About Runner & the Muffin

The Runner                        

I (Gary) am the 'runner' of Runner & the Muffin. I've completed three marathons (PR 3:41:35), a number of half marathons (PR 1:41:09), dozens of 10ks and 4 mile races, and more marathon and half marathon training runs than I'd like to count or remember! 

But it wasn't always like this. Let me take you back to 2011. Weighing in at a record 250 lbs, I was at my all-time heaviest – yet a lot of people didn't tell me this, because they were too fecking nice to say! Looking back, I was huge. Here's the proof.

 At my heaviest in 2010

At my heaviest in 2010

After countless false dawns and promises that I was going to change diets and try the latest craze in fitness at any given time, I finally made the changes necessary in January 2011, several months after some of my clothes drifted from an XL to XXL, which embarrassed me at the time. After signing up for a healthy eating program and discussing things with a gym instructor. For the first few weeks, we tried everything, but stumbled across running as a way to shift the weight – who would have thought it?

One day, I ran 3km without stopping and suddenly thought I was an Olympian. Eventually, it built up to 5km and then 7km – which was like a marathon at the time to me. In May of that year, I signed up for my first ever 10km and fell over the line, exhausted in just under an hour. I thought that was the greatest thing I'd ever accomplish fitness wise at the time. But I kept going. A couple of races later that summer and I had lost about 40 lbs.

Things would take a further shift as the following year, I moved to NYC, along with the lovely Muffin. Our introduction to American life saw me put the weight back on – especially as McDonald's meal deals are cheaper than salads and pizzas are ridiculously good. Once again, it reached a point where I said, enough was enough and decided to lace up the sneakers and get back to running, taking to the streets of Astoria. And then, I found a little-known (sic) organization known as New York Road Runners. The rest is history.

In 2012, on a cold, wet miserable day on March 30, I completed the 15km in 1:17:50. Again, I felt like an Olympian, thinking “15km. That's the furthest I'll ever run”

But two months later, against all the odds, my name was pulled out of the TCS New York City Marathon lottery and suddenly that 15km wasn't looking too impressive. Fast forward to now and I've done NYC twice, Philadelphia Marathon, and countless other races. If NYRR stages it, chances are I've ran it. Now at 180 lbs, I run about 30 miles a week, but this increases up to 50 miles, depending on what I'm training for.

In this blog, you will see me try to give some 'knowledgeable' insight into my training plans, my best practices for the average Joe on race days, race recaps, and also say what gear works for me, and what doesn't. It varies for everyone, as we all know. It's a blog for beginner's to everyday and serious runners by someone who is still a beginner in some ways and someone who is always aspiring to be a more serious runner. Now, if only I could cut out chocolate from my everyday diet, perhaps I would be an Olympian. But it tastes too fecking good.

Gary! (The Runner)

The muffin                       

I’m Frances, aka the Muffin of Runner and the Muffin. Although I am the wife of the Runner, running is probably the last thing you will see me doing.

But, as anyone who has lived with a runner will know, it sneaks in and becomes a big part of your life. Especially if that person is a somewhat committed long distance runner like my husband Gary.

Together we have created a lifestyle that benefits both our goals. When he is in a routine that revolves around training for a big race, it helps me create my own schedule so that we can get the most of our time together and apart. For instance, when he is off on one of his long runs that I cannot get my head around, I use this time to get lots of things done that I want – and like – to do.

Day in day out, I am asked: “Why don’t you run with your husband?’” “Would you ever run a marathon?” “Why are you not training with Gary?”

The answer is simple: I don’t like to run. I will never say never to running. But as of now you will not see me signing up for any races.

Before we got married I wanted to lose weight and I did try to make running a part of my life, but it was just not happening. Gary was coming back from runs, telling me how it was great, what he thought about, and his goals and targets. However, I was the complete opposite. So after about a year of trying hard to love it, I instead set my sights on other ways to be healthy, feel good and most of all enjoy myself when I was doing it. I have realized I prefer to do weight-based, short burst work outs and by hopping on my stationary bike, but more than anything, I feel good by balancing what I eat.

Over the years, my weight has fluctuated from 150 lbs to 230 lbs at various stages. You name a diet, chances are I’ve tried it at some point. I don’t think I could name a diet I wasn’t miserable on, which I can now look back on and say it was for lack of balance in what I was eating. One of the big issues was when I moved to New York in February 2012 and my weight ballooned, as I put on 30 lbs in 10 months. This was my first time not living with my parents and my first full-time job, so takeaways, unhealthy food, and quick carbohydrate loaded fixes were my staples. 

 Left: 2015, right: 2010

Left: 2015, right: 2010

But, when Gary and I booked our wedding, I knew it was time to take action. The problem was finding some way to balance our healthy eating and weight loss with our love of chocolate, beer and pizza (a terrible trio). Because we had the wedding as a goal, we stuck to eating Paleo for 5 to 6 days a week and had a cheat day of eating our favorite foods at the weekend. But once the wedding was over, there was no real goal and the weight crept back on.

But by my first wedding anniversary I was 20 lbs heavier.

This heavier weight coupled with the fact I was living with a runner who was always hungry made me begin a journey to find a healthy balanced lifestyle for both of us. One to make me reach a healthier weight and one to fuel – and fill – Gary, while still leaving room for our chocolate, beer and pizza addiction! Right now, we have found the best thing for this is by mostly following a Slimming World eating plan.

I can only encourage anyone wanting to achieve a similar lifestyle goal to find what eating plan works for you. Try everything! Whether it is with a slimming club, or just alterations in your diet to help to get where you want to be.

My goal in this blog is give an insight into how I achieve my goals, balance life living with a runner, and also maybe inspire you to get where you want to be.

Frances! (The Muffin)