Barriers to fitness: “I shopped in the men’s department…”
“I took up running two years ago because I used to get really bad lower back pain, it got so bad that I couldn’t sit down for more than an hour at a time without being in severe discomfort. I went to my doctor about it and he told me it was because I was tall and I should try doing more exercise…”
By Eshe Brown
“I thought he was just palming me off with an excuse. After spending hundreds of pounds with a chiropractor, it was only when I started running and doing Pilates and yoga on my lunch breaks every week that it eased. The first time I went running I had no idea how important it was to have the right kit. I didn’t wear a sports bra or proper running shoes (just an old pair of Nike Air Maxes) and my chest and knees ached for days afterwards because of the impact from running on the concrete road.
When I went out to buy the correct running gear I couldn’t find anywhere on the high street that sold women’s leggings long enough for me. I’m 5’11” with a 36 inch leg length but the average length is 30-32 inches. Then there were my running shoes. If you have size 9 feet like I do, your choices are really limited.
I had to shop in the men’s department until I discovered Long Tall Sally! And thank god I did because running is now so much more comfortable. All their activewear is specifically designed for women that are 5’8″ and over. The designers don’t just tack on extra fabric to your legs and arms, everything is proportioned for the taller frame, which makes it more comfortable to exercise in and means no more ankle swingers or short sleeves in winter! They also sell women’s trainers that go from size 7 right up to size 13.
I’d really like to see more brands offer sportswear in different leg and arm lengths and the same goes for shoes too. We aren’t all 5’4” with a size 5 shoe. There’s clearly a movement happening against one ideal shape and size woman, so more choice is needed.
Being sat at a desk all day I miss being outside in the fresh air. I also find it helps quieten my busy mind. After a run, I feel this amazing sense of calm and I also feel hugely energised. It’s also free, so I don’t have to worry about expensive gym membership. I’m a food blogger in my spare time so I eat out a lot and as I’m getting older I’m only too aware that it’s easy to put on weight gradually and not notice. Running is my way of ensuring I can still enjoy a healthy appetite but not have to worry about dieting too much.
I live in Brighton and I can run 5k in half an hour – I want to get fit enough to do it in 25 minutes. I run with my boyfriend and his best time is 24 minutes, so I also want to beat his time – not that I’m competitive at all! To those hoping to get fit, I say just start by doing something. When I’ve not run for a while I dread it because I know it’s going to be hard, so I always ease myself into it with a short run, 2k or 3k for example. That way it’s not so bad that I don’t want to get up and do it again a day or two later. If you do a team sport it can also be more fun and it’s a great way to meet new people.
This year Long Tall Sally have created a free exercise programme that’s exclusively for tall women and targets and strengthens the four hotspots where we tend to have problems. So, lower back pain, shoulder tightness, knee pain and tight hamstrings. They are my go-to for all things tall!”