I used to run on treadmills. It took time to build up my stamina from scratch but over time I got much better. I’d find a spot on the wall and focus on that and try not to look at the time on the screen. After a while that became unavoidable so I would then place my towel over the screen. Eventually running on a treadmill became really boring. At university I began to run outside. I didn’t know a lot of people there and I lived right next to a field. I was able to run along the grassland hills and enjoy the countryside and only ever encountered dog walkers. When I moved back home I stopped running. Why would I want to run in my small, crappy London suburban town? Nobody runs around here, I’m not skinny, people would stare at me?
Work wanted a team to take part in ‘Race for Life’ so I signed up. I hadn’t run for a while so I thought it would be a good way to get fit. I only ran outdoors a few times leading up to the race and didn’t train enough. I completed the run, on the most humid day of the year with bouts of walking, in around 42 minutes, which is quite slow. However I was proud of my achievement and vowed to carry on. The run spurred on a new exercise craze for me. I was now going to be a ‘runner’.
A year later I have completed to two 10k runs, one of which was this month. It was almost a year to the day that I had half ran/walked the 5k. This time I completed my 10k at a steady pace without stopping, measured through my beloved ‘mapmyrun’ app. I am very proud of that as it was a hot day, I was very dehydrated and the course was hillier than expected. It was slower than I would have liked but as I say I kept a steady pace throughout and finished in 1 hour and 19 minutes. I’m now looking for a run in the autumn to beat that time.
I never thought I’d be a ‘runner’ but I really enjoy it. Even if most of the time I’m running around my shabby suburban town, my local park or a route with more of a view such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that I took part in recently.
Being a ‘runner’ is a type of community. You meet other runners of different abilities and specialities and you can talk all day about pace, distance, and the latest gadget/app, how your training is going. It’s actually endless and also annoys everyone around you. There are communities online with forums, training tips, dietary tips, again endless.
What I love most though is that everyone can run! The insecurity I had about running outdoors went away after a few runs when I realised I really didn’t care. So what if I look stupid? I’m only seen for a few fleeting seconds by others. In the winter I wear layers and bright fluorescents in the summer I wear whatever will keep me cool, including vests, deal with it. Every shape and size can run and when I talk to runners they’re not surprised that I run. It’s the unfit people I surprise, as I probably put them to shame. I’ve been the same size running throughout, far far far from skinny. I’ve put my chunky legs to good use and honed their power on the roads. This is also evident in charity runs. On Sunday it was a sea of people of different ages, shapes, sizes, abilities, you name it, there was just about everybody taking part.
So training continues for the next run!