Nothing A Good Run Can’t Fix!

Eleanor Colman

I started running about 9 years ago in an attempt to lose weight. I began running on my own and couldn’t even run for a minute when I started. I had a fairly poor relationship with food and for as long as I could remember had struggled with feeling ‘fat’ even though I really wasn’t. I had hated P.E. at school and always felt I wasn’t any good at anything active. It took me a long time to build up to running distances of 6 miles 2-3 times a week. I was still plagued by thoughts of self-doubt and that I wasn’t really a ‘runner’.


I used to run with friends, but was always the slow one, which made me feel I wasn’t achieving what I should be. When people would say: “you run don’t you?” I’d say: “not really” or “I’m very slow”. Despite this I still kept going because the feelings I got after running were so positive and I was quickly finding I needed to run more and more.


I moved to Leeds from Southampton after studying for my Masters and found myself having to start all over again. I was a long way from my family and friends so often felt isolated. It took me ages to find a gym that was right for me. After a lot of research into local gyms I began attending Chapeltown Exercise Studio. I loved the classes and wanted to join the running group – The Mandela Runners – but was so scared to go to a ‘running club’. Again I thought I wasn’t really a runner and wouldn’t be good enough. I finally pushed myself into going and loved every minute from the start. Running in a group gave me so much more motivation and pushed me further than I could push myself on my own.


A few months in it was suggested I become a run leader. This seemed like a crazy idea to me…me telling other people how to run? I wanted to do it for myself as I knew it would be a big challenge that would see my confidence grow. I attended the training and felt like I was a non-runner again. Everyone seemed to be marathon runners and I felt out of my depth! I had to tell myself I was a runner and I could help other people to be runners too.


A few months into my run leader duties and my life as I knew it fell apart. Everything I had planned was gone and I found myself with very little time to find myself somewhere to live. I considered moving home to Southampton as I didn’t really feel I had enough to keep me in Leeds, but one of the things on my list of positives was the Mandela Runners and being a run leader for them.


People who I thought were just ‘running friends’ were there for me when I was at my worst. I was inundated with offers of help and running partners. As I was a run leader I really felt I couldn’t not go which really helped in the times I wanted to curl up in a ball in a dark corner! I had to get out and plan routes. This gave me such a positive focus and time to clear my head. 


I’ve signed up to two running events already to push myself and plan to complete a half marathon this year. Previously I just kept saying I really ought too, but just never quite got around to it as there was always a reason not to.


Running really gives you the time to focus on yourself which is sometimes just what you need to do. 


I also decided I would help out at the Leeds Girls Can Kirkstall Couch to 5k group when they asked for Run Leaders as I wanted to keep my evenings busy. This group has been really inspiring with upwards of 80 ladies attending and showing great determination to reach the end goal. I’ve loved being able to play a small part in their journey and help in that beginning love/hate relationship with running that I remember so well! 


To anyone out there wanting to start running, but feeling like you won’t be good enough I urge you to give it a go.


There are so many supportive running groups and clubs out there who can help you achieve your goals. For me it’s given me so much confidence in myself, helped me develop a much better relationship with food and exercise, and opened up so many social opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. Don’t let your head tell you what you can do! 


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