Gail's Story

Four years ago, Gail was 22 stone. Her training started by using Couch-to-5K and worked up to running a Marathon in 2018, weighing only 11 stone!

I am Gail Tennant, I work in the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow. I have battled with my weight from a very young age, I loved food and did not have any self-control with sweets and crisps. The older I got, the worse this got and even though I tried just about every diet out there, I never managed any long-term success. Every diet would usually lead to a weight gain to a higher weight. Because I had been heavy most of my life, I carried on accepting that this was the way I was, I would never be slim.

At 40 I weighed 22 stone but life was good with my husband and two fantastic daughters and I thought I was living my life. At the start of 2015, I was visiting my friend in Aviemore and she was training for a marathon. She looked and felt amazing and I just thought how great it would be just to run a short distance. She explained to me that she had started with a Couch to 5k app on her phone and it took her about 6 months before she really felt the results and that I should give it a go.

I thought about trying the app for a while and eventually I downloaded it and went to a path behind where I live so that no one would see me.  I will never forget the first 60 seconds, I just thought running wasn’t for me but I carried on with the session.  After the rest day I gave the next session a go and then kept going but I repeated Week 1 for many weeks before moving up to the next level but I kept going.

I signed up for my first 5k run in May 2015, Race for Life, it took 51 minutes but I did it, the finish felt great.  My friend talked me in to running my first 10k in the October.  I continued running (run/walk) 3 times a week, I was a nervous wreck at the thought but at the event she stayed with me every step of the way for 1hr 38mins.  I was totally hooked and entered more events to keep me motivated and focused.  I have found that signing for events means I will do them.

In March 2016 I joined Slimming World because I was struggling to lose weight on my own as I had only lost about 15lbs. This was an ideal eating plan that I could work around my running, in August 2016 I ran my first Half Marathon at just under 18 stone.  I couldn’t believe that someone like me could achieve something like that and felt like a could take on the world.

Along with my training and events I had entered, I started doing weekly parkruns in September 2016, the timed 5ks every Saturday morning.  I was so worried about going along to my first one that I volunteered the first time.  I shouldn’t have worried because all abilities go to parkrun and I got totally hooked on the atmosphere and the friendliness of everyone.  It was ideal for me because I could blend in and enjoy the events. I have already earned my 50th parkrun t-shirt and I am six away from my 100th t-shirt.

In February 2018 I ran Barcelona Half Marathon which was my 9th half marathon and the first time I had run the full distance without any walking.  Every finish line has been amazing but to do this one was incredible for me and I started to think maybe I could become a ‘real’ runner.

For two years I had wanted to join JogScotland so after Barcelona I decided that if I could do that half marathon I could turn up to my local running club.  I was so nervous, worrying about keeping up with other runners, running up hills etc I almost talked myself back out of it.  I was made so welcome and before I knew it the first run was done and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The support that I have gotten from this totally inclusive club has been wonderful.  I felt I had gotten so much from JogScotland that I wanted to get more involved, something I have never wanted to do as I would normally be the person hiding in the background.  I volunteered to train to be a Jog Leader, I was shaking as I asked one of the other Jog Leaders about it but in August 2018 I qualified as a Jog Scotland Jog Leader.  My ID card came through the post with the envelope stamped with the Scottish Athletics, I just kept looking at it as it felt so unreal.  I started taking out the various levels of runners out anything up to 5 days a week.  I love it, I can encourage and support newer runners because I have been at their level as well as discuss events and motivate experienced runners.

I reached my target weight, losing a total of 11.5 stone and I won Slimming World Woman of the Year within my class in September 2018.  I went on to the Regional Finals and although I didn’t win that, I had a great day sharing my story. Then later that month I finally did it, I completed my first full marathon, Loch Ness in 4 hours 45 minutes and I still can’t believe I did it.  Two of my friends and eldest daughter supported me throughout the route.  The support I received from family, friends, colleagues, JogScotland and Slimming World was amazing and I couldn’t have done it without them all.

My journey has had its ups on downs, my head probably has been my biggest obstacle but believing the people that believed in me has let me overcome my own doubts.  I was the child that didn’t get picked for sports, grew up feeling inadequate because I wasn’t slim or fit and never having any belief in myself and now I will give anything ago, I am no longer frightened of failure. I have been more successful this time because I found an activity that I truly love, I get so much back from it, I have slimmed to run rather than running to slim.

Juggling family, work, running and my slimming class can be difficult at times but my family have been so supportive.  My youngest daughter comes to my slimming class with me, my eldest daughter took up running in September 2017, starting with parkrun and now she trains with me and my husband does so much around the house to help me.  I do feel guilty sometimes but I am a totally different person now, so much happier and with my new lease for life I do lots more quality things with them. I have done some aerial rope courses, did a bungee swing and last year went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and was able to go on the rides which my weight would have previously prevented. I still need to break the habit of looking at things and trying to judge if they will take my weight, that will take time.

For anyone thinking of taking up running it is a lifestyle change and a long-term activity but keeping records of the runs either by a phone app or a diary will show even the smallest improvement which is an amazing motivator.  It is the same with the healthy eating too, keeping measurements, photos and an item of clothing in the smaller size are great for keeping focused when the results are not showing on the scales.

I used to dread being around people, preferring to be more isolated, now I have surrounded myself with people by becoming part of the social team within my Slimming World class and the running groups that I run with, I love getting people out running no matter their ability.  I have so many special people in my life now that I would never have met if it wasn’t for running.  I also hope that I am a positive role model to my children and prove that a healthy life style is so important to lead a happy fulfilled life.

I have a few exciting things to keep me motivated this year.  I was selected to be part of the Slimming World Team running the London Marathon.  This was a dream come true, to bring together running and Slimming World to raise money for a charity close to my heart.  I was successful in the ballot for the Great North Run in September and I have also entered the Loch Ness Marathon again.  Each year just gets better and better. Gail