Meet Carin, a 36-year old athlete, wife and mom from Melbourne, Australia. Her guilty pleasure, running. Strapping on her Garmin Forerunner 10 with P!nk screaming in her ear is what gets her going and is her favourite way to spend alone time.
She’s been living the athletic life for 5 years now and it’s been quite a journey. In addition to raising a family, training, and helping other women unleash their inner athlete through her participation in the RMA (Running Mums of Australia), running group, she also needs to manage her invisible disability, Ehlers Danlos syndrome. EDS is a genetic, connective tissue disorder that has 5 different types, with hers falling into the classic variety with a fault in the collegen gene. What this means is she has extremely stretchy fragile skin and joints that like to dislocate.
In our interview, Carin talks about how her EDS body has never felt better since becoming an athlete. As low muscle tone is also side effect, her athletic regime has significantly helped her body become stronger, with less pain, and be a positive role model to her kids. Showing them that no matter what life throws at you, you’ve got this.
1. Your athletic adventures began with your children. Tell us about how you got started and what you learned through that initial experience?
My sons and I are diagnosed with a condition called Ehlers Danlos syndrome. Pregnancy and their births were mentally and physically stressful on my body. Following their births and toddler years there were many hospital trips. Following this, I had a lot of stress built up. Through my sons doctor, I heard about a charity fun run at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. I became pretty determined to compete in this event. One small problem… I had never run in my life! Ha. Well I don’t think anyone is ever more determined than a mother, with a child who has it a little rough at times. With training, I completed the RCH run for the kids. My first ever event and I was hooked. Not only did I feel like I was making a difference for my kids but I felt mentally and physically strong. Running became my therapy for, 100% of the time.
2. What has been the greatest benefit from embracing the athletic lifestyle?
The greatest gift has been seeing my body in a positive way, for the first time in my life. I have potential and I’m striving for Personal Bests and challenges. My sons see me as a runner and together as a family we run, ride and swim. It’s natural now. My son completed his first fun run with me last year, we smashed it together. Six years ago I would have been on the side line.
3. What changes have you experienced since getting into running? Whether it’s performance (e.g. run faster etc.), mind shift in body acceptance, change in nutrition etc.
Previously my relationship with food was very emotional. I would I eat when I was happy and when I was sad. Now I think about what foods will help fuel my long distance runs and activities, so my relationship with food has completely changed. I’m learning to hold my shoulders back and walk with strength and a lot more pride. On a performance level, I’ve taken 15 minutes off my first 5km run and 16minutes off my Half Marathon time.
5. Do you have a personal motto that is your go to, when things get tough?
In the beginning it was hard not to compare times and paces but I’ve learnt I’m only competing against my self. It’s liberating to believe and work on that. My motto:
My race, my pace.
And I’m stronger than I was yesterday.
6. How do you keep it interesting and stay motivated to achieve new Personal Bests and challenges?
I stay motivated by booking in fun runs, varying levels of distances from 5kms to half marathons. This year I felt I needed a bigger challenge so I competed in my first triathlon. I loved it and can’t wait to train for another. I think it’s motivating to go back and look over your progress and remember why you started. Having 2 extremely active boys keeps me motivated to keep fit! Plus I want to be seen as fit and determined through their eyes.
7. What advice would you give to other plus size athletes who are just starting out?
You need to repeatedly tell yourself that you are worth it. Because you are! Choose a goal and make a plan. Surround yourself with like minded people and just go for it. What have you got to lose? So so much to gain. Trust me, I would still be hysterically laughing if someone 6 years ago had told me I would be a half marathoner or a triathlete.
Do it for yourself. You are worth it.
Thank you so much Carin, for sharing your story, inspiring others and your infectious positive energy .
Feeling inspired to share your story? Email me now.