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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!


Megan - Health Promotion Specialist

August 6, 2017

Taking up running can be daunting... We know, we’ve been there! In this week’s blog we chat to three of our very own Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland staff who went from being unfit, overweight and feeling flat, to fit, healthy and feeling fab! 

Tell us a bit about yourself –

Meet Laura – Mum of two, Laura is in her late-40’s and started running in March. After losing 4 stone, Laura needed an extra “oomph” to shift the last of the weight. In her own words she “hated” her first run and vowed to never run again but was determined to finish the Couch to 5K challenge that she’d set herself.   

Laura's incredible transformation through healthy diet and exercise

Meet Ang – Also a mum of two, Ang is in her mid-40’s. After a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes two years ago, Ang lost 3 ½ stone by revamping her diet. Feeling “a bit flabby” and wanting to tone up, Ang was encouraged by colleagues, Laura and Fiona, whom she’d seen out running and they assured Ang that she too could run!

“I was scared to run, I have asthma and I hadn’t run since school” – Ang recalls before her first run.

Meet Fiona – Fiona has been a keen runner since high school when she joined a running club (and met her husband there!). Fiona has been running for over 40 years and enjoys combining two of her favourite hobbies – running and travelling – she’s run half-marathons in Toronto, Vancouver and all around Scotland and is planning her next running trip to Prague!

How did you feel when you first started running?

Laura – “I felt old, fat and unfit. I hated my first run but it got easier with time. Now I have much more energy, I sleep better, I’m more confident in my appearance and my previously aching joints no longer hurt. Now I want to run all the time.”

Ang – “I was really scared because of how unfit I was. After the first time I loved it, but it was harder than I thought. Laura recommended the Couch to 5K and I’m two weeks away from finishing! I haven’t loved every run, but I love the feeling I get at the end. I’ve lost some more weight and I notice a difference walking up stairs now.”

Fiona – “I’ve always run so its second nature to me; I got back into running after both of my pregnancies to help lose the baby weight and feel calmer. Running is great for getting rid of stress.”

 “When I started running I was as slow as a geriatric tortoise!”

What motivates you to keep going?

Laura – “Seeing the result on the scales and being a healthy weight! I've also signed up to a race every month. Receiving my first medal was proof that I could really do this … and to my surprise, I am actually looking forward to my first half-marathon next Spring – nothing I ever dreamt of doing!”

Ang is only two weeks away from finishing her Couch to 5K challenge!

Ang – “My health keeps me going as I need to look after my diabetes for the rest of my life. My running buddy, Fiona, also keeps me accountable! We run at lunchtime three times a week – I love it as it gets me away from my desk and it means I have time for my kids in the evenings.”

“At my age you can lose yourself with family and work. Running is something for me; I deserve that time - 30 minutes, 3 times a week.”

Fiona – “I just love running – so many people say ‘I can’t run’, but everyone can run – most people just start out too fast and get out of breath. I still find it hard getting out the door sometimes - training with Ang helps me as I know I can’t let her down!"

Tips for new runners:

Laura –

  • “Find what works for you. I love running in beautiful places – just the other day I was running in the woods and two deer ran across my path, it was incredible! Some people like to run fast over short distances, but I prefer to go at a comfortable pace for a longer distance.
  • Don't run two days in a row! As tempting as it is, you need to allow rest days. And safety is really important to me – I carry a personal alarm and spray."

 Ang –

  • “Find a running buddy and remember it will get easier! Fiona is more experienced and reminds me that everything I'm feeling is normal. Also speak to your GP, I was given an inhaler to help my asthma and in winter I’ll run inside.
  • I’ve been looking to join Park Run too - a community of runners that meet on a Saturday morning – there’s people of all ages, sizes and fitness levels."

Fiona completing the Toronto half marathon – check out that grin!

Fiona –

  • “Aim low (set realistic goals) and go slow – if you need to walk, then walk. When I’m not in the mood for running, I just tell myself to go for 10 minutes (and it often turns into more).
  • To help prevent injury, ensure you have a good pair of shoes (and socks) and warm-up by walking or jogging slowly for 5 minutes.
  • And my biggest tip… be careful where you dry your running clothes - mine flew out the window at work!” 😉

 “Good luck, if we can do it, so can you.”

Ready to get going? Pick your event!

We have charity runs of varied distances and locations around Scotland – from 5K to full marathons, there’s something for everyone. Find out more here. If signing up is too daunting right now, consider training for one of our runs next year, or build up your strength with one of our walkathons!

 Always consult your GP before starting a new exercise regime.

***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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