They don’t call me Sporty Spice.

I have never been what I class a sporty person. As far back as I can remember, I admired those with a lean physique. No ‘bulging hips’ or pot belly, the ability to run and run for ever, to push themselves no matter what. As a kid, I quit ballet at age 5. My reason was that I thought I couldn’t point my toes properly. Everybody else’s feet looked beautifully arched, whilst my flat-footed ‘point’ just didn’t look the same. I never told my Mum why I didn’t want to go anymore – I didn’t want to admit that I was a failure. Later in life, she told me the ballet teacher was sad to see me go, because I had been one of the best in the class. It turns out, like most things in life, being ‘sporty’ is about perception as well as how well you perform.

Since then I’ve been a rower, I’ve attended boxing training, I’ve been a gym member and even took a GCSE in PE. I still never truly felt sporty. Then in 2007, I started running. It was a revelation to start running at my own pace and find that I could run and run for many miles. So long as I kept a reasonable pace and did not compare myself to others, running gave me freedom and a new-found confidence in myself. Later, when I worked in a prison, we would work out and run up to 4 days a week in our lunch hour – perfect! No need to get up super early, nor go to the gym after work. Plus, it was a good break from our desks in the middle of the day. The prisoners were locked up and the Gym instructors were free to show us how to use the different weight machines and teach us the rules to sports like badminton, tennis and volleyball. They had folders and folders of exercises we could do on the gym mats, using weights and the fit ball.  They take us through gruelling circuit training – challenging us to keep up with them. It was fantastic and the only downer for me was I was unable to take the spinning classes, because of my “ingrown hair abscesses”. I kept up the training and running until I was 24 weeks pregnant – not all of it, just the occasional run by the end. Two years on and a stay-at-home-mum, my activity levels have plummeted. I am not free to exercise whenever I want, but if I really wanted to, I mean, if I was really dedicated, I would do something to get started. Anything.

So, I finally went for a run. Today I am feeling good pain. Not the usual soreness of open wounds or swollen skin; not kick-your-butt-back-to-bed pain. No, this is good, healthy, it-hurts-my-hamstrings-to-get-on-and-off-the-toilet kind of pain. My legs ache, as does my torso and I am physically worn out. It feels great!

I ran a fairly short distance – about 4 km/2.6 miles – but it felt good to finally get out there again. My average time was about as quick as it used to be when I was fit – I was pretty shocked. However, it’s not because I am miraculously athletic after such a long time out of the saddle. It is because I am the lightest I have been since I was around, I don’t know, probably 9 years old. Since following the autoimmune protocol diet, I am carrying an average of about 35 pounds/15.8 kgs less than before. I shouldn’t be surprised by this basic science, but I am easily awed by so many things in life.

My HS didn’t flare up, nor did it cause me any pain during the run. The area was a little more swollen in the evening, but no more than when I have been walking a lot.

I may not be Sporty Spice, but I have spent a good part of my life doing sports and enjoying them. I don’t think I’ll ever have a lean physique, or a six-pack, but my body can do sports just as well as the next person. If I don’t run again for a while, or my time drops, I am not a failure. I am somebody who cares enough to take care of their body, when time (and HS) allows. I just need to remember the quote: No matter how slow you run, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.

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