I start this with an apology to all of those people who are completely bored with people going on about running, who yawn and groan every time somebody posts their run or their time on whatever social media. But we all have to have our thing, and as life enhancing things go, I’m afraid I cannot do anything but evangelise. At least it’s not puppies or lost dogs!
Because the message that I really want to get out there to all of those people who I have met over the years who have said to me ‘oh, I could never run’, is yes, you can!! I too was one of those people, and now I wouldn’t want to be without a pair of trainers in my life. And I am no spring chicken! At almost 48, I’d expected to be shuffling around in slippers, not Nikes, but that is the beauty of running. Anyone can!
Trust me, it’s not like I come from a sporty background. I have a highly talented, sporty and athletic sister who likes to affectionately call me ‘un-co’ because I am so un-co-ordinated. I love her too believe me – and above all I am immensely proud of her. My sporting achievements at school were zero, literally. I was a regular in the consolation race, and I always came last in that – still do in the mum’s race on sports day. And I literally NEVER got picked for the school team. It’s not great for one’s confidence I have to say.
Listen, the truth is I only took up running because I met some bloke at a party. He dragged me out to Regents Park on a Nike organised park run and the rest is history. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t love it straight away, but I was kind of keen on him and he was very encouraging! So, that was the start of it – me trying to bag a bloke at a party! Surprise surprise!
As it turned out he was a lovely fella who totally changed my life. He married someone else, of course, but what he did do was continually tell me ‘yes, you can’ as I plodded my way round Clapham Common. He held my hand all the way around my first ever 10K – the infamous Nike 10k in Richmond Park back in 2003. And I literally loved every second of it. It hurt a bit but the atmosphere and euphoria of achieving something you never ever thought you could achieve was amazing..life changing..confidence giving…dream building!
Then over a gin or 10 with a work colleague, I took on the ultimate dare – to enter the London Marathon ballot! And wouldn’t you know it, she who wins nothing, got a golden ticket – bingo, full house, woohoo! I was gobsmacked and terrified. But I looked at the training plan – got my head around it – decided to take one step at a time. Before I knew it I was running distances I could never have dreamed of. I’d ditched the tube in favour of running home! Bridget Jones on my iPod – I was literally in a movie!
I have said it often, and I will say it again, having just relived it with my husband, but the London Marathon was the best day of my life. The ultimate in achieving that which you never ever dreamed in a million years you could achieve, one that you’ve watched on the telly year after year thinking, I could never do that. And then it’s you, rounding the Cutty Sark, drinking in the crowds on Tower Bridge, enduring the Isle of Dogs, dragging your screaming body up the Mall and over the line. And it truly is awesome.
But I will never do that again. These days I get enough of a buzz out of running shorter distances, with good friends. And this weekend I had the ultimate pleasure of doing both at the inaugural 10k in my home village. Run Wisborough was another highlight of my life. The run itself was awful, in searing temperatures, with no time to acclimatise. ‘Just get round’ replaced any other thoughts very quickly. But to run in your home village, a village of immense warmth and beauty, was a real thrill. Especially with my beloved running chums – the Buns on the Run, with my beautiful family cheering me on. Even Duncan (the dog), locked in the house, which was on the route – I could hear him barking as I ran past!
So to all of you thinking, I could never do that, I have to say ‘yes, you can’ because it is literally all about one step at a time. It doesn’t have to hurt – it doesn’t have to be hard, and it can give you so much! Here are my Top 5 Tips to giving it a go!
- When I say it doesn’t have to hurt – it doesn’t! When you get out of breath – walk – nobody wants a burning chest, and you will naturally make progress without getting one. Most 0-5K training plans start with a running and walking pattern which builds up your fitness and distance gradually and genuinely doesn’t hurt!
- Pick a goal, whether it’s a particular race or event or a distance you want to achieve, and download an app or a plan to follow. But don’t think you have to stick to a plan rigidly. You don’t. Just do what you can do. You will be totally amazed at the speed of the progress you make I promise you!
- Get some good gear – good shoes really! Ones that you can love, preferably from a running shop that can advise you – and good socks even better (my Balega Hidden Comfort seldom leave my feet, even when I’m not running!!) Happy feet make happy runners! And who doesn’t love to shop.
- Run with friends! Yes, that is a new one on me. I only started doing that last June. I always ran alone, me and my iPod. I was terrified people would be going too fast for me, or would want to talk when I had no breath, or would be better than me. But let me tell you, they are not. And it’s a wonderfully social thing to do.
- Don’t panic. There will be days when you feel dreadful. When you do think – I can’t do this. And then the next day you will feel on top of the world. There are many reasons for this. But one thing is for sure, this too will pass.
Here end-eth my sermon! I thank-eth you for reading it! x