18th January 2016

Run Happy, Smile Hard – Rambling Duck & Endurance Runner, Janine Lewis

Janine Lewis no 1PinkRun Happy, Smile Hard – Rambling Duck & Endurance runner Janine Lewis

I am thrilled to welcome Janine Lewis to the HH50 community! I met Janine on Twitter and her warm, enthusiastic & funny tweets lit up my timeline. I wanted to know more about the woman who calls herself Waddling Diva and asked her to share her story with us. In between training for her own T184 challenge and leading her Zeros to Heroes running group, she kindly took time for us! Hello Janine…

Which sport do you enjoy?

I call myself a runner, preferring the longer distances off road.

Have you always been sporty or is this new to you?

This is a new sport for me and sometimes I admonish myself for saying I am a runner as I am so slow. I started running when I was about 45 having lost weight and done a few “walking” charity marathons. I am by nature lazy but have loved long distance hiking, swimming and kayaking. The latter I did competitively as a youngster until I left school. Then I pursued them as a hobby to have weekend breaks with friends

If you were sporty when you were younger & then stopped, why did you stop?

I still swim but I stopped kayaking after a near drowning and then I became a Mum. In fact, I stopped all sports during the early years of being a Mum as I just didn’t have time for me. I must also add I hated running. I have always been a large person and as I got larger it would have been a dreadful sight, so I thought, to see a massive bulk waddling slowly like an elephant plodding through treacle. But the more folks said I shouldn’t run or couldn’t run, up went the “Really??” ears and my journey to run started.

Healthy Happy 50 Jo Moseley Janine Lewis What motivated you to start again?

I started long distance walking when I peaked at 18 stone and was ashamed of holiday photos of myself on a beach. I was 39 years old and did not want to be fat and forty.

I pledged to lose 7 stone and get fit so that I could chase the kids around the park. On my 40th birthday I weighed 11 ½ stone and could comfortably swim a mile and hike for about 20 miles in one day with the dogs.

It has been a roller coaster ride ever since as I signed up for the Moon Walk for Breast Cancer (which I have now done 4 times) and got the bug to get fitter and faster!

During my early 40s the weight started to creep up despite the exercise and probably because I was on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This spurred me on to run, thinking it would shrug the weight off. I have always needed the public accountability of participating in a charity event, using social media and blogging as way to document my training and champion the charity I was supporting. I also became a social media personae as “The Rambling Duck” who inspired many people to take up fitness and healthier eating.

I showed how easy any one could train and lose weight if they really wanted to. There are no boundaries to what one can achieve, only our lack of imagination. If I could start running at 45, initially just 5kms (and a lot of Race for Life events) and move on to ultras (5 marathons in five days) in a couple years, then the sky is the limit!

Janine Lewis no 4

So what is Rambling Duck? How does it help motivate you?

Rambling Duck is how I dress for all my challenges. I am an attention seeking diva for my charities and the bright yellow outfit certainly draws attention. I would do 24 hour solo endurance runs in it which takes some mental aptitude I can tell you! In thick mud, heavy downpours, strong gales and even red hot summer days, that ducksuit has survived everything! Even a 24 hour treadmill run.

2015 has not been a kind year and I have not been able to run. I now have a clean bill of health and am starting from scratch to run ultras again. All of my challenges this year have been deferred to next year. It has been a very hard thing to do to find the enthusiasm let alone get the body moving out there in trainers. By bringing the ducksuit out of retirement and adding in a few new challenges and a new charity, that is personal to me, my soul is on fire to pick up where I left off – which was running about 52 miles in one weekend at Easter 2015! Ok, it’s more like running 5km in 48 minutes at the moment!

Do you train alone or with others?

I was initially training by myself but I do belong to a running club. I probably didn’t really bond with anyone person to encourage running partners. This time though I do need that support by my side, mentally and physically. I have my running club, The Reading Joggers, and my wonderful Slimming World Ladies, I have nicknamed them my Zero-to-Heroes.

Can you tell us about the Zero-to-Heroes running club you have set up?

My weight piled on again through lack of running and loving the cakes and wine too much. So I am a born again endurance runner who has joined Slimming World for the much needed support to lose 3 ½ stone! I asked the ladies of my group if anyone wanted to benefit from my training with a couch to 5km style programme. Eight ladies took up the gauntlet. These are ladies are either at the start of their weight loss or near the end. They were very apprehensive about running. There are so many myths and bad publicity of how much it will damage joints and ego as one bounces and wobbles around the streets. I promised them that I would provide a programme that would take them through techniques and running form so that they learn to run safely and without injury.

In 12 weeks three of them were through to 10km and 5 are sticking to improving their 5km. All signed up for the 5km Santa run. One of the ladies has lost an incredible 9 stone. She also arrived at my first session stating she hates running, has got bad knees and can’t run! She beat my 5km and 10km time! This awesome lady is also in her 50s!!!

How often do you train?

I am inspired by Zero-to-Heroes and partner up with them for my training. We run together three times a week. I also do a long run/walk on the treadmill once a week as this is very good mental training as well as building my leg miles for the ultimate challenge I am doing next August. I don’t get a chance to run with my club as the times are out of synch with my work schedule but I know that when I need to push the big miles there are a few who will happily join me. I do love running with others.

I should say that I just predominantly run. I do daily stretching and a few kettlebelll exercises via YouTube. I am not a fan of the gym and really only think I should run or walk for training. I do not see the point of cross training if my goal is to run 184 miles in August.

Janine Lewis no

What have you learned from running?

The running has taught me a new discipline – listen to your body and write everything down. I may have a training schedule but if I am tired, I just sit on the sofa and watch TV. If lethargy is around for a couple of days I review previous training – did I over do it? Am I eating the right food for energy? I may be losing weight through Slimming World but if I need something off plan then I will enjoy it without guilt, such as avocado. Unless its wine or chocolate of course! I still have to watch the junk food and processed food.

Because I am losing weight and getting fitter my blood pressure is improving. I am on medication for hypertension and have been since I was 40. I just can’t shrug it off and my genes predispose me to a whole bag of heart disease and circulation issues. This impacts on my recovery time, my hormones and actual running. But if I listen to my body and write everything in a diary, I learn about me and can map and plan what will happen around training schedules and challenges.

How has running enhanced your life?

I feel more in control of my life and hope that makes me a relaxed fun mother, wife and friend. I feel my strength is in sharing my story and helping others, such as my Zero-to-Heroes ladies.

I want to make a difference to others and this is part of my drive and “why” I need to run. I benefit by allowing others to be my reason for running.

I run in a ducksuit so I would not call myself vain or conceited. But I am not a shy retiring sort either. My confidence has improved as I was always wanting and seeking affirmation that I had done something right or well (a parenting incidence robbed me of any self worth). If I don’t put in the training and right foods then I can’t complete a challenge. That speaks volume! If I succeed in crossing a finish line smiling and elated then I don’t need to seek that affirmation. I know I have done well. Of course, it is always wonderful for people to say “well done”, especially my from my peers and those I adore, but I don’t fish for compliments anymore.

What are your next challenges?

I am doing a few challenges in 2016 and one of them is a whopping 184 miles. That event is called T184; running along the Thames from the barriers to the source in under 80 hours and unsupported. That’s 7 marathons in 3 days. There are timed check points with cut off times.

For me, the worst two are in the first 53 miles – I have an 8 and 10 hour cut off. So I am effectively running 2 marathons with a 12kg rucksack in under 18 hours. I run slowly and this will be challenge. If I manage that I can relax for the easier cut off times for the remainder of the challenge.

Training for this is relatively easy as I just need to get in leg and feet miles with the weighted rucksack. I should be marathon fit by the end of April ready for the London Marathon so I will add in the rucksack after that. I don’t want to sustain an injury before then as the London Marathon is an iconic race I have entered into the draw for so and failed 5 times.

Janine Lewis no 5

Can you explain the logistics of T184? (7 marathons in 3 days!)

I am doing it after nearly a year off so  will need to do a lot swotting for the T184. It’s a strategy based on clever refuelling with food that is palatable and protein/carb dense, with minimal weight and space! I will be using foods that heat up in lime pouches that you add water to and a lot of protein bars. The 12kg weight is the anticipated weight for my food and kit that I will have to carry as it is unsupported. Most events have bag drops so you can run with a little water and food! I will also be power-napping so I have a bivi bag and sleeping bag. It may be in August but temperatures can plummet.

Additionally, the body goes in to a sort of shock when you stop for a breather. Mine goes stone cold and circulation goes weird. I will also need to recci the route a few times especially the end section which is mostly over marshland. Knowing my lap, I will be doing that at night in the dark. London will be tricky to navigate through because of the crowds. I need to make sure I cross the river at the right sections so that I am on the bank with right of way all the way through.

Most people entering this event are already endurance eventers with a few years under their belt. I am doing it after nearly off with medical issues and having to start from scratch with fitness and strength. I do love a meaty challenge!

How are you training for T184?

To help me with the focus of T184 I have some other challenges in the lead up. It’s a mixed bag of ramping up the mileage but also training the body to run in the night. I am also doing these challenges for charity. Having a few eyebrow raising ones! They will help me reach my fundraising figure of £1,500.

What about mental training for such a huge endurance event?

Most of training is part the energetic part, the running and strengthening the body. However, I do a great deal of mental training too. I have mentioned the treadmill training. I also run around 3 mile loops in my local woods or housing estate. The neighbourhood are used to my lap-training and quite often join me either to run, or bring me a cuppa. Lap training is dull. Round and round the same section. But I just amuse myself with cloud picturing, singing to myself, listening to an audio book. It’s a great time to just clear the head and literally just go into meditation mode. This is probably the most deep in thought and relaxed I get, even if I am running. The thoughts, blog ideas, world changing statements, that come to mind at this point are life changing!


Healthy Happy 50 Jo Moseley Janine Lewis What obstacles do you have fitting training and your challenges into your busy working and family life? How do you overcome them?

I am a working Mother and wife. My running is only possible by having a family who allow me the time to get out and abscond from chores. There are dogs to be walked too, so it’s not just a case of throwing the bedding in the machine and run! My son is in the sixth form and has a part time job. My daughter works full time from home and looks after her horse. My husband has arthritic knees so he struggles to walk the dogs twice a day, and fit in his work plus household chores.

I have to involve everyone’s diary so that I can fit in not only my training and job, but their commitments. They allow me a degree of selfishness as they love the benefits of my running and challenges – I am a happy and calm person! They are also my brooms that sweep me out of the door when the weather is rubbish, or I am moaning I haven’t had a lie-in. They mutter about what they are giving up for me, and that I should not skimp on the training, not even for Mother Nature.

Do you track your running and what do you use?

I track my running and walking using a Fitbit and a Garmin, plus the app Endomondo. These are gadgets that can both motivate and put me a black mood. I sometimes let numbers rule me! At Slimming World we count syns, as oppose to calories. These syns are naughty units of food that we should curb. The gadgets track my miles and sometimes I think I don’t want to run 5km in 15 minutes as dictated by the schedule. I just want to run 10km slow in the wind! It’s important to track and make sure you are improving and putting in the mileage to avoid disasters and being broken.

But, it is also important to remember to ditch the gadgets and just run for the love of it. Or eat, for the love it, not the guilt factor! Just don’t make a habit of it!!

Who inspires you?

I am often asked whom am I inspired by? Perhaps a personality or celebrity? To be honest there is an amazing community of Twitter who share their own stories and others. I have read blogs of fathers who carry take part in triathlons and carry their disabled child throughout; women in their 50s who decided to move up a gear and do an Ironman having only ever waddled for a bus. These are people who through adversity and their own blood, sweat and tears become super heroes making a difference to the lives others, not just their own.

Do you have a life motto or mantra?

I have a mantra that gets me through training and challenges; “run happy, smile hard”. I wear it on my t-shirt. It is a reminder that I am making a sport I once scoffed and hated, to be my Hero’s Cape.

Do you listen to music when you run and what is your favourite?

Music is very important to me but I try to not run with it all the time. Batteries die very quickly if you are doing a long event and it is also a distraction from what is going on around you. I also love to sing along to tracks so this can be embarrassing if I am not aware of who is around me! Belting out Il Divo’s “ L’Amore” and Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” or grinding along to Scorpion’s “Zoo” may be entertaining though and a lot of folks usually join me and join in!

Janine Lewis No 7What is your favourite piece of kit?

My favourite piece of kit has to be my ducksuit. I do have an array of coloured running tights but seeing my yellow suit waiting for me really reminds me of what I am doing and the happy colour makes me smile. I think others smile when they see it! Although it may be an embarrassed grimace! My family playfully tease and cajole me but they are aware of how hard it is to run in normal clothes let alone fancy dress. I may be 50 but I can assure that this ducksuit brings out the inner child and I will run through the deepest thickest muddy puddle. It is also a great ice breaker especially as I am often running in events that are mostly attracting the fit, lithesome young things! My ducksuit disarms the scowls and looks of disdain.

What are the best things about running?

I think what running has given me:

I have inspired and motivated many over the last five years with the challenges I have accomplished and done for a variety of charities. I lead from the front by being an example of the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, plus doing something for a charity and cause that is special to your heart.

What have been your greatest achievements?

I have long a list of challenges and each year I make them tougher. 2016 will be my toughest with merely any recovery time between events.

Janine Lewis no 8(Pic of Janine & the ‘Rocks’ from RAF Odiham on the 5 marathons in 5 days Forces March) 

You have supported many charities through your challenges. Can you tell us about the charity you are currently supporting with your T184 and why?

I make sure a charity benefits from my endeavours. For 2016 I am supporting Blood Pressure UK. I have high blood pressure and will always be on medication. I can help myself with a sensible diet and exercise but my condition is like a ticking time bomb as hypertension is a silent killer.

I am the first of my family to avoid any heart conditions, thrombosis or strokes from the age of 40. Fingers crossed that it stays like that!

Many people are very blasé about their blood pressure and have no idea what it is. It is very wise to make an appointment with a doctor or local chemist who can do this pain free and hassle free simple reading. Spare five minutes that could be your life saver.

What advice would you give someone reading this interview?

Embrace the fun living happy person you are!

Healthy Happy 50 Jo Moseley Janine Lewis How can we follow your amazing challenges and support your fundraising?

My fundraising page is: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JanineLewis

I also share my adventures, thoughts and training as http://thewaddlingdiva.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: @janineLewis_

You can keep up to date and subscribe to the blogs. Why not share your story with me if you have beaten the odds to take up a sport that you thought impossible and now you love.

Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story with us Janine – I am sure we will all follow your challenge and look forward to hearing more about the T184. Good luck from all your HH50 friends!

Jo xx

Has Janine’s story inspired you? Would you like to share your running story with us? Please let us know in the Comments or chat to us on Twitter & Instagram: @HealthyHappy50


Janine Lewis no 6

{All photos courtesy of Janine Lewis}

2 responses to “Run Happy, Smile Hard – Rambling Duck & Endurance Runner, Janine Lewis”

  1. Graham Smith says:

    What an inspirational lady. I have known Janine for many years and have followed her many challenges.
    I am 50 this year and Janine inspires me to do more. Time to dust off those trainers! 🙂

    • JoMoseley says:

      Thank you Graham! Janine really has an amazing story & I love the way she helps others start to love running too! I hope you enjoy your own adventures! Dust off those trainers! Jo

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