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Alison's story

"As a mother of four working full time, I’ve found it difficult to fit activity into my day."

As a mother of four working full time, I’ve found it difficult to fit activity into my day.

Taking on a Sunday role as a contact worker for children left me with little time to focus on me and my health. Doing so would mean that dinner is cooked later than normal, as other priorities simply needed to come first.   

Mental challenges have also held me back, believing that I was too fat, too slow and that I was going to fail.

Anxiety has been a big challenge for me and stopped me over the years getting involved in things I wanted to.  

Taking on a Sunday role as a contact worker for children left me with little time to focus on me and my health.

I was an active child and teenager. I always run with my dad and joined an athletics club as a family. He became a coach and we went every week with him.

I competed and became an under 11 champion for the club.

Once into my teens I kept on running with my dad, but only usually cross-country from our house and that helped us to bond.  

In my later teens I started to have pains in my tummy and had to have them explored. It was extremely painful and put me off sport due to the pain it caused.

I didn’t do anything from then until I went to Uni and started rowing. I loved it and competed as a novice travelling around, which was great fun.  

My university days were fragmented with anxiety and, although undiagnosed, I look back and see how I struggled and avoided situations.

I stopped rowing and fell pregnant at 20 with my first child. We bought a house and I had three children under five by the time I was 26.

My relationship was very troubled and I was very young. I picked up running again after I separated from my husband 10 years ago. It was an escape and something I could do for free and with very little time or money.

Alison running outside with her friend.

I found that I no longer had the pains I had when I was a child and actually enjoyed running again. I pushed through my anxiety as I felt empowered for having left a marriage I was unhappy in.  

Since then my running has stopped and started, plus I had my fourth and last child, who is now six. I have ran the Great South Run and various other little events, always with my new partner.  

I joined a group called HER SPIRIT at the start of lockdown as I wanted to get active and had put on some weight I was desperate to shift. I was the heaviest I had ever been and a friend recommended giving it a go.  

I had a look and started joining some of the virtual classes. I’ve now done open water swimming and Go Tri as well

The group has opened up a safe and supportive environment for like-minded women to support each other.

Alison smiling in her wesuit and swimming hat, wearing a medal in-front of a banner.

In the winter I make sure I to cook for my youngest early and then go for a run and we will all eat later. When I went open-water swimming this summer my girls came with me to watch and even joined in.  

I think it’s good for children to see an active lifestyle in adults. They join us at events we attend and watch the hard work we put into achieve our goals big or small.  

Having two active parents that run together and do other activities is a juggling act, but as my girls are now 16 and 17, and they help to look after my youngest if we are out together.