Real stories from real women…..

Here’s Sarah-Lou

I starting running by chance. I never considered myself capable of running. I wouldn’t have thought this would be a thing for me, let alone something I would choose to do and love.

I was working full time, bringing up two gorgeous children and running a home. We all have an inbuilt resilience but after years of neglecting my own well being, mine was taking a battering. I needed to do something for myself, for headspace, something just for me.

So one day I took myself off for a run. I must have gone less than a mile, I felt like everyone was watching me, like they knew I hadn’t done this before, I felt self-conscious, like I was breathing loudly and I wasn’t dressed like I should be. It was hard and it made me feel so unfit, but I did it and the fresh air felt great and the music I listened to was good as well.

I found myself going out more and more, trying to push a little harder every time. On one level I wasn’t sure why I was going out running but I really enjoyed the feeling of taking control and doing something just for myself.

What really changed me forever and has made me as a runner was becoming a Foxy Lady. This Club is more than running. These girls have become my second family, they mean so much to me. Being a Foxy has provided me with friendship, emotional support and strength. I have learnt techniques for improving running and have had amazing training that has helped me to achieve things I never thought possible. My confidence has increased massively, my physical and emotional well-being are so much improved and I have gained so much positivity and achievement. This has had a great impact on all areas of my life.

I feel looking after myself sets a positive example for my children. They see that attaining great achievements takes a lot of hard work and it doesn’t come easily. And most importantly they see that becoming part of this wonderful club has allowed me to achieve my goals and that having the right support around you is important with everything you do.

I am so proud to be part of this Club. Julia has helped so many women of all ages and backgrounds change their lives in so many ways and we all now share a common love of running.

We are all helped with everything from running techniques, to diet, shoes, sleep, what to wear, how to deal with things mentally, how to prevent injury, everything! When I was down, I had an amazing network around me to pick me up. Being a Foxy is so much more than being a runner, I have made amazing friends for life whom I love to bits!

I have gone from the girl who ran around the block to training for a marathon. With the right training and support anything is possible.

You are an amazing lady Julia, your kindness, determination, support, success and kind nature shines through you and every Foxy Lady. I will never be able to thank you enough for helping me achieve my running goals and changing my life.

By Sarah-Lou Meeten

Nikki’s story

My running journey began in January 2019, I had moved to Worthing from Hampshire in June the year before so was having to rebuild friendships and social aspects of my life.

Whilst at work in December 2018 a colleague who ran with the Foxy ladies suggested I joined them as I was also looking to improve my non existent fitness. I laughed at her claiming I could not not run and had never been able to do so, she simply replied that is why it’s called learn to run and with that my journey began.

I joined Julia on my first L2R session in January and was so nervous, the last time I had run if that’s what you wanted to call it was at school well over two decades ago and with no other exercise in between I was most definitely unfit.

We were asked to run for 30 secs and it literally felt like a life time I was so unfit and didn’t even manage this short period of time but something sparked inside of me and the determination had kicked in.
During this first meeting of women I had never met I already felt a sense of belonging and the encouragement and caring nature of the foxes was already beginning to shine through.

The next 8 weeks I threw everything I had into our homework and was determined to reach our 5km goal, some weeks I found it tough but crossing that finish line for our graduation was one of the proudest moments I had encountered, every step I ran I had someone supporting me telling me I could do it, I finished to a group of foxes cheering and shouting for me to finish and I saw first hand what amazing, caring and supportive ladies this club had showing their true foxy spirit.

From then on I caught the running bug and began signing up for as many races I could I completed my first 10km in June that year just 4 months after my graduation and have just recently ran my furthest distance of 15km this year in February something I would never have believed possible 12 months before.

I have gained so much from running, my fitness has greatly improved and I’m due to start training for my first half marathon in October this year, I have realised I can run and it has and still does take many mind battles to believe this but if I look where I am now on my journey I have improved so much from my first run.

I have truly found a love for running but I have also gained some true friendships and bonds that comes with being a foxy lady.
Without the foxy leaders I wouldn’t be where I am on this journey now, they are an inspiration and the support, encouragement and time given to us all within our sessions and personally is exceptional.
I am most definitely thankful for that conversation I had at work.

By Nikki Thompson

Sam’s journey

I started my running journey on a cold January morning in 2015.
A friend asked me to join her on a learn to run 10 week course with a small group called the Foxy Ladies run by one of the mums from school Julia. Most of my other friends thought I would last about three weeks me included, but thankfully there has always been a little part of me that rather stubbornly won’t give up, and I have to see it through to the bitter end.

I was rubbish to start with and kept thinking I am never going to get this.I often tell the story when Julia said “today we are going to run 5 minutes nonstop” (this was on about week 4) and I looked at her in horror thinking she’s having a laugh but NO she wasn’t!!
She set us homework every week to repeat our weekly run, walk session and slowly but surely that 5 minute nonstop run turned into 15 minutes then finally into running 5k without stopping.

Fast forward 5 years and in February 2020 I ran 13.1 miles nonstop!!
Can you believe it I actually ran a half marathon.
It’s not all about the running for me as being part of this  group has given me so much more including life long friends and medals…. lots of lovely medals.

I run for me not for anyone else and that’s mostly because I am the worlds slowest runner but I really don’t care. My goal when I run a race is always start the race finish it and run all of it non stop however long it takes!

My coach well what can I say about my Julia, let me see if I were to it sum up in a few words it is because of her that I have achieved all of this, because she made me believe I could do it.
I will be forever grateful that I have her and the Foxy Ladies in my life.

By Sam Merrick

Meet Lou

I joined the Foxy Ladies in a learn to run course September 2018.  I had joined various gyms in my time, many classes but nothing that inspired me to go back. My expectation was that I’d learn to run in 8 weeks and then I’d just jog along the streets as I wished on my own.

I didn’t realise the impact the Foxy ladies would have on me physically and mentally. From my very first session I have felt part of the family, I have been encouraged by my leaders even when I felt I couldn’t do it. Each and every lady who I’ve had the pleasure to run with everyone has their own story and inspired me along the way. The support from these lady’s at races, on a run and personally is exceptional.

Sadly I lost my dad last year just after my learn to run  graduation, at this point it would have been easy to just give up. I didn’t though, running gave me a focus and a space to get away from the chaos and to just put one foot in front of the other.  I honestly don’t really know how I would have coped this past year without running, I can’t advocate enough how important running has been for my mental health and I’m forever grateful to Julia and the Foxy Lady’s for this.

The buzz I get from being able to run a little further than I did the week before, the pride I feel in myself when I cross that finish line or up a hill without stopping is worth ever drop of sweat and every tear previously shed – to sum up I am a runner now that’s what I do and I love it.

By Lou Bolton

Say Hi to Kirsty

Hi, my name is Kirsty, I started my running journey with the Foxy Ladies in September 2018 on a learn to run course. I turned up for my first session not really knowing why I was doing it. I weighed just over 17 stone, someone like me couldn’t run shouldn’t run, I won’t lie to you the first session was not great. I couldn’t breath and couldn’t run, I went home and cried. However, I turned up the next week and every week after that and graduated with all the other girls on my 8th week by running 5k non-stop.

The Foxes that I run with are the most supportive and encouraging ladies you will ever meet, it does not matter if you are at your group session or your out on a midweek run, there is always a foxy to give you support even if it’s with a beep of the horn. Without there support I would never have been able to run my first half marathon this year, one of the hardest things I have ever done but also the best thing I have ever done.

By Kirsty Cook