Running into Friendship

11 Jul

I met Jo and Alison at an event hosted by ‘Boutique Sport’ earlier this year, an unlikely duo whose friendship developed through running.  This is their story:

Jo’s says:

“I am a big fan of Ruth’s no nonsense approach to running so I wanted to share on her blog some amazing hidden benefits of strapping on those trainers. For me and my friend Alison, it literally changed our lives.

I first met Alison at bootcamp. I was immediately drawn to her warm, friendly nature. She told me she had recently got into fitness after many years of debauchery and she was loving how good it made her feel.

Alison told me she’d always wanted to learn to run, but she just running to catch a bus left her struggling to catch her breath.

I was keen to get back into running after being plagued by injury (shin splints) since completing my first half marathon, so I asked her to join me in a couch to 5k plan.

She was skeptical at first. ‘I’ll never be able to run for 30 minutes straight,’ she said. But I told her to give it a try as she’d be amazed how quickly she progressed.

Within two months, Alison had achieved her dream and completed her first 5k race. It was amazing to see the changes in her. From a tentative start, she grew in confidence and all of a sudden she was saying: ‘What can I do next? Maybe I’ll try a triathlon or a marathon!’

It made me realise how much I love sharing my passion for fitness with others to help them improve their quality of life. So I left my job in journalism and retrained as a personal trainer.

Now I make a living doing the thing I love the most – helping people get fitter and feel better.”

Jo offers free health and fitness tips at

Alison’s says:

“This time last year I was going nowhere. (I can’t use the word ‘fast’ as I was a total couch potato!). I had gone from being an unfit child to an unfit adult. This wasn’t helped by my smoking habit –  around 30 a day. I was also an overweight and depressed fortysomething single mum. I knew something had to give, for me and my son. I quit smoking and a few months later started a local bootcamp.

For at least 18 years I had had a yearning to run, but had told no-one.  My inner voice would snigger and tell me to get real. But as my fitness improved, so did my confidence. This led to me agreeing to start running with Jo. The minute the words had left my lips, I panicked. The thought of actually running genuinely scared me.

Jo gently built up my confidence over the weeks. I loved the fact that I was being challenged and started to recognise the benefits of working hard physically and how good it makes you feel (endorphins I think they’re called!).

My confidence expanded into other areas of my life. I had wanted to run and was doing that, so why not take up singing too? Before I knew it, I was using my new expanded lungs, increased breathing capacity and honed abdominals to belt out tunes with the best of them. The sky was the limit, now!

Jo encouraged me to enter a 5km run with her. When I ran for 30 minutes I actually cried with happiness and with gratitude to Jo. I never could have done this without her.

And now? Well, we are in training for a 10km race. I am still genuinely thrilled each time I lace up my running shoes to go out to meet Jo. I have gained a really close friend. I am more active with my son (and I like to think more fun to be around for him!) I am more confident, happier and game for any new challenge.”

The Grit Doctor says:

Thank you Jo and Alison for sharing your running tale

I ran the British 10k on Sunday with my wonderful editor, Hannah Boursnell of Little, Brown.  This is a woman who told me that she took on Run Fat Bitch Run because she had always been completely running/exercise averse, had hated participating in all things sporty since school yet whilst reading the RFBR manuscript from the arse dent in her sofa one weekend found herself – as if by magic – inspired to remove herself from it and run. She thought that if a book could make her feel so differently about something, it was worth championing.  And so here we were a year on, now firm friends, as well as fiendishly hard working colleagues, meeting in the pissing rain at 8am on a Sunday morning to run in a 10k race together.

We were both nervous, not just because of the horrible conditions, but because of the size of the event, and all the hazards along the route: half full water bottles littering the streets, people weaving in and out, others stopping without warning, slippery concrete.  It felt like a huge challenge for us both, and yet we sailed through it.  Committing to something like that with a friend and seeing it through to the end is very bonding – it makes you feel vulnerable and strong at the same time.  Powerful stuff.

The Grit Doctor says:

I LOVE YOU HANNAH (said like Rocky in Rocky 1 re: Adrian)


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