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Women in Sport…my hero’s

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After the epic achievement earlier this month by Jasmin Paris winning an Ultra Marathon running challenge and beating the previous record by a whopping 12 hours, I started thinking about women in sport.  It’s been a tough old road for a lot of women and there are so many awe inspiring ladies out there which have paved the way so that we can now enjoy a relative amount of participation in most mainstream sports. I was going to say equality but I don’t believe it is equal at all and we have a long way to go until it is but I think that is for another rant/blog!

A prime example (and one of my running hero’s) is a lady called Kathy Switzer.  If you’ve not heard of her, she is an American runner who, in 1967, became the first ever woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered/official entrant.  She entered as K Switzer as to not alert people to her gender and started the race along side all the other male participants.  During the run, officials noticed her and they tried to grab her and pull her off the course.  Luckily (and due to her boyfriend shoving him to the ground) they didn’t succeed and she went on to complete the race.  The image below shows how violently the race officials wanted her off the route.

Picture Credit:Boston Globe via Getty Images

It is pretty incomprehensible to me that as recently as 1967 women weren’t allowed to run in the majority of races – could you even imagine it?  We totally take it for granted now and we owe a lot of that to this wonderful lady.  Also, what makes her even more of my hero is that in 2017 at the age of 70, she ran the Boston Marathon again wearing the same bib number.  She said that comparing running the race in 1957 and again 50 years later was like “night and day” which is just amazing.

So after thinking about the achievements of Jasmin and Kathy, I was thinking about other amazing women in sport who inspire me and here are my top 3 British athletes:

1 – Denise Lewis

A formidable British track and field Olympian.  She specialised in the Heptathlon and won Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000.  She is an absolutely unbelievable athlete.  To be able to be good at 7 different events must be so bloody tough – her PB at the 100m hurdles is 13.13 seconds – could you even contemplate how fast??! Mindblowing

She was named as the No 1 British Athlete in the late 1990’s and the reason she’s in my top 3 is for her grit and determination.  When she won Olympic Gold in Sydney, she got badly injured during the event with an old Achilles injury which reappeared – they weren’t even sure she was fit enough to finish, let alone win.  But she ran, and in last race of the heptathlon – the 800m with so much pain visually etched on her face – she won. What a woman

2. Jessica Ennis-Hill

My girl crush – she is just awesome!  I thought she was amazing before she became a Mum but she’s gone up even further in my estimation since (even though she’s now retired)

She, like Denise Lewis was a heptathlete  – a 2 time Gold Medal winning Olympian.  When she won in London in 2012 it was unreal.  It’s safe to say she was (and maybe still is) Britain’s most famous athlete.  It’s said that she put 10,000 hours of training into the London Olympics – just wow! 

What sealed her into my top 3 was her return to the sport after having her son.  She went to the Rio Olympics in 2016 and gave it absolutely everything she had and she got the Silver medal.  Some people would say she should have given herself more time to recover and train so she could have come back and got Gold instead but I don’t agree.  To go back out there after have a baby and losing by just 35 points to her competitor is unreal.  The true poise and determination shown by her and the impact this will have on others worldwide is immense.  Proving and showing that having a baby doesn’t stop you doing what you want – to me this is one of her career highlights.

3. Sally Gunnell

Although her career kind of pre-dates me in terms of the fact it was 1986 when she became a household name, she’s definitely got to be in the top 3.  She is one of the most successful British athletes ever. 

I met her a few years back as she was one of the speakers at a recruitment event I went to and man, she is a formidable woman!  The way she talked about how she was coached, the way she had to train her mind as well as her body totally resonated with me.  She had to come back from failures and loses to prove (just to herself) about what she could do…and then she went on and achieved it. 

She was the first British woman to win a track Gold at the Olympics in 1992, was named the International Athletics Female Athlete of the year in 1993 and in 1994 she became the first women to hold the big four major titles in Athletics.

There are so many other women who could make this list but then you’d be bored listening to me ramble on about superstars in sport but I want to hear from you about who inspires you and why….

How did I get here? 2 years on…

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So I thought I’d re-tell my story for all you lovely new followers and members as it’s been a while since I did – plus it’s been about 18 months since I told it so a few things have changed!


First off – I’m Becca and live in Sale and have done for 12 years.  I’m a Southerner, originally from Surrey, but after going to Uni in Nottingham (Trent…not proper Nottingham, always have to clarify!!) I never went home and instead met my now husband and after living the dream for a few more years after Uni in the centre of Notts, we decided to move up to Manchester.


Roll on 12 years of living in Sunny Sale, and I’m now a Mum of 2 kids – Chloe who’s just turned 6 and Harry who’s just turned 3 and I have been running These Mums Do Fitness for just over 2 years.  So how did I get into it all I hear you ask (hopefully!!)…


Almost 3 years ago, I was made redundant whilst on maternity leave with Harry which whilst I kind of had an idea it was coming, was still a hell of a shock.  It was a bit of a game changer.  I loved where I worked before – it was very flexible, I was part time and it worked really well for us so to try and replicate that was going to be pretty tough.  Part time jobs are pretty hard to come by, so I decided to start thinking about doing something completely different and that’s when I started thinking about doing something for or with Mums.  I wanted to use the redundancy as an opportunity to do something that I love and am really passionate about and that’s when I started thinking about fitness.  About how much it helped me start to feel like me again after both my kids and how important it had become in my life and that was the start of the These Mums Do journey.


If you know me, you’ve probably heard but… I put on a LOT of weight when I’m pregnant – can’t really tell you why (cake had a little (LOT) to do with it!) and after having Chloe I really struggled.  I struggled with being at home on my own with this beautiful thing who was completely dependant on me – it was a lot for my head to adjust to and I really didn’t feel like me.  It was hard to admit that I wasn’t coping very well and I needed to do something for me.  So I found out about a fitness class in the park and me and 2 of my antenatal group went down and met a lovely lady called Lorna who ran her own business doing fitness in the parks.  This was it – this was exactly what I needed – this was the start of my journey back to fit.


Lorna’s classes were very similar to what I now run (why change something that works so well!!) – and I cannot tell you how much it helped me.  Just getting outside and into the fresh air to do a workout was amazing – slowly I started losing some weight, gaining in confidence, and I started to start feeling like me again.


Knowing from experience how much doing exercise and regaining my fitness helped me overcome the starting’s of post natal depression, I decided to use this and re-train and become a Personal Trainer. So I pulled a business plan together and ran through the whole thing with my husband and we decided why not give it a try.  It’s funny when I look back now and I remember saying to him “I’ll give it 6-9 months and if it doesn’t work I’ll get a proper job”!!!!


So when Harry was 6 months old, I started my PT qualification and 3 months later I’d qualified which was pretty full on studying and looking after both kids, but when else would I have the opportunity to do something like this?  I took the positive out of it and made it work (just about!)


Then in September 2016 I started the business and it’s genuinely the best thing I’ve ever done.


I currently run Mum & Baby exercise classes, a ladies only evening class, I do 1:1 and small group Personal Training and I also have 3 different running clubs – all in just 3 days a week and as knackering as it is, I absolutely love it.  Being given the opportunity to help Mums on their own fitness journeys and meet their own goals and at the same time, give them the opportunity that I had – to be able to meet new people, get some support and get active is absolutely amazing.  The amount of friendship groups I see being created and the amount of support which each and every member gives to others is totally humbling.  One of my favourite things is to see the Mum and Baby groups all go off for coffee and a catch up after the class – that’s exactly what it’s all about.


There have been so many highlights – I’ve grown my classes from 3-4 people to the biggest Mum and Baby class of 16 and the biggest evening class of 22.  I’ve trained almost 300 beginner runners to get to 5k, I’ve trained over 100 people to get to 10k and I even got 28 lovely ladies trained and round the Manchester Half Marathon.  On top of all this, I also train with over 10 different 1:1 or small group clients per week!


The amount of friends I’ve made, people I’ve helped and how much fun I’ve had along the way makes every minute I spend on the business worthwhile.  It can be totally all consuming some weeks and I sometimes look like the walking dead come Thursday (especially if my husband has been away for the week on business) but it’s totally brilliant!


So if you’re thinking about coming down or want to find out any information about the classes, PT or running club, then don’t hesitate to get in touch…everyone is in exactly the same boat and you definitely wont regret it. Check out my reviews on Facebook for some of the feedback I’ve received since I started and you’ll realise that I have something suitable for everyone.


These Mums Do Fitness..together.  Let’s carry on making this fabulous community!  Mums doing it together and all that!


Right…off to pick up the kids now!  Hope you enjoyed my story and hopefully see you soon

What I wish I knew before starting running…

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I saw these words on a picture on Instagram last week and they really resonated with me and got me thinking – what I wish I knew before I started running…

It’s strange thinking about running in this way as most the time, it’s always looking forward – to the next goal, next challenge, next PB but to look back and see where you’ve come from and what you’ve learnt along the way is extremely cathartic!

So here’s my mumblings about what I wish I knew before I started running:

1 – How ridiculously annoyingly addictive it would become! 

No matter how quick you get, you always think – what about it I could do it a few seconds quicker and no matter how far you go, you always have a voice in your head egging you to go further (except to a marathon…that’s too much for me!!)

2 – Where running would take me

I never in a million years thought I’d become a run leader and inspire others to start running and its genuinely one of my favourite things – to create runners

3 – What running does for me

The mental “space” that running gives me is unparalleled in my life.  I don’t think I could find anything which is a good for me as running is.  Not only does it keep me fit – it keeps me sane.  I know I say it a lot but running for me is more than exercise.  I use it as a way to process things, deal with stuff that happens in my life and cope with stress.  It’s a form of “me-time” which as a mum of 2 who runs her own business is pretty limited.

4 – What running can do for others

I’m still overwhelmed with the feedback I get from the runners I create.  I never realised until I started this business how much running can help others – in the same way it helps me, and also in so many other ways.  From the confidence it gives people to achieve something they didn’t believe they could do to the way exercise gives them the ability to deal with life events such as cancer, bereavement, child loss – too many to list.  I’ve had people tell me they’ve come of anti-depressants, lost huge amounts of weight and even changed their lives from getting active and getting off the couch and start running – it’s totally inspiring.

5 – How frustrating it is getting injured

Getting injured sucks – not only does it hurt (obviously!!) it also means you cant run.  I’m not very good when I’m not allowed to do what I want or am told what to do (shocking, I know!!) so when you’re injured and you’re told to rest up, it’s literally the most frustrating thing ever!  You feel like you go backwards with your training and that you’ll never get back to where you were…but you do and you can.  There’s also a lot to be said for finding a great physio to help your recovery and give you great advice of what you can and cant do – thanks Claire and Felicity!!

6 – That I would be able to do a half marathon

If you’d asked me a few years ago that I would be running my 3rd Half Marathon this year I’d have laughed at you.  I ran, but I wasn’t running consistently.  I’d maybe train for a 10k run and then stop for months and then train again and do the odd parkrun in between.  It’s a long way from where I am now and I am so proud of myself for that.  Half marathon is a huge distance – 13.1 long long miles and running for 2 hours is a massive test of endurance both physically and mentally.  Anyone who even makes it to the start line deserves a huge pat on the back and then to finish is unreal!  I’ve cried both times I’ve crossed the finish line – the crowd, the adrenaline, the achievement.  Makes me so proud of myself, which probably for most of us, doesn’t happen often enough!

7 – (last but not least) How important Foam Rolling is

Like many of you, I’d never heard of Foam Rolling until Claire (physio) who was part of my 5-10k run club at the time mentioned it…and almost fell over shocked when I said I didn’t know about it!  That’s where the Foam Rolling evenings started…anyway, I’ll stop rambling!

Foam Rolling is amazing – it has enabled me to run as many miles as I do every week with only the odd niggle in terms of injury.  Stretching out and rolling on the roller not only aids in recovery so I can have fresh legs the day after, but it helps keep my injuries at bay.  If you’re reading this thinking you’d like to find out more, please let me know as like I said earlier, we host regular Foam Rolling events to teach you about what it is, why do it, and most importantly – how to do it properly!


Right well that’s it – that’s my take on the subject of “what I wish I knew before I started running” and now I want to hear yours….

What do you wish you knew before or what have you learnt since you started?


Guest Blog…Introducing Felicity from Pelvic Physio Manchester

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I took some time to have a great chat and catch up with Felicity who runs Pelvic Physio Manchester.  I’ve known Felicity for just over year and can’t tell you how lovely she is!  She specialises in treating pelvic health issues and is a qualified Mummy MOT Practitioner.  She works for the NHS alongside her private practice and lives and breathes pelvic floors (if that’s even a thing!!)

We’re on a mission to stop women believing you have to “live” with a poor pelvic floor and incontinence and work really closely together to try and help as many people as possible.  So if you’ve any pelvic floor weakness, discomfort or any issues with your stomach muscles or just don’t feel right after having your baby…then Felicity’s your lady.

So read on to find out more about Felicity – where she’s from, why she started Pelvic Physio Manchester and what she cant live without if she was deserted on a desert island…

1- What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Felicity Nicholson and I am from Dublin, Ireland. I moved to Manchester in 2003 to study Physiotherapy and stayed after meeting my husband and starting our family here.

2 – Tell me some facts about you…

I initially studied Biochemistry in Dublin. I still have a big interest in research but now I like applying the research evidence and seeing the direct benefit on the patient in front of me. I’m an eternal student (or maybe just a science geek 🤓). I still have my student card and get a 20% discount in Topshop!

3 – Tell me about what you do and your business Pelvic Physio Manchester…
I am a specialist pelvic physiotherapist, I treat women and men with bladder, bowel, prolapse, or pelvic pain problems.

I know these issues are seen as a big taboo, causing people a great deal of embarrassment and shame, perhaps taking them years to seek treatment which is awful. But once they know that they’re not alone and that simple, effective treatments without the need for surgery is available, I get a massive buzz in helping them reduce their symptoms and achieve their goals.

4 – What motivated you to set up your own business?
Being my own boss means I can work flexible hours and spend more time with my daughter as she’s growing up. I love working in the NHS too, I’m lucky to have a great pelvic health team at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

5 – How long have you been a physio and What made you want to specialise in Women’s Health physiotherapy?
I qualified in 2006, completed my Masters in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy in 2011 with my dissertation in women’s health. I’ve always felt it unfair that women can be left with disabling consequences of giving birth, often feeling they are expected to just accept them.

Not many women feel confident to exercise, enjoy sex or even go out to work when they can’t trust their ability to control their bladder or bowels. I don’t want to see anyone being held back from doing what they want to do because of their pelvic floor problems, because these issues are treatable! I lose my mind with frustration every time I see the Tena adverts encouraging women just to pad up and get on with it.

6 – What can someone expect from a session with you?

A listening ear. Nothing surprises me. I ask lots of questions about your health, obstetric and gynaecological history, occupation, hobbies and goals. After that, I offer a full physical examination and we would discuss the relevant anatomy and treatment options to help get you back on track.

7 – What’s the most common injury you see in Mums & do you have any handy hints/prevention methods? 
The most common condition I treat is stress incontinence, with 1 in 3 women experiencing leakage of urine with coughing, jumping or laughing. More people have incontinence in the UK than diabetes, asthma and epilepsy combined.

The main cause is pelvic floor weakness secondary to pregnancy and childbirth. Pelvic floor muscle training is the first line treatment for stress incontinence.

We know that doing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy helps to reduce the risk of problems postnatally. Sometimes we just aren’t sure if we are doing them right and I recommend getting checked out with a women’s health physio who will be able to give you a personalised exercise programme and treatment plan. If in doubt, get it checked out.

8 – What’s your top tips for new Mums who are getting back to exercise?
Start slowly and gently with low impact exercise like walking, pilates, yoga, swimming and build up gradually. You are only as strong as your weakest muscle – work on improving your pelvic floor strength everyday.

Listen to your body- don’t ignore symptoms of incontinence or vaginal prolapse, seek help from your GP or women’s health physio. At Pelvic Physio Manchester we offer a Mummy Mot; a post natal Physiotherapy assessment from 6 weeks post birth onwards, where we assess your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor to ensure they are recovering well and we can advise you, based on your own circumstances, how to get back exercising safely.

9 – Let’s talk pelvic floor…what’s your advice to anyone who’s experiencing pelvic floor problems?

It really depends on what the problems are. We treat such a variety of problems; stress incontinence, urgency or frequency, urge incontinence, prolapse, constipation, leakage or urgency with bowel movements, pain with intercourse, or chronic pelvic pain. These problems don’t get better on their own, are often treatable without the need for surgery and you don’t have to suffer in silence. Seek advice from your GP or women’s health physio today.

To practice pelvic floor exercises first we want to locate where these muscles are; they run from the pubic bone to the tail bone and out to both sitting bones, surrounding the entrances to the bladder, vagina and bowels. To squeeze your pelvic floor imagine you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind, and then draw that sensation around to the front as if you are trying to stop yourself from passing wee. It’s a squeeze and a lift inside. Make sure you are not holding your breath, squeezing your buttocks or thighs. We want to be doing 10 quick squeezes for coordination so the muscles kick in quickly when we cough or sneeze and 10 long squeezes, for up to ten seconds, for endurance. If you feel the muscles are slipping away after say 5 seconds, just hold for 4 seconds, relax the muscles completely and try to do up to 10. Then the following week hold for 5 seconds and progress gradually till you can hold for 10. Try to do the exercises in different positions, lying, sitting or standing, three times a day for at least three months to see results, then it’s once a day for life. We need to use the pelvic floor muscles when we need them, so try to tighten them before coughing.

More information on pelvic floor exercises can be found at the Pelvic Obstetric and Gynaecology Physiotherapy website (

10 – What’s your personal favourite type of exercise and why?

This week it’s been mainly dancing in the kitchen with a two year old. I love Pilates and teach a pregnancy Pilates class at The Pilates Rooms in Urmston.

Yoga, snowboarding and horse riding would also be my exercise of choice when I have the time. I’m a big fan of the couch to 5k running programme and have completed it a few times. When you’ve got a young family it’s easiest to run out the door and escape for a 30 minute run whenever you get the opportunity.

11 – What’s your best piece of advice to new mums who are having body confidence issues?

Get yourself some good mummy friends and talk. We’re all in this together and we need to support each other. I recommend classes like Becca’s where you are outside in the fresh air, with like-minded mums, exercising releases feel-good hormones to lift mood and an extra bonus- get you fitter!

12 – What can’t you live without?

Breathing. Might seem a bit obvious but nothing beats a few deep diaphragmatic belly breaths to take stress levels down. I find myself needing to do this quite a bit!- As I’m sure most mums do. Also people with pelvic pain problems are often breathing only into the top parts of their lungs, re-learning how to direct their breath into their belly, helps to relax the pelvic floor and can relieve pain and tension.

13 – I feel most at home…

When I’m with family and friends, wherever that is.

14 – How would your friends describe you?

I have no idea! Tall, Irish, ..amazing? 😉

15 – If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things (not people!!) would you take and why?

Fire, water and my iPhone.

So if you have any concerns or just want to talk through anything at all to make sure what you’re going through more “normal” then please get in touch.

Felicity’s contact details are:

Number – 07835157104

Email –

Website –

Guest Blog……Introducing my fabulous Run Leader Laura McKinney

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Laura, This Mum Can’s fabulous Run Leader took some time from her crazy schedule to talk to me about her, the love she has for running and what she can’t live without!  Laura’s kicking off her first solo led runs on Saturday morning as part of the new half marathon running club which started on Monday.

Who are you, where are you from and tell me some facts about you!

I’m Laura – I was born in Scotland, moved to Ireland where I grew up and then moved to Manchester last year with my Husband and 3 kids.  Before I moved to Manchester last year, I was a prop buyer and set decorator in film and TV.  This is where/how I met my husband.  He often works away and on one of his jobs he worked in Manchester and loved it.  He said “Hey, why don’t we all move here, it’s great”, so we did!


I feel most at home when…

I’m cuddled up on the couch with my 3 kids after I’ve just run 21kms


When did you start running and what got you into it?

Just after my 2nd child was born I walked the Dublin mini-marathon which was a 10k race – the largest event of it’s kind and I remember thinking “next year, I want to run this” and that was that!


What made you join a running club? 

I joined a running club back in Ireland years ago to help me reach my mini marathon goal of 10k – I was so nervous the first time but I felt really at home when I started it and I made some amazing friends.  I had a collicy baby driving me nuts and I needed to run off some steam and I was hooked.  When I moved to Manchester I saw Becca’s poster in Worthington Park – it was a lifeline as I didn’t want to run on my own all the time


Tell me about your best ever run?

I think it was probably when I ran the Connamarathon Half – it’s a rugged hilly course in the West of Ireland.  This was my first ever half marathon and I loved every second of it


What do you enjoy most about running with This Mum Can Fitness?

I love meeting like-minded people and when I started with the group, it was a lifeline – it also helps me to not get lost on my runs (which I have a huge habit of!!)

What motivated you to become a Run Leader?

When Becca offered me the opportunity to train as a Run Leader, I jumped at the chance.  I couldn’t have run all the races I have without other peoples support so I wanted to help train others.  We are all run leaders in our own way

What can someone expect from a run session with you?

I hope they will have fun!  You can run any distance if you do the proper training and learn to pace yourself and have the right attitude but the most important thing is that you’re enjoying it.


Do you get injured at all?  Do you have any handy hints/injury prevention tips that you can share?

I get the odd niggle but if you listen to your body and remember to stetch you should be fine.  Epsom salt baths are amazing and drink plenty of water.


What’s your top tips for new Mums who are getting back to exercise?

I literally ran from one lamppost to the next when I began running – we all have to start somewhere.  No-one is judging you, only yourself, so be kind and just get out there.


Let’s talk pelvic floor…what’s your advice to anyone who’s experiencing issues whilst running?

I try to do my exercises semi-regularly!  I guess I also try and engage my core when I run and that helps me.  Yoga’s great too to focus you on your core.  I’ve never had major issues luckily


What’s your personal favourite type of run training and why?

Speed work and hill training are great (when they’re over!) and they really work but my absolute favourite type of run is a long social run with a good friend when we put the world to rights!


What’s your best piece of advice to runners?

You learn the most on a bad run…never give up


What cant you live without?

A sense of humour


How would you friends describe you?



If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you take and why?

Sports Bra and a blankety blank cheque book and pen!

The Importance of Good Trainers for Running

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This next blog is about something which is vital to all runners – the importance of wearing a good running shoe.  Everyone is different and has a different shoe need but running shoes “are designed to protect your feet from the road, provide traction on different surfaces, cushion the landing shock and support your feet” (

I’m trainer obsessed…yes, I admit it!! It must be a family things as my brother even collects them (yes that’s a thing!) I’ve 3 pairs of running shoes, 1 pair of training shoes and a couple of pairs of “fashion” trainers that I don’t really do any sport in, they just look pretty!!  You might be thinking “why does she have so many” and I admit I’m able to wear trainers a lot more than the average person so I do need a few extra pairs for if they get soaked or muddy, etc but please let me explain why I’ve more than one pair of running shoes…

A running shoe has a “life” and its estimated that this is around 300-500 miles before you should replace it, so I have 2-3 pairs of running shoes that I alternate between.  I wear the newer pair (once worn in) for my longer runs and then alternate between the two older pairs for other, shorter runs.  I can feel in a shoe when it starts to need to be replaced – I note achier calf muscles, sorer knees, etc when a shoe isn’t up to scratch any longer.  “Each time you take a stride and land, your foot has to absorb 2 to 3 times your body weight” ( so it’s vital that the cushioning and support that a trainer has to offer is up to scratch.

It is essential for injury free running that you’re sporting the right footwear.  The first thing I ask any of my runners when they tell me about an injury or pain in their knee, shin, back, ankle is about their shoes and whether they are fit for purpose.  You’d be amazed at what some people run in…

There are so many different types of running shoe – for performance/distance, racing, trail running, etc and there are 3 main categories of “feet” which is all linked to your gait which is the running term for how you run.  It can all get a bit mind blowing…“Running shoes should not only provide substantial midsole cushioning, they should offer arch support, aid the prevention of injuries and can promote improved athletic performance” (  It’s a lot from one little thing but it’s the most important bit of kit required for running.  But don’t worry – there are professionals out there that can help!  But before you go you need to ask the following question

What is it I’m training for? Are you a beginner trying to get to 5k, are you going for your first 10k or half or are you full blown marathon training?  The style and amount of cushioning/stability depends on what you are training for.  Quick hint…please don’t pick shoes entirely on colour or style.  It’s not about how they look it’s about how they fit your feet.  Obviously you have to like them but please don’t just get the prettiest in the shop!

So back to the professionals.  There are a number of Running shops out there – loads in the local area (Up and Running in Manchester, RealBuzz in Altrincham, Running Bear in Alderley Edge to name a few) and they are fabulous.  The staff are well trained and will be able to answer any running shoe queries you may have (hopefully!!)  What they’ll do first of is understand your “gait” by assessing how you run on a treadmill (in store).  They will look at how you run and analyse (in layman’s terms) how your stride lands on the belt and see what your feet and ankles do.  You gait goes into three categories – neutral, overpronate (feed land inwards) or supinate (feet land outwards)  Once they have seen how you run and what support your feet need, they will then recommend a shoe which is fit for purpose.  They will offer your shoes which cushion, support and stabilise your feet and ankles. In my personal opinion (and everyone has different) the top running shoes brands for me are Brooks, Asics, Adidas and Mizuno (not in any particular order!!) so keep an eye out for these.  My personal fave is Adidas but I’ve just got a new pair of Brooks and I love them!

By way of my final piece of advice and something which isn’t talked about that much is all about how your shoes fit.  They must feel comfy – they should fit you like a glove so to speak!  Also, you need a bit of space at the end of your shoe – the recommendation is a full thumbs width (yes, like Clarks!!)  This is, I’ve heard, one of the most commonly made mistakes from people with their running shoes.  It is down to the fact that your feet swell and expand when running and you need that extra room to accommodate this.  If your shoes are too small you run the risk of blisters or sore feet (or losing toenails if you’re marathon running – ewwwww!!)

So by way of ending this – go grab your runners and have a look at them and if you’ve even contemplating the fact that they’re probably on their way out, go grab yourself a new pair – in the same way that no-one ever regrets a workout, no-one ever regrets getting a decent, supportive pair of trainers.  If you want any advice please just comment or ask and I’ll share some wisdom if I can!!

Guest Blog…Lorrie Hartshorn on why hiring a PT is one of the best things she’s ever done

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“Treat yourself to some me-time,” they said…

My time with Becca is 100%, unashamedly for me, and there’s something really powerful in blocking out that space every week to look after myself.

Hiring a personal trainer wasn’t something I ever thought I’d do. But, until I became a mum, there was something I didn’t realise:

A tired woman covered in Petits Filous will pull some strange shit.

So while I don’t know quite why I suddenly emailed a personal trainer to book a session, what I do know is this:

  • It was a really big deal for me
  • I felt slightly sick once I hit send

OK, more than slightly.

Wanting to be more than mum

I had my little girl when I was 30. With her came a whacking great dose of post-natal depression.

I did everything to look after her, and nothing to look after myself. Nearly three years later, I was tired, pissed off and really, really unhappy in my body.

I loved being a mum. What I didn’t love was the fact that, somewhere along the line, I’d stopped being anything but mum.

Life was moving in ever-decreasing circles: baby groups, library sessions, supermarket trips, naps in the car.

And right there at the centre of it all was me: overweight, depressed, and almost always slumped in baggy, yoghurt-covered leggings.

Facebook: finally good for something

I found This Mum Can on Facebook.

I’d joined a group for our local area and, in a sudden burst of motivation (I’d had more coffee than usual), I typed up a thread asking members to recommend a personal trainer in south Manchester.

Before I hit enter, I went back and rejigged my post: I wanted a female PT who knew about motherhood and all the never-ending, yoghurt-slinging shit challenges that came with it.

The first poster recommended Becca.

Then the next one.

Then the next.

Either she was really good, or she’d got a lot of fake Facebook accounts. Either way, she seemed like a good choice.

I booked a session.

The Mouth from the South arrives…

Becca turned up at my house with a number of terrifying things: a step, weights, a mat, and a look on her face that said, “You’re about to exercise.”

She’s very expressive.

We started at what I now realise was a super gentle pace, baby-stepping into HIIT (high intensity interval training) with plenty of gaps between sets so I could lie face-down on my patio and wonder why I was doing this to myself.

And we got through it. I got through it.

Becca was really motivating, and my shame at being so unfit didn’t seem to faze her – as she put it, there were only three rules:

1) Don’t faint

2) Don’t puke

3) Don’t die

The way she figured, if I worked hard enough to hate it, I wouldn’t do it again.

Again! Again!

I did it again.

I signed up for another five sessions. Then another 10. And we’re still going.

The exercises have got harder, the weights have got heavier, the gaps between sets have got shorter.

And me?

I’ve got stronger. I’ve got more toned. I’ve taken up running and smashed the targets I set for myself. I’ve ugly cried after getting off the treadmill because I was proud, and I’ve never been proud of my body.

Now, my little girl plays in the garden and joins in while Mummy and “Auntie Becca” work out. And when I’ve had to take breaks for illness or to recover from some surgery, I’ve wanted to get back to it.

I’ve never wanted to work out before.

Hiring a PT has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

My time with Becca is 100%, unashamedly for me, and there’s something really powerful in blocking out that space every week to look after myself.

Working out has taught me that I want to be strong, not skinny. It’s shown me that I can actually stick to things that I find tough rather than throwing the towel in (or at Becca).

And it’s taught me to look after my sizeable bum with lots and lots of squats, because who wants a pancake ass anyway?

I’m pretty sure I’ll keep This Mum Can Fitness around. I’ve got more goals and a long way to go before I’ll feel as fit as I want to be, but I really feel like I’m on the right track.

This mum can. This mum did.

Lorrie’s a Manchester copywriter – When she’s not being tortured by Becca, she spends her time sitting on her fabulous, squat-enhanced bootay and writing website content for her lovely clients.

Diastasis Recti – what it means, how to help it heal & what to do if it’s you’re not feeling right

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The official medical term for this is “diastasis recti abdominus” and although often referred to as a “Mum Tum” it is actually a medical condition which in some cases can have serious consequences.   It is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominis, the so called ‘six-pack’ muscles, spread apart at the stomach midline (the linea alba).  Separation of your abdominal muscles during your 3rd trimester of pregnancy is entirely normal and ALL women will experience this to a degree.  This is due to the growth of the baby in the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, and pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue.  Separation can occur any time in the last trimester but is most problematic after pregnancy when the abdominal wall is weak.

What are the consequences?  When the stomach muscles are drawn apart during pregnancy they are unable to work properly and can’t respond to the stresses and strains of the day to support your body as they should, and it can prevent optimal function of the core.  Your abdominals are important in supporting your back if a diastasis is left untreated, it can cause a number of issues including pain in your back or pelvis, poor core stability and pelvic floor dysfunction – yes, you read that right – pelvic floor muscles.  66% of women with diastasis recti have some level of pelvic floor dysfunction (Spitznagle et al 2007).

Your stomach muscles and pelvic floor muscles are intrinsically linked and to strengthen one will hugely help the other.  This is another reason why doing your pelvic floor exercises is so important.  In many cases physio is needed to help restore stability to the abdominals so they can function optimally.  It is easy to check if you have a diastasis; lie on your back with your knees bent and press your fingers down towards your spine a few centimetres above and below your belly button, perform a sit up movement and see can you feel the rectus abdominus muscles come together around your fingers. If the gap is more than two fingers width, you should seek out physiotherapy to help abdominal recovery.

Traditional “ab” work like crunches and planks won’t restore normal muscle activity if you have a diastasis and if performed inefficiently, can actually cause more harm than good.  This is why I never have “crunches” or anything like that in my classes and why I demonstrate ½ planks along side full planks or give you the option to do a totally different exercise so that you don’t do anything unsuitable until your body is “ready” and back to normal – whatever normal might be!!

Some helpful tips for general function and healing after having a baby are:

  1. Reduce the load on your abdominal wall by avoiding excessive lifting and twisting – when getting out of bed, always roll onto your side, drop your legs off together and push up into a sitting position with your arms. Do the reverse to get back into bed.
  2. Allow your body to rest as much as possible for the first 4-6 weeks. As hard as it is for some (not so much for others!!) your body WILL thank you for it.  From 6 weeks post labour (10 after c-section) you are fine to start exercising but take things easy – don’t do full HIIT training off the internet – try and exercise with someone like me, a post natal specialist.  I’m qualified to know suitable exercises and also quickly adapt exercises if you can’t fully complete the full one or if it hurts you section scar, etc
  3. Avoid all activities that place stress on your stomach, and that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall. Movements to avoid:
    • All strenuous exercises that cause your abdominal wall to bulge out
    • Sit ups/abdominal crunches
    • Holding baby on one hip continuously
    • Lifting and carrying heavy objects – this includes the car seat so be very careful when lifting that in and out of the car and avoid carrying it for prolonged periods of time
    • Intense coughing while your muscles are unsupported (obviously sometimes unavoidable but if possible!)
  4. When lifting your baby, draw in and hold your tummy muscles, bend your knees and bring baby into your chest when you lift.
  5. Keep yourself well hydrated and eat as healthily as possible to promote tissue healing. As hard as it is, the more fruit and veg you have early on, the healthy option will help your recovery – sorry!!! Ha ha

So by way of finishing this blog – if you don’t feel “right” please don’t ignore it – get some help.  Your doctor can refer you for appointment with a specialist women’s health physiotherapist.  Professional advice is essential in your recovery and the sooner you do it, the better it is.  Please speak to your GP before or at your 6 week check and they will be able to refer you for an NHS appointment.

If you didn’t want to wait for an NHS referral, you can go to a Mummy MOT practitioner privately. I work closely with pelvic physiotherapist, Felicity Nicholson who provides a specialist post natal physiotherapist assessment called a ‘Mummy MOT’. She believes all women postnatally should be able to access pelvic physiotherapy to help them recover optimal pelvic health. She works in the NHS and privately and uses pilates to help mums restore optimum abdominal and pelvic floor recovery.  These do cost money (approx. £65-75) but (personally) they’re worth the investment entirely as you get a personal  1:1 session to discuss any issues or problems you may have discovered and you get a tailored plan designed specifically for your post natal rehab.

Race Prep – hints and tips

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To follow on my diet blog from a few weeks ago and due to the fact my first 10k of 2018 is coming up on the 10th March, this week I’m blogging about “race prep diet” and what I recommend.  Now I only run (relatively) short distances – primarily 5k and 10k’s, so these tips are only for those distances.  I’ve never run a marathon so would highly recommend thorough research on diet and race prep if you’re thinking of doing that.  Right with that caveat out the way…


The day before a race…this is when I actually start my “race” prep as before this point, I’m just eating my normal healthy(ish) diet! First off, I totally 100% ensure that I’m hydrated – today of all days I ensure I’ve had my 8 glasses of water – it’s so important for your body to be firing on all cylinders.  Most people have heard about “carb loading” before a run, well I kind of agree but don’t take this too far!  It’s important to get a few extra carbs in the night before a race.  This could be pasta, rice, potato or cereal based carbs  but don’t eat too much.  A normal sized portion is more than enough as carb loading too much or overeating can make you feel bloated and sluggish and that’s the last thing you’d want before a run.  Lean protein alongside the carbs is great – chicken is always my go to as it’s so versatile.  Try and avoid anything too high in fat like cheese sauces, pastry, cream as these can sit heavy on your stomach and can be slower to transit through your system.


The day of the race…breakfast is NON-NEGOTIABLE.  You have to eat.  You need energy in your system to burn in order to run at your best.  Eat at least 1 hour before the run is due to start.  Some winning pre-race breakfasts include:

  • Bagel and peanut butter
  • Toast with jam or honey
  • Granola, yoghurt and fruit
  • Porridge

All the above top up the “glycogen levels” which is the stored energy in your muscles which will release slowly during your run.

I team my breakfast with a smoothie – I’ve tried the protein shake route a few times but personally I prefer a scoop or two of the powder in a smoothie rather than in milk.  My fave smoothie is a Joe Wickes (shock horror) one called Fats Me Up Smoothie – it’s got almond milk, yoghurt, blackberries, blueberries, avocado and a little honey in it – it’s amazing!


Personally I like to drink a sports drink on the way to the race rather than water for that extra sugar hit.  My favourite is Lucozade Orange (it’s also a fab hangover cure…ha ha) and I will sip probably half a bottle on my way to the run.  I hate needing a wee as it annoys me to stop on the way round (if there’s even the facilities to do so!!) and running needing a wee is just the pits so I tend to limit my drinking until the race is done and then I rehydrate with water (and maybe a few sneeky prosecco’s!!)


Anyone got any fab tips to share?  I love hearing everyone’s pre-race hints and rituals…

Running and raising money….This Mum Can Run!

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Fundraising for SANDS – what I’m doing and why

I like to raise money for Charity – it’s my way of giving back and the feeling you get when you have hit your fundraising target it amazing!!  It really does help you run quicker and further!!

For 2018 I decided to get my clients and followers to choose which charity to fundraise for.  It was an extremely tight vote but the charity which won was SANDS – the stillbirth and neonatal death charity – sadly a charity extremely close to too many of us.

If anyone isn’t aware of what they do…“Sands supports anyone affected by the death of a baby, works in partnership with health professionals to try to ensure that bereaved parents and families receive the best possible care and funds research that could help to reduce the numbers of babies dying and families devastated by this tragedy”

Sadly 15 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every day in the UK which is just shocking.  I couldn’t even imagine the horror of this so want to do everything I can to raise money to not only help research to reduce this number but also to help support the families who have to live through the tragedy of losing their little ones.

So what am I doing…

First off – Running – A LOT!!  I’ve currently signed up (or going to sign up to) the following runs:

  1. Arley Hall 10k on the 10th March 2018
  2. Manchester 10k on the 20th May 2018
  3. We Are Manchester 10k on the 8th July 2018
  4. Tough Mudder on the 9th September 2018
  5. Manchester Half Marathon on the 14th October
  6. Tatton 10k – November/December – cant decide which!


Secondly – donate a % of my running club profits.  I am going to donate £1 for everyone who signs up to my 5-10k running club for 2018 to the charity

Thirdly – charity events – hopefully 4-5 of them.  My first one is to organise a bleep test for member to take part in! Logistics and everything need to be sorted and I will keep you posted on this, I’ll run some charity runs over the summer with a % of the entry going to Sands and finally I’ll do some other events – any ideas welcome!!

My plan is to get as many people as possible to run for Sands so collectively we can raise a HUGE amount of money for the extremely important work they do and for the research they continue to do into causes and preventions so that hopefully fewer and fewer people have to go through this.  Please let me know if you’d like to be added to the main This Mum Can Page or let me know if you set up your own Just Giving page as I’d love to keep a tally of how much we’ve raised in total.  Obviously I will keep you posted throughout the year on how we’re getting on!

Also, if you have any great fundraising ideas, please get in touch as I’d love to do loads of different things this year…