Running Saved My Life - By Michelle
For this I’ll have to start at the beginning, which for (like so many others) was lockdown March 2020. At that time, I was more than a bit overweight, unhappy with how I looked, unfit and totally unprepared for being stuck at home. Just before lockdown I had joined a local slimming class but fell off that path with lockdown and being sedentary and consuming way more rubbish than I should have, I started gaining even more weight. An out of the blue text from my slimming class consultant prompted me to join the newly formed virtual version of the class.
It was a small group of women but each week we got to know each other in a way we never would have in group – it was an amazing supportive lifeline for me. One of the women (that I’m now lucky enough to call my friend – and incidentally one I’ve since recommended Badass too!) was running on her treadmill at home. I’d not run for years (and even then, it was something I struggled with) and I thought why not? I had a treadmill gathering dust and covered in boxes in my garage – with being stuck at home it was ideal. So, I started running again with an old fitness watch to track my runs.
I got competitive with it – as did my friend – and we’d try and do each other each day! I started running more often in the week and pushing myself further and further. Eventually getting into a habit of running 6 days a week – mostly early mornings before starting work. For my birthday I was treated to a Garmin Vivoactive 4S, and I loved it! I also discovered the amazing Badass group and found it very supportive – such a wonderful group of women.
As my slimming class went from virtual back to group I stuck with it – weighing in shoes for a while was not fun! We all laughed as we admitted weighing all our shoes at home to find the ‘lightest’ ones to weigh in… Still, I love over 4 stone and with running I was toned, slimmer, leaner and the most fit and healthy I had been in many years.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I prefer treadmill running to running outdoors – it fits better with my home and work life (especially when I’m on call). I love to binge watch shows on TV via my iPad – shows that I told myself I’m only allowed to watch when I’m running – which is a great motivator when it’s a cliff hanger and I have to wait until the follow day to watch it.
I post my runs everyday to Facebook and Instagram (and I don’t care who finds that annoying!) – Facebook memories feature means I get to see last years run and see how far I’ve come since then, or to motivate me to run faster on days I don’t even feel like running.
Running became essential for my mental health – since the start of March 2020 I have worked entirely at home and that’s not likely to end any time soon. It’s a habit and part of my daily routine – my kit (Badass kit what else?!) is always laid out the night before and my alarm goes off at 6am each day so I can get up, have my coffee and banana, and then pound the treadmill.
Then came the day I realised there was a problem. My resting heart rate had always been low (as had my blood pressure) but it started dropping lower and averaging at 32 bpm instead of 42 (which was my average for a few years). It was my watch that kept alerting me – and I only got the watch because of running. I started getting dizzy and feeling tired, but I ran anyway and felt better for it. However, I got nagged persistently by my mother to go see the doctor (yes even at 45 I still listen to my mum – don’t tell her I said it but she’s always right…).
The doctor scheduled me an ECG after an initial consultation and realising heart problems ran in my family. Based on the results – the doctor informed me that as well as a low heart rate the electric impulses in my heart were too far apart – and referred me to cardiology at the hospital. Downside I had to immediately cease running until I was fully checked out.
After the initial frustration, devastation (at not being allowed to run – I know priorities, right?! ha) and sadness – because I was waiting to hear if I had a place in the London Marathon 2022 and due to climb Ben Nevis this summer for charity (and seeing my annual mileage goal slip away from me (was set at 1600 miles for 2022) – I started power walking on my treadmill instead. Nope it’s not the same but it’s better than nothing. I still lay out my kit every night and set my alarm for 6am – a routine is a routine after all – and I get up and power walk 4 miles in 60 mins.
So that’s how running may have saved my life – without running and wearing my watch I likely would never have realised I had a problem in the first place. That and it helped my lose the weight and get fitter; I no longer get out of breath walking up the stairs and be that annoying person who posts every run on social media…..
I’m Michelle, I’m 45 and a mother of two. I live in Wiltshire and work full time as a head of product and compliance, as well as being a Governor for two schools. A former military brat and married into the Army after meeting my husband when I was 11 (note that we didn’t get together until I was 24 though!).
You can follow Michelle's running journey on Instagram here