Aoife’s Story

Many of you know Aoife as one of our very enthuasiastic, inspiring and motivating coaches. However you may not know the journey she has taken to become who she is today. Having lost 6 stone herself over the past few years, Aoife can relate to all of us who struggle with self-belief and motivation. It is such a pleasure to have her on our team. Here is her story…..

I find it hard sometimes to remember the old me. What did I do with my time? How did I manage to go so long without exercise?

For anyone who meets me now, or has met me since 2009, they know a very different version of me than the original Aoife.

In the Summer of 2008 during a visit to the doctor I got a shock. I was told that I was obese, this was not something normal people were told, yes I was carrying a few extra lbs (sure who wasnt), but I was not obese. I didn’t know what people were meant to weigh, but apparently at 5ft 1, on the heavier end of 16 stone was not an ideal weight! Who would have thought. So there its out there… That’s probably the first time I have admitted to that and now to put it in writing it feels better.

So what changed. Alot of hard work, alot of mistakes and a lot of great experiences. I , like many others, was a member of a gym at the time, that didnt mean I was using it correctly. I was going to the gym, I would on occasion spend over an hour there, but not actually achieve anything. I often also rewarded myself with a bag of chips on the way home, or consumed 2 bottles of Lucozade while at the gym undoing any good I was possibly doing.

So in the spring of 2009, my now mother in law told me she was going to walk the women’s mini Marathon (this woman has 2 hip replacements) and she asked me would I walk it with her. I felt so guilty, that I decided I would have to run it! I was going to train for a 10k! Now at this time, I could not run 2 mins without suffering what felt like an asthma attack. So I went out late in the evening because it was dark (I definitely did not want any of my neighbours seeing me having a heart attack on the side of the road). I didnt have a clue. I went for my first run in heavy tracksuit buttoms and a coat. It became clear to me early on that I was an overheater!! I still am when I run, red faced, exhausted looking. After a few weeks I decided to let my boyfriend run with me (he is now my husband). He brought me to the phoenix park and we made it our goal to get from one gate to the other up chesterfield avenue, which was ok after a few weeks but once there you must get back! It was torture, I cried most weeks, thinking of what the doctor had said, realising that I really was in a bad state. I was 26 years old and I was in the worst condition I had ever been in. I played sport in school in the past, so I thought this was going to be easy. I clearly thought wrong.

I completed the mini marathon in an unbelievable time of 68 mins, I cried again. I was so happy when I crossed the finish line that I spent the next few weeks looking for the next challenge. This time John (the previously mentionned husband) was joining me, so we signed up for the Dublin race series that summer, all the way up to half marathon. I had no clue what distance a half marathon was (I later realised its 13.1 miles and dont let anyone take that .1 away from you). I knew nothing of what was ahead of me. Another emotional rollercoaster was ahead. This time I was down 2 and a half stone, so the distances were a little easier not having all that extra weight to carry around.

I finished, the 5 mile, 10 mile and half marathon and honestly thought I was done there. I spent the next year preaching to everyone who would listen about the benefits of exercise, about how much I loved it, running that was, and how if I could do it anyone could. I did everything I could to run every weekend, and a couple of times mid week.

A very good friend of mine joined a group for beginners running, to see if she could do it with ForgetTheGym. One day she said to me, the girls who teach the class remind me of you every day! Needless to say I was intrigued. I contacted Mary and we met for coffee, I saw in her so many things that I could aspire to, but I will never forget what I actually said to her ‘I have no desire to run a marathon’. I really didn’t, 26.2 miles never appealed to me.

On meeting Mary she gave me an opportunity to join in on the classes and see what it was all about. I instantly found that I loved them, I looked forward to them every week, I loved being able to relate my own experiences to what people were going through, struggling with motivation, finding running difficult, not considering myself a runner. It was inevitable, I had to go to college and get a qualification. I studied personal training and then began teaching classes all by myself, I will never forget my first class. I was so nervous and so excited.

At this stage in my life 4 years later I have lost over 6 stone (truth be told I try not to weigh myself any more), ran 6 marathons (thanks for them Mary)!, suffered many injuries and setbacks, but had so many wonderful experiences through running. Yes I am reading this thinking I sound a bit weird. It probably seems that way, but running has a way of inspiring me, of making me a bit philosophical about it all. It has taught me alot about what you can achieve if you put your mind to it and made me realise that I am stronger than I ever give myself credit for.

It is a pleasure to have Aoife coach our students in Clontarf with guest appearances in the Docklands and Sandymount. Thanks Aoife for inspiring and motivating so many more girls to achieve the impossible.

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