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  • Always warm up properly before a race

  • Join a running club to meet new friends and be inspired

  • Stretch properly post race to avoid injury

  • Don’t be too ambitious with your goals

  • Don’t expect too much too soon.

  • Improvement takes time

  • Always try and accomodate longer runs in your schedule

  • You are never too old to take up running

Nadia Winborn

Written by Simon Linklater

When I think of Nadia’s journey I can’t get the chorus from Chumbuwumba’s 90s classic Tubthumping out of my head. Nadia has experienced her fair share of knockdowns but this is a woman who refuses to accept the referees 10 count and continues to pick herself off the canvas and throw punches of her own.

Just before her 50th birthday, she took a right uppercut from AJ on the chin, when her GP told her that she was a pre-diabetic and morbidly obese. For someone like Nadia who had been very sporty at school this was tough to take. It was an accumulation of bad habits caused by poor diet and stressful career.

Clearly the punch left her shaken, she blamed herself and was disappointed for reaching this stage. But she became more determined than ever. She dusted herself down, put her gloves back on and got to work.

Her journey began walking twice a week for an hour with a friend. They soon found their fitness levels improving and it wasn’t before long that their walks became a jog.

I’ve come to realise Nadia loves a challenge and she’s certainly not afraid to dive in at the deep end. I’ve tried to imagine the conversation she had with her friend on one of their walks.

Nadia: I’m feeling quite fit with all this walking, how about we do a challenge of some sort?
Friend: Good idea, the Race4Life is a nice 5k walk around the park.
Nadia: I was thinking perhaps something a bit more demanding.
Friend: They also do 2 laps totalling 10K.
Nadia: How about 26 miles?
Friend: What? Are you mad?
Nadia: No we will be fine. It will be great.
Friend: If you insist.
Nadia: I know, why don’t we do it at night time when it’s pitch black?
Friend: 🙈

We already know how strong Nadia is and she took on this fear head first. Despite doubting herself she decided to take a leap of faith and join the local club Hastings Runners. At the time she was thinking “Am I too old to run at 50?”. “Will I be the slowest one there?”. “Will I get lost or left behind?”.

All these insecurities were quickly answered at her first club run. Despite turning up late and joining the quicker improvers group (oops), Nadia soon realised that the other runners were very supportive and they took it in turns to drop back, run alongside her and encourage her to keep going.

She soon met older runners who had also taken up the sport in their 50s. The decision to join a club was a huge boost to her confidence and helped her make a lot of new friends.

Nadia’s confidence has improved so much that she is now a Race Director at Hastings parkrun and will happily stand up in front of 350+ runners to bark directions at them prior to the race. An amazing transformation in such a short space of time.

And so her first challenge was set. The moonwalk in 2016. 26 miles around London during the night. A route they completed in 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Parkrun soon followed and Nadia completed her first 5k in 41 minutes. She soon became a regular and earned the nickname the “Winborn Express” thanks to her rapid improvement. In fact she had 21 PBs in under a year. It was in April 2017 she recorded her current PB of 25:05.

Nadia had another fear to overcome. She was terrified of crowded places and was much happier hiding away.

At first this was an issue in races and she would drift to the back and hang around on the side of the pack too, waiting for the race to start before gradually over taking those slower than her.

Back to her running. 2017 was a fantastic year as she completed her first half marathon and was entering races left right and centre. Not only does she have the medals to show for it, but Nadia keeps her Race Numbers in a neat pile in the order she ran them.

Completing her first half marathon in Hastings that year stands out as one of her finest achievements. Nadia recalls feeling “Absolutely Ecstatic” at the end. She couldn’t stand up and ached for days, but that discomfort just reminded her of the achievement and she was buzzing for at least 48 hours afterwards.

Now on a roll, Nadia needed a new challenge. Beachy Head Marathon was top of her list. She did most of the training on her own but husband Ian would often join her or cycle alongside. Unfortunately, just a few weeks out from the race Nadia picked up a knee injury. The sensible decision would have been to rest, but Nadia wasn’t having any of it. It was a real struggle but she completed the race.

One moment sticks in her memory. Approaching the finish coming down the steep hill from Beachy Head, a lady who had been behind her for quite a while, suddenly came past. “I’m not having that” thought Nadia and from nowhere she produced a strong finish over the last 200 metres to get back in front. Despite the knee injury and not being able to run as quickly as she liked, Nadia still felt very happy at completing 26.2 miles.

There were repercussions. It was several weeks before Nadia could even walk properly and up to 8 weeks before she was back running. 2018 was a tough year as injuries took their toll. Brighton Marathon had been a target but that just wasn’t possible.

12 months on she was back on the South Coast and this time despite limited training she was able to complete her 2nd Marathon in 5 hours and 41 minutes.

Looking back at her journey in the past few years, Nadia now feels like a completely different person. She’s 6 and a half stone lighter than the day she walked into her GP’s surgery and was given the bad news. Her self esteem is much higher which has allowed her to approach people with confidence and this has made a big difference to her performance at work.

She is no longer diabetic and also her asthma which gave her lots of problems beforehand is significantly better.

Her husband Ian has even taken up running and they often head out together on a Sunday morning to clock up anywhere from 10 – 15 miles.

Nadia’s goals now are to get her 10K time back under 1 hour. She’s started doing Boot Camps twice a week and has noticed the shape of her body changing with more muscle than before.

I’m lucky enough to have known Nadia for several years and she’s been an inspiration for me. Taking on challenges that many of us would have shied away from whilst changing her future for the better. So if you feel like life has you backed into the corner and your taking blow after blow, don’t throw in the towel but fight back, you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Just don’t get in the ring with Nadia whatever you do.

Be Like Nadia

#BeARunnur

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