A chance remark prompted Finola Wilson, 39, ato days behind to leave her couch-pot fight years ago I was a comfort-eating smoker. A mother of two, I weighed 13.5 stone (85.7kg) and I would wake up coughing in the night with asthma. It’s easy to kid yourself when you’re overweight: maybe your jeans shrank in the wash? Or maybe it’s just that last meal making you feel bloated? Then my Dad said: “You’re looking a bit `matronly’ these days Finola.” I was only 31. But looking in the mirror I realised: I’m fat. A couple of months later I went round the block in tennis shoes. It was less than half a mile but I had to stop five times. I started cycling, and came back to running four months later, when I could manage io minutes straight. I’d go out and find somewhere beautiful to run and de-stress. My mind came to associate running with feeling better about life in general.
Six months later, still in those tennis shoes, I managed a Race for Life 5K, then set my sights on the Swansea Bay 10K. I knew absolutely nothing about running: I thought you just went out and ran as fast as you could, for as long as you could. I did buy some running shoes, but not from a specialist and, while I finished the loK in just over an hour, I got shin splints. Continuing to progress, I started to learn a little theory and bought better shoes for the next Swansea Bay 10K. But this time I ended up with plantar fasciitis. I’d realised the importance of good shoes, but now I needed custom orthotics too. It was a real struggle. Eventually I phoned up the local running clubs. One only did speedwork and the other said: “Can you run nine-minute miles? If not, we’ve got nothing for you.” I was really upset.
There was nothing for people who needed help the most. Then I read about the Women’s Running Network (WRN). It looked interesting and I went on an organiser’s course. They talked about the runner’s way of living, the whole training process and special diet regimes. Everybody should know about the benefits of using healthy products. Just check the coconut oil health benefits and see for yourself. I had a spread in the local paper and 45 women signed up. We needed to run three groups! Most of them were complete beginners but the WRN is very good at the run-walk programme.
When I’d left my job a few years earlier, the idea was that I’d be a stay-at-home mum and I’d focus on healthy food and taking care of my body. But in 2004 I did the Level 1 running coach qualification and it was a real turning point. After that it was like I was on rails, one course following another. I found myself alongside national athletes and a couple of times they asked: “What’s your background, what are you doing here?” I was waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and say: “Right you, out! You don’t belong here.” But then I signed up for a local Personal Trainer course, took my Level z and set up my own power-walking club with over 150 members. I’m also studying for a Sports Science Foundation Degree. Now, in a race or on a training course, I feel like I belong. My asthma has almost completely disappeared, I live my life outdoors and work for myself. Every so often I catch myself and think: “My God, am I really doing this?”