You're never too old to start running
29th December 2011
Now that the leftovers have been eaten, the chocolate box is empty and the wrapping paper has been recycled, it’s time to turn my thoughts to the New Year, my hopes dreams and just plain crazy ideas about what I’d like to change in my life.
I think most people have the same resolutions, be healthier, lose a few pounds/stone, stop drinking, stop smoking, drink less coffee, call your Mum more and sort out your life. The thing is that sometimes you can set too many goals, and coupled with the short cold days and returning to work after the holidays, it can be a little too much too handle. Most people I know have lasted a couple of weeks and fallen off their chosen wagon quite spectacularly and well before the end of January.
Early in 2009 I decided I wanted to run, the actual physical exertion of dragging my bloated festive body out from under my duvet was however a little more difficult. It wasn't so much a resolution as a want to be fitter. After a great deal of thought I decided the only way I could guarantee I would make an effort (and stand a chance of keeping my one and only resolution) would be if I signed up to a race. So I signed up for the 5K in Hampstead in aid of Cancer Research the following June. A soon as the sponsorship started to build I realised what I had done and that there was definitely no choice but to start training. I downloaded a running App for my iPhone and started my training – there was no way I was going to limp my way around the course; If I was going to do it I would do it well. The app was fantastic, a training programme that built stamina over 13 weeks with an aim of completing 5K in 30 minutes. So I braved the weather, come rain or shine I went out. I bought running trainers and leggings and went through several pairs of earphones; I then became obsessed with time and distance and panicked that I wouldn’t make it around the course in my 30 minute goal. Thirty minutes for 5K is quite ambitious for a novice runner, and in the end the steep hills and long slopes of Hampstead Heath got the better on me and I came in at 34minutes – but still I’d done it! I was elated, and knackered.
I tried to keep running after the race, but life got in the way. There didn’t seem to be any time or a good enough reason – I don’t know why doing it for me was not reason enough. I have found that I don’t like running with friends all that much, I find myself comparing pace and running style, and trying to keep up. I definitely cannot talk whilst running and I enjoy the time with my own thoughts and my running playlist (with interruptions every 5 minutes from my App with statistics of pace and distance to spur me on).
I finished the year healthier than I’d started it, not as healthy as when I was doing the 5K - BUT I’d achieved something huge. For a 32 year old who previously could not run one lap of the local park without getting stitch and keeling over I had ran for 5 Kilometres, non-stop, AND raised money for a great charity.
10K is quite a long way
So 2010 arrived, I had already decided before Christmas that I would run again, and this time I signed up for a 10K race at Finsbury Park in July. I again used an App to get me there and trained with enthusiasm and vigour. My goal was to do it in an hour, a goal that I then panicked about throughout my training, certain that I wasn’t going to make it. I also reawakened an old knee injury from my dancing days and had to take a break from training that put me two weeks behind schedule. Race day came and I was petrified, but thankfully my Hubby, Parents and friends had come out in force to support me. They placed themselves around the course to cheer me on and I was so grateful for that, not least of all because I sometimes felt like walking but didn’t know whether they would be around the next corner, and so not wanting to be caught slacking I kept running.
I turned the final corner after a long hard race and saw the finishing clock just tipping into the 59 minutes and I was sure I wouldn’t make it so I put whatever I had left into the final sprint which I swear nearly killed me. I crossed the line at 1 hour and 1 second to the cheers of my friends , family and a large crowd of supporters, but I was gutted that I couldn’t just pull out that extra second to reach my goal. Exhausted I collapsed into my Mum and then continued to the floor - elated to have finished but so sad that I hadn’t made my time - until my Dad and friends ran over to tell me that I had actually done it! He was watching the start clock and knew that I crossed the start line 18 seconds into the clock. I did do it under the hour, 59 minutes and 43 seconds to be precise. I have honestly never been so proud of myself, and I don’t think I let anyone forget it at my celebration BBQ later that day!
Whe one resolution turns into four
The great thing about just having one goal on my New Year’s list was that other things that I would normally strive for (and fail at) happened purely as a by product and with little thought and effort on my part. It’s not nice running with even a slightly fuzzy head, never mind a full blown hangover. You need to eat well, a bacon sandwich before a run is not a good idea, but banana and peanut butter on toast hits the spot. I ended up craving fruit and vegetables and would reward myself with a fresh omelet after a run with eggs from our very own hens. I was getting out of bed early, toning up and I dropped a dress size. I’m no athlete and you certainly won’t see me in an endurance race at the Olympics but there is no doubt that I feel all the better for doing it.
I've had a break but I'm back to it again, I have signed up for the Bath half marathon in March 2014. So far I've torn my calf muscle and had a dreadful cold which has stopped me from training for 6 weeks, I now find myself with only three months to ready myself, but I am determined, and also very surprised at how much my body has remembered. When I started to run again I wasn't confident I could manage 5 minutes never mind five miles but here I am, running three times a week , increasing speed and distance each time and feeling great.
Set yourself a goal and get out there, its cheaper than the gym and a lot more satisfying when you achieve your goal. Everyone can be a runner with just a little effort and determination.