At Runderwear™, we love hearing directly from our customers and the amazing Chloe Woolf provided us with our next blog entry. Read on to hear all about Chloe’s inspiring journey!
So, my story in sport started many years ago, at the age of 6 (I’m now 34), with an inspiring running coach at school. I loved mud and I loved running, so cross country was made for me. I competed in all the sports offered at my school, but cross-country and athletics were definitely my favourites. I don’t remember ever thinking of running as ‘training’ as our sessions were just fun. My junior school competing career finished at the National Prep Schools Championships over 800 metres. Fast-forward a few (running free) years and I moved back to the New Forest in 2009, returned to running and fell back in love with it.
Back pain had been a part of my life for so many years that I almost didn’t really notice it anymore. In 2013 I ran my first marathon (Paris) and got a Good For Age time for the London Marathon. London in 2014 (3:09:00) qualified me for the UK Marathon Championship start back at the London Marathon in 2015. It was in the build-up to 2015 where things took a twist. The back pain went from bad to worse and varied from complete numbness from the waist down whilst running to massive burning pain and pins and needles in my legs. On the advice of my Osteopath (who I came to know quite well), I headed off for an MRI. It turned out that there were some fairly major issues. Whilst I don’t know the medical lingo, I do remember the words of the consultant the first time I met him – ‘yes, you have some problems but we can fix them and have you running marathons again’. So, in July 2015, I went under the knife and had 4 pins screwed into my lower back.
The recovery wasn’t fun (actually, it was hideous), but 6 weeks after surgery I was told I could begin to think about running again – not for very long and not on the road, but on grass or the treadmill. It took a while for the pain to drop to a level where I could, and for my confidence to return to a level where I wasn’t terrified of doing any damage. Within 12 weeks I was back at my local parkrun (albeit slowly). As it transpired, 2016 turned out to be a very good running year for me with PB’s over 5K, 10K, 10 miles and the ½ marathon.
In December 2016, 16 months after surgery, I ran a low key, mainly off road marathon, to prove to myself that I was capable of taking up the London Marathon Championship place I had deferred from 2016 to April 2017. I ran 3:23 in Portsmouth, a week before Christmas, with no marathon specific training (I ran only one 20 miler) and realised that I was back in business. Cue another Winter/Spring of training for London 2017. Ultimately, the race was hampered by a calf issue on the day but I loved it and, for the first time, finished with a massive smile on my face not caring about the time – I now appreciate running so much more than I did before.
It was at the London Marathon Expo 2017 at the ExCel Centre that I came across Runderwear. I have been rubbed raw by my running bras for many years (and I have the scars to prove it) and had pretty much given up on finding one that didn’t rub. I stumbled across the stand purely by chance, had a chat to a really helpful lady and decided that buying a bra (in bright pink…obviously) was worth a punt, what was the harm. It was the best money I think I’ve ever spent on sports apparel and has completely revolutionised running. I no longer get rubbed and no longer get in the shower at the end of a run and scream because the water stings where I’ve been rubbed so badly. I simply cannot recommend them enough.
So, what’s my next challenge? Bolton Ironman 2018! I accept that this is a crazy challenge given that I hate cycling. I do however love running and I have learnt to love open water swimming. Whilst I’m not sure that I’ll ever love cycling, I’m hoping that I’ll learn to hate it less. It’s a new challenge, and one that is going to be tough around a full-time job, but I can’t wait.