A single smile can hide a million tears… Sometimes, you have no idea of the struggles which people are facing as they put on a brave smile every day. Here at Trail Snails, we love to share stories of our achievements, and share stories of amazing people. Today, we’d like to meet one of our wonderful ‘Snails, Catherine Jowitt, as she shares her story of the challenges she’s faced and how the ‘Snails group has helped in more ways than just her running…

“As I am laid up with a bad back, frustrated because I am unable to run, I have been reflecting on my running journey, which stated in September 2014. Not that I realised it at the time. It was over a year before I actually started running!

I had suffered with a bad back since my late teens, I was inactive and overweight and in September 2014 suffered a prolapsed disc (although I didn’t know this for a further 3 months). For several days I couldn’t walk and was in chronic pain and struggling to function for months until the December when I was finally diagnosed. 5 weeks off sick, mostly spent laid on the floor finally put me on the path to a 12 month recovery. During this time, I realised something needed to change. I kept being told exercise and building up my core strength was the key.  I’d heard of C25K, and then heard there was an app. In January 2016 I put on some trainers, wrapped up warm, and started to do C25K round my local park in the dark so no one could see me! I didn’t think I was a runner and it seemed impossible, but I stuck with it. I gradually started to improve and even realised I was losing weight.

In April 16, just after I had started my running journey my life changed in traumatic circumstances, I finally left my abusive marriage. For nearly 19 years I’d lived behind an internal self-built wall, never telling anyone about the physical and emotional trauma I was experiencing within my marriage. Finally facing this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done both mentally and physically. I knew during those traumatic early days of rebuilding my life that I had to stay mentally well for my children, so every day I made myself go out, just walking to begin with, but then when I felt physically able, I started running. Running gave me all sorts of benefits at this traumatic time, it helped with my mental health getting out of the house, giving me clear head space and the positive feeling of being out in nature. I was challenging myself and achieving something just for me. Physically it contributed to a 2 stone weight loss, and unbelievably I realised my back was improving! For the first time my bad back was no longer dictating what I could do.

In November 2017 I challenged myself to run my first 10K and raised nearly £300 for a local Domestic Abuse charity. And then in May 2018 my journey with running changed again when I joined Trail Snails. I had always run on my own, but I was at a point in the recovery from my marriage that I wanted to start living again, so I joined the social runs and have never looked back.

I love being part of something I would never have done before, my marriage restricted my life both in what I did but also the relationships I had with others. It has taken me a long time to learn to bring the walls down and let people in. I know I am not the most sociable and chatty in the group, but I find massive comfort in just running in step with someone beside me in quiet companionship.

My story is never an easy one to tell, or to hear. It says a lot about the Trail Snails as a group of fabulous supportive people that I feel able to share my story. My message to anyone else in the situation I was in….. Reach out, there is so much support available, getting out is the hardest but best thing you will ever do, there is life to be enjoyed on the other side.”

Thank you for being brave and sharing your story with others, Catherine.

A single smile hides a million tears…

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