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Sandy and Julia: These Girls Can Run

Posted: Wed, 24 Oct 2018 09:08

Sandy and Julia: These Girls Can Run

Two women from Suffolk have made huge changes to their life after taking part in the This Girl Can Run programme, a small project designed to inspire more women to take up running in Suffolk.

The programme, led by This Girl Can in Suffolk, featured three separate race events; the Ipswich Twilight 5K, the Ipswich Twilight 10K and the Great East Run (13.1 miles) and was designed to show women that running is an exercise that is accessible to everyone.

Sandy Ruddock and Julia Bilotta, who were both very new to running at the beginning of the project, decided to take part for different yet equally inspiring reasons; Sandy wanted to get fit ahead of a charity bike ride in memory of her late husband and Julia had had a difficult year health wise and thought running could be the boost that she needed to get her life back on track. A third participant, Samantha Witham, also took part in the project but unfortunately had to drop out due to injury and was unable to complete the races.

Prior to the race events, Sandy and Julia engaged in their own structured training programmes and were also given the opportunity to meet with Lisa Dalton from Access Fitness, a self-employed fitness and running coach who works with all levels of experience. Julia met with Lisa, who was able to provide her with knowledge and support around how best to train and prepare for the runs, as well as general confidence-building advice.

Both ladies created a blog to document their experience leading up to and during the events, to share the ways in which the programme made a difference to their lives. Their blog posts are as interesting as they are inspiring; they both discuss their separate individual challenges, how they overcame these and how other women can take up running and do the same.

Speaking of her involvement in the This Girl Can Run programme, Julia said:

"I started the This Girl Can Suffolk Running Project back in April this year. I had had a difficult year health wise, I had just been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was about to commence a course of pretty harsh medication. I was feeling a bit low and this was just the challenge I needed to lift my spirits. I was enrolled in three races - The Ipswich Twilight 5K in May, the Twilight 10K in August and the Great East Half Marathon in September. Training went well (despite it being the hottest summer for years) and the 5K and 10K were great. Disaster struck just four weeks away from the GER when I injured my ankle and ended up with tendinitis. Lots of rest and physio helped but sadly I was unable to run on the day - I shed a few tears but seeing so many of my running buddies cross the line made me realise 'there's always another day'. In retrospect, the timescale was perhaps a bit too short for me at 62 but the whole experience has been amazing. Just want to say anything is possible even if timescales have to be amended on the way - Great East Run 2019, bring it on!"

Sandy also commented:

"Having never run before (except for a bus!), I approached the prospect of running a 5K and 10K circuit with some trepidation. I am not unfit – I walk miles with my dogs and cycle 40-50 miles nearly every weekend, but I am not really 'cardio fit' and at 51, my joints are getting creaky. I decided to take it nice and easy and I downloaded a 5K running app for beginners. This was probably the best thing I did as it really worked; I started off slowly and built up my distance over a period of weeks. I had a number of niggles with sore calf muscles and feet in the middle three weeks so I visited Coes in Ipswich for a proper shoe fitting which I should have done right at the start - they made an enormous difference! I actually found running the 5K quite straightforward; I got a lot of pleasure and a real sense of achievement from it too.

Unfortunately with the 10K, I didn't have enough time to build up to the race slowly as I had done before, so I found the training (and motivating myself) harder. I am very busy at work running my own business so logistically it was difficult trying to plan runs with other people which meant I trained completely on my own. I found the 10K much harder than the 5K but I still completed the race and ran the whole way apart from a little bout of walking two thirds of the way through. Next time, I will give myself more time to train and then I think I will be able to run the full distance!"

Lea Denley from Suffolk Sport, who leads on This Girl Can in Suffolk, was also able to comment on the success of project and the dedication shown by the women involved:

"This was a very challenging opportunity for both Sandy and Julia, who were both relatively new to running. The thought of starting something new or picking up an old activity can be overwhelming for many women and these two ladies are no different. Sandy and Julia have managed to overcome those barriers that we all face to achieve massive success on their running journeys. They should both be very proud of their achievements in such a small timescale and I hope they both continue to keep up the running. Unfortunately, they both had injuries so did not take part in the Great East Run, but I hope they will consider entering next year after a more realistic period of training. For those looking to start running, success doesn't have to be in the form of taking part in an organised run, but having a goal can help keep you motivated. Success is about getting up and moving a little bit more than you used to. If you are looking to start running but feeling nervous and overwhelmed about starting, there are a variety of friendly running groups that would welcome you to come along, such as I Can Run Club, Ipswich Jaffa's and Sudbury Joggers".

The This Girl Can Run programme doesn't stop there – as part of the project, participants were given the opportunity to do a LIRF (Leadership In Running Fitness) course funded by Most Active County. Julia is taking part on the course, which will provide attendees with the knowledge to help and inspire other like-minded ladies to get involved with running and support them through the process.

For more information on how to become involved in running through the This Girl Can website, click here: http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/activities/running/

To read Julie and Sandy's blogs, click here:

Julia's blog: https://thisgirlcanat62.wordpress.com/

Sandy's blog: https://missscarlettrunning.wordpress.com/

Tags: Great East Run, Running, This Girl Can

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