NICOLA Firth was hoping to get back in shape at a boot camp in 2012 when she suffered an accident.

The 36-year-old had had no indication she had a bladder problem and was shocked.

Nicola, a pre-school worker from Basildon, said: “I had a really embarrassing incident while attending my first ever boot camp.

“I was happily cracking on with the warm up when I realised that I no longer had control over my bladder.

“I had to confess what happened to a rather embarrassed young personal trainer and went home and sobbed my heart out to my husband.

“He encouraged me to see the doctor who referred me for surgery straight away.”

Nicola was told she had urinary stress incontinence – a common problem which affects millions of people worldwide.

Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence.

It means you leak urine when you increase the pressure on the bladder, as in coughing, sneezing or exercise.

It happens when the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder are weakened.

Doctors told Nicola she wouldn’t be able to do any high impact exercise and that surgery was her only option to be able to live a normal life and be able take part in exercise.

But she refused the treatment.

Instead she looked into alternative cures.

Nicola said: “After looking into it, I found that a course of physiotherapy and losing some weight could help my situation so I cancelled my operation.

“After losing a stone alongside attending regular physio appointments and bladder training, I had great improvements and was soon able to take up running.

“I chose running for a few reasons. It is convenient, it’s free and your workout begins as soon as you step out of the door.

“While in my school years, I always avoided PE class because I felt so useless at sport, but now I feel empowered to prove to myself that I can run.

“I was also inspired by my friend who started running from being a non runner to running a marathon.”

Despite the doctor’s prognosis, Nicola’s treatment worked.

She is now looking forward to taking part in the Women’s Running 10k Race Series when it returns to London’s Finsbury Park on Saturday September 27.

Nicola started running as a beginner in June this year and now runs 15k a week.

She hopes by speaking out about her problem she will encourage others to seek help.

She said: “When I first started running I kept reading about women who run commando and I felt a bit ashamed that I could not try it because of my concerns.

“However, talking to others who have similar problems I now realise that I’m not alone and I would like other women to know that too.

“I would also like to encourage women not to just put up with the problem but to seek medical advice.

“For me managing my condition is about keeping to a healthy weight and building my core muscles. I find running is the best and most enjoyable way to do that. I know that one day I probably will have the operation, but for now running is helping me.”