Inspiring striding - Annie Bee (Anne Simpson)
How long have you been running for and how did you originally get into it?
#Lockdown2020 hit and overnight, I predominantly worked from home, was unable to see loved ones and gyms alongside all outdoor events were closed! I took up running again during this season! I hadn’t run since my teens, and I was a short distance runner who hated the longer runs. I harboured a memory which haunted me for what seemed like ages! Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I took up Couch to 5k aged 43, joined a running group (Black Girls Do Run Uk) and signed up for my first ever race - London Landmarks Half Marathon. I raised over £1300 for Breast Cancer Now in memory of my late mother Hyacinth Bedeau who I lost tragically 7 years prior.
What’s your greatest running achievement?
I ran my first marathon in 2021 (4 months after starting this incredible journey) which was the virtual "London Marathon" in my area which saw me dig deep and push forward! Reflecting back – I never thought I would achieve that HUGE milestone!
Where is your favourite place to run?
Being near to water and in open green spaces! There is something magical being surrounded by water and a wealth of green scenery! This time I just sink into my run, enjoy the alone time, and absorb the nature all around me!
What are your top 3 running tips?
- JUST DO IT! (Get out of the door and run for as long as you can! Whether you are able to run five minutes or thirty minutes, making a start is the hardest part!)
- INCORPORATE STRENGTH TRAINING (include it into your schedule at least once a week and this will reduce your risk of injury and actually progress your running much faster – it should complement your running!)
- STRETCH IT OUT – stretching is a really, really important part of your running schedule. Make it part of your regular routine from the very beginning and it’ll help lengthen your muscles, improve your flexibility, and stop injuries sticking a spanner in the works.
What does your running schedule typically look like and how do you fit it into your life?
Max 5-6 days a week! I run early in the morning 3-4 times a week (best time for me to run!). One session of strength, core and yoga training per week and rhythm classes x2 per week with an amazing instructor!
What’s your favourite pre-race running food?
Banana & oat pancakes the tastiest one’s ever – I’ll share the recipe sometime!
What’s your dream race?
I would love to complete the ‘Marathon Majors’ starting with Berlin Marathon, Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon, New York City Marathon and Toyoko marathon, a dream I never knew that would exist! I’m running London in a few weeks.
How do you like to celebrate a PB?
I jump, pose, and show off my shoes, shorts, and socks!!! True Annie Bee style!
Who are your running inspirations and why?
To be honest, I am inspired and blown away by individuals that I have met within the running community – Deo Kato, Sabrina Pace-Humphreys, and Tasha Thompson who have wanted to increase diversity in running (trail and road) actively bringing a community of runners/ non-runners together through the groups Black Girls Do Run Uk and Black Trail Runners.
In 1955, Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, led to a boycott of the city’s public transportation system. 381 days later, Montgomery’s buses were desegregated. Deo Kato used that historic number as the framework for Running for Justice, which he describes as “active activism.” He set a goal of running at least 10k per day for 381 days to raise awareness and campaign against racism. He achieved that last year but kept going, and is still running for justice, peace, and equality – 3 years on!.
Sabrina is the Co-founder of Black Trail Runners and author of the Black Sheep, A Story of Rural Racism, Identity and Hope; she also recently finished the Spine Race Summer Challenge, 268 miles race of the Pennie Way. She has shared that “…all I wanted as a little girl, teenager and adult was to look at the cover or a magazine or the inside pages and see someone who looked like me, someone who experienced what I did. I wanted to be seen. To really feel 'If she can, maybe I can too.” She is so inspirational!
A regular runner herself for over 20 years, Tasha was very aware that there were very few black women running at the events she was taking part in and a particularly bad experience when her participation was questioned by a marshal led her to think she could do something about it! With encouragement from friends and family, knowledge of a similar movement in the USA Black Girls Do Run Uk was born!
Just watching normal people doing extraordinary things is empowering and has impacted my life immensely to raise the vibrations and make a difference within my own community!
We understand you are part of the “Black Girls Do Run Uk” community, tell us a bit about that?
When I took to the streets once again 27 and a bit years later, I was looking on Instagram for a community of women who were like minded individuals to myself. I wanted to be part of a community of people as I started this journey towards ‘moving more’ and experiencing joy, fulfilment, and the benefits of taking part in a new sport. As identified in my BBC interview (a year ago), Black women are not as active as their white counterparts, placing them at increased risk of developing certain health problems.
I wanted to be part of Black Girls Do Run Uk as they demonstrated how hard they were working to change this. Established in 2019 by Tasha Thompson, this amazing body of women are breaking down barriers, increasing visibility and inspiring black women across the UK to get active. Through this AMAZING running club, they have created a safe and inclusive space for women like me to not only enjoy exercise but to illustrate that sport and exercise is for all!
This body of women (led by an amazing circle of women) are smashing stereotypes and giving black women the confidence to believe in themselves and to experience the joy that sport and physical activity brings. My running journey has taken off with an incredible body of women supporting, nurturing, and winning me. It’s truly about how we can come together no matter who we are, to make sure EVERYBODY crosses that finish line! I love my BGDRUK running family!
What’s your favourite happy stride pattern and why?
Love my Happystride patterns. But my favourite is the "zigazagah" as I'm a pattern person and it is striking with the dynamic colour choices. My next pattern of choice is either “hectic geometric” or “fancy pants”.
If you could design the next pair of happystride shorts, what pattern would you choose and why?
Definitely bees – I love bees!
Wow, thank you so much Annie for joining us and answering our questions! Stay tuned for our next 'inspiring striding' blog in our series where we will have another inspiring guest!