Some running mums can be total angels and other running mums are complete and utter demons … almost to the extent of being … well…. savage-like I guess! Its not until you start talking to other running mums, that you start to understand a little bit more about why they run, what keeps them focused, what drives them to get to the start line and motivates them to the finish line. Its at times like this, following the harrowing moment you witness your running mojo being run over by a 40 tonne HGV (with draw-bar trailer and 5 axles to be precise) never to be seen again, that we need to dig out our dustpan and brushes and start sweeping together that god damn variable running mojo and JFDI (anyone noticed that JFDI seems to be my very own hypocritical motto this year??! hmmm). Anyway! moving on….. Let me introduce you to my first guest blogger of the week. The very beautiful, very talented, very compassionate and very inspirational Karen Place. When I grow up, I want to be just like her! Take a look at what drives this lady on to being, not only my idol, but a real live supermum too.
Autism Mums Rock
Someone once told me the greatest piece of advice and it was ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, for me being a Mum to a child with special needs this saying rings so very true.
I have never been one to go to the gym or keep fit and never realised the incredible health benefits of running, not only for my wobbly bits but also for my wobbly mind. I’m stressed beyond any way that most people could imagine, unless you are living it and know what a constant uphill struggle this is with immense challenges. Walk just a few days in my shoes and you will realise why I’m always turning up at events crying, hiding under my hood or just avoiding people so I don’t have to talk. I wanted to tell my story so people understand why I struggle so much and help others to open up about their issues and it’s OK to be open and talk about your problems.
I have a 15 year old son and although I knew from a very young age that he was different, it took me until he reached the age of 12 to get an official diagnosis after failing at secondary school. The system is so complex, long winded, hard work and you honestly have to fight for everything that is right for your child just to get the support you need. As my life is an exhausting blur of tears, sleepless nights and meltdowns my mental health has really suffered over the last 10 years. It’s the constant fighting for what is right, the correct school place, support from a social worker, education health care plan and endless meetings and phone calls with DWP, GP’s, school and health care professions that make it a 24/7 job without much respite. It’s not just about being a Mum, which I agree is already one of the hardest jobs in the world, but also being a nurse, an advocate, therapist, researcher, counsellor, paediatrician, mind reader, administrator, teacher and many more roles. You have to find the help and support yourself as nobody gives this information willingly and fight to the death for every bit of it. It’s truly exhausting both mentally and physically. Never underestimate that just because you can’t see the disability it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I have lost count of the amount of times someone has said ‘he doesn’t look autistic’……..what does that even mean? because I certainly can’t describe what a person on the spectrum looks like?
I took up running 4 years ago as a friend of mine had recommended the 10 week beginners course with the Redway Runners. I never thought that I would be able to do it. I couldn’t even run to the end of my drive and back. I had planned to just prove to myself that I could finish the course and be able to run a 5k but I met the most amazing people and carried on. Even now I am still in touch with a few people from the course and we have recently got together as one lady has just completed her 100th parkrun, I hope that one day I can hit that target but I’m aiming to get to 50 parkruns in 2018. Little did I know just how beneficial this course would be.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running due to stress and not knowing how my day is going to go as each day is totally different so you just can’t plan anything. Some days you are just broken and can’t push yourself out of the door through exhaustion and the fear: fear of failure, fear of crying, fear of talking to people, fear of people not liking you, fear of not knowing what to say in conversation (the list of demons is endless). Over the past 18 months due to severe stress and anxiety I have started really throwing myself back into running and here we are back at the start of my story ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. Most autism Mum’s are running on empty so self-care is so important because if you don’t take care of yourself then you will burn yourself out. My self-care is running, being ‘me’ for just an hour and trying to switch off and forget about my troubles. Being out in the fresh air and exercising I have found running great for my figure (as I love cake), my confidence and exercise is great for my mental health. I have met some awesome friends, pushed myself out of my comfort zone and met the most incredible run leads who inspire me to get stronger and better.
I have been really loving my running recently and even pushed myself to do my first half. Never ever would I have imagined I could complete 5k let alone a 10k or even a half but I have a lot of determination and leading the life I lead makes you one of the strongest people. I don’t always feel strong and when people tell you that you are doing so well, you smile politely but rarely believe them. I have signed up to do my second half (I was only ever going to do one so I’m not sure how that happened) and this time it’s for charity so I have managed to raise over £700 for Victa a local charity in Milton Keynes which helps and supports families of blind and visually impaired children. This was another challenge in itself to approach people and ask for money as I really lack in confidence and I’m so proud to have smashed the target I set, now just to run a small 13.1 miles eeeek!
For the future I plan to be more open & honest with people about how I’m feeling and what I’m struggling with but also want people to get to know the real ‘me’, the one who likes adventure sports, the one who once abseiled 300 feet down the Spinnaker Tower (yes I really did), the one who likes musicals, the one who just wants to be accepted, loved, fit in and make friends. I get knocked down a lot in life but with my running it encourages me to get back up again, I will always be a Mum and constantly have struggles but if I push myself with my exercise and keep entering races and setting myself goals then I have something that is ‘mine’. I do love the green army that is Redway Runners and proud to be a part of it.
Good luck Karen! You’ve so got this, we’re behind you all the way.
Until next time