to sign up to the running app too.
Susie told Lumity: “I saw a really good mum friend of mine in the playground and noticed she was losing weight. I asked her what she was doing and she showed me the Couch-2.5K app. She said: ‘If I can do it anyone can’, so I did.” Susie was a complete novice and reveals she’d never run a day in her life, other than at school. “I couldn’t run for a bus!” she jokes. “My sons (now aged 11 and 13) had bought me a Fitbit which I returned twice to John Lewis as I was doing 20,000 steps in my normal day – I just wasn’t running!”
Susie admits that getting going with the programme was tough. “I downloaded the app and started on my own,” she says. “The first day I dragged my two sons along who were 10 and 12 at time and we ran around the woodland near our home in Rotherhithe. I literally couldn’t even do the 10 seconds of running at first, it was so hard.”
Her goal was to complete the course and run 5k, which she remembers ‘seemed unimaginable’ at times. Just getting to the end of the first few days was hard on Susie’s body as she was three stone heavier than she is now. But it was all worth it, and the businesswoman – who runs a printing app for students called Printtapp – soon felt the benefits.
“I sleep better than I’ve ever slept,” she tells us. “I run a company and I’m a single mother – my stress was through the roof. Often I run home from the office which is just over 5K to home and I think and fester whilst I run. It’s my time – which I’ve never really had, as I’ve been single since my children were aged two and six months old.”
Susie has found a new passion in running; it gives her that much treasured me time we all crave. She explains: “I think and I listen to nature; I never listen to music. I live by the river so I have beautiful routes to run, plus there’s the sense of achievement.” Susie likes to run after dinner and on Sunday mornings, and says: “The beauty of running is you just pop your trainers on and step outside.”
Now Susie’s boys are older, she has more time to exercise, but it wasn’t so easy when they were small. “This is why the weight crept on,” she explains. “I couldn’t pay a babysitter so I couldn’t go to the gym or a class. I’ve been on my own for 10 years and having my boys with me 24/7, exercise was almost impossible. Although I’m very active, I didn’t exercise.”
So what does her family think of Susie’s newfound love of running? “They were slightly shocked but they saw the transformation,” she reveals. “I ran the London Half Marathon a few weeks ago and my mum and sons were waiting for me at the 10 mile point. My mum came from Spain to witness it.”
To date, Susie’s proudest running achievement is completing the London Half Marathon, which she admits was ‘a miracle’ as she ran the race with little training. “Due to work and children I lost track of my half marathon training so went in quite unprepared,” she explains. “I’d only run 10K when I did it but I ran it in 2 hours 50 mins and didn’t stop other than to kiss my kids.”
Susie really is so inspiring and proof that it’s possible to incorporate running into your daily life. Her advice is simply: “Do it. I have inspired many overweight mums at school and did the Couch-2.5K program with them. Even my sons’ headmaster and teachers. If I can do it, anyone can.”
Along with her running programme and a healthy diet, Susie says she has also stopped drinking alcohol which has helped her slim down. Her goal now is to run faster and maybe do a few 10k races. “I’m not sure about a half marathon again,” she ponders. “It really did push me to every conceivable limit.”
Could she imagine her life without running? “No, I’d miss it,” she says. “I’m fitter, happier, less stressed and a weeny bit hooked! It has made me super-confident and love my body again. I’m also in awe of what my body can achieve. I thought surviving two quite brutal C-sections was impressive, but my mind and body carried me 13 miles a few weeks ago.”
She adds: “From my professional side, I feel really confident because I discovered inner strength and determination. I feel like a winner in and outside of the boardroom. It has shown me anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
“I’m not a runner, never will be and even now the first 1km can feel impossible. But once you get through those thoughts, your body goes into overdrive and the sense of accomplishment feels better than anything.”
Ready for more? New York-based fitness instructor Bethany Meyers tells us her tips for how to love exercise, or check out the A-list workout that you can do without going anywhere near a gym, And here’s why you should consider throwing away your weighing scales and heading to your local park instead.