My Running Truth: Part 1. Let’s talk about Race

We are constantly inspired by all the women that make up this beautifully strong women’s running community. It’s the common goals and challenges that all women runners face that brings connection and understanding. We have found inspiration comes from many different facets in this sport. We are equally inspired by the woman who is doing her first 5k, as to the woman who won the race, as to the woman who is using running as a way to discover who she is, as to the young girl who’s reminded how strong she feels in her body when she runs and how THAT is beautiful, as the gnarly grandma who is doing her first marathon. We are also inspired by the women who believe change needs to happen in the sport and who are paving the way to educate and bring awareness to race and stigmas. While we are all learning more about each other every day, we ask you to bring love and support and drop judgment as our next blog series features 3 women who share their running truth. 

Meet Coral, she doesn’t just move us with the incredible amount of stamps she must have on her passport, or that she’s rekindling her relationship with running, but we applaud her for sharing her thoughts on race in this sport.

I’m a Canadian, married to a Brit and we have a three year old son named Otis. Currently we are trying to settle in London, UK. I love to travel and my profession as primary school teacher has allowed me work in Oman, Dubai, South Korea, Turkey, Thailand and soon to be UK. Besides travel, two of my favorite interests are running and writing. It’s been really difficult to do both of these things throughout my life because of struggles I have with perfectionism and my self-confidence. Starting running again and writing about it is my attempt to work through both of these issues so I can live the best life I can, be a strong role model for my son and hopefully inspire others to stop waiting for the right moment to make a positive change in their lives.

When did you first start running and what inspired you to start?

I first started running as a kid. I was a short distance runner (100m and 110m hurdles). Since success came easy to me, I never really had to work at it until I got older. When I realised I had to work at it to get better, I decided that I wasn’t good enough to run anymore so I quit (perfectionism at work here!). It wasn’t until I met a woman when I was in my early 30s that ran because she enjoyed it, regardless of her size or how fast or slow she went that convinced me to try running again. She encouraged me to run for fun and to compete against myself rather than what I thought runners needed to be or look like. I started running longer distances with her and completed my first half marathon. A year and a half later I finished the Krakow Marathon, my first and only marathon – so far. After I had Otis, I fell into what felt like a depression. I couldn’t handle all the changes that came with motherhood and I felt like I couldn’t take care of myself and my son at the same time. To deal with it all I threw myself into being a good mum, neglecting my own needs most of the time. My husband kept suggesting over and over to start running again and take time out for myself, but I felt I couldn’t anymore. That part of my life was over. When we came back from Thailand and started to get settled in London, I finally realised that if I didn’t do anything to help myself, I wouldn’t be truly happy. It started to click that I needed to be happy with myself in order to be the best person I could be for the people around me and I knew that nothing made me feel as good as running did. So I went back to running with the desperate aim to start feeling better about myself again.

Your Instagram name is @RunLessOrdinary can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind this?

@runlessordinary is to encourage myself and anyone who reads my blog (www.runlessordinary.com) to call ourselves runners, regardless of what we look like or how we perform, and not be afraid to make big goals for our running. To run less ordinary is to push ourselves a little more, dream bigger and believe that we can achieve the running life we want for ourselves – now! Any goal we set for ourselves is worth going for, any achievement is worth celebrating. We are runners and our running journeys are all extraordinary.

What are your personal running goals? Are you training for something specific or training to maintain a healthy life?

My personal running goal is to transition to trail running and complete a trail half marathon at the end of July. It’s taken me a while to accept this as a goal for myself because I thought it was too big of a goal and something I wasn’t fit enough to do (read: I didn’t look the part and wasn’t strong enough), but after accepting this is something that I truly wanted and deciding to go for it, I’ve really felt my running change. I push myself so much more and I enjoy running again like I used to before having my son.

You recently moved to London! Has your change of environment effected your running?

I love running in London! Running in Bangkok was really challenging for me because of the heat and too dirty for me on the streets (think tons of rats, yucky smells, loads of rubbish). But running in London convinced me to make it a regular part of my life again. First off, there is a park in every direction from my flat and I also love @parkrunuk where they have free 5km park runs all over UK every Saturday morning. There are so many runners here of various ability, so people just leave you alone and let you just get on with it, unlike the harassment I got in Turkey.  Also being able to join a running group, allows me to run in the evenings and meet other runners like me. Running in London has definitely made me feel more confident and safer to get out and run more often.

Finish the statements below…

I run because …. it makes me a happier person (just ask my husband!).

The perfect run would end with seeing my husband and son cheering me on at the finish line.

Running gives me... time to think and reflect and has given me a part of myself back.

When I am feeling unmotivated to run I give myself permission to just run for 15 minutes and then quit (I rarely stop after 15 min!), is how I get the job done!

In America we are currently faced with a lot of division when it comes to race and gender in both running and life. We want to talk about race, gender, and running. We want to talk about it all because we think it’s important. What are your thoughts on how your race and gender are represented in today’s running culture (in the media, running magazines, running races, etc)?

I’m pretty new to the scene again and I may not have my pulse on it as well as some other runners but what I’ve noticed is that you don’t see a lot of mention of blacks in running unless they are defying odds, winning over and over again, and they are from western countries. They can’t be ignored then. We’ve always heard a lot about Paula Radcliffe, from UK and her world record marathon and not much has been said about Mary Keitany, from Kenya in the media since she smashed the women’s only marathon record a few weeks ago in London. There is definitely a difference between the portrayal of women and men runners in the media too. You hear more about men in my opinion. When it comes to every day runners I have found it really difficult to find other black women and men to follow on Instagram and Twitter. I rarely see pictures of black runners on popular running sites and magazines either. Even though there are Instagram movements doing amazing things to bring light on the fact that we are all runners regardless of size, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen a black body come across my feed. Are runner’s bodies only white?? I follow every black person that I find in running on Instagram and Twitter, most of them automatically follow me too. I don’t think there are many of us and it’s a way to support each other. It’s the same in races too. When you see another black person, you automatically give the look because there are usually not many of us racing either. I’m not sure if more blacks are taking up running or not, we don’t hear about it or see it in the media. Maybe if more black runners were depicted in the media, it could inspire more of us to start running or getting more active though.

Do you have any specific women of color runners that inspire you?

Mary Keitany is definitely one runner that inspires me. I can’t believe what she did in London and at 35 years old! She also holds world records for 10 miles, 20 km and 25 km. She had the world record for the half marathon at one point in her career too. That’s amazing! The sad thing though is that if I hadn’t been watching the London Marathon I may not have even heard of her!

As people look to your for inspiration, what do you want to demonstrate by sharing your story?

I started @runlessordinary because I wanted people to see that they have it in them to defy what the media pushes us to believe a runner is like or looks like. We can all run and we shouldn’t be intimidated to get out there and build the running life we want for ourselves. I share my story because I want beginner runners to know that they can do it too. I also think more experienced runners can be inspired to step outside their comfort zone and do something they’ve always wanted to do but have been afraid to try. My story isn’t perfect, my body isn’t perfect either, but I keep going, through all the ups and downs. I hope that inspires people to do the same.

 

Thank you Coral, for sharing your story. Follow her journey on Instagram @runlessordinary

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