I discovered running fairly late. I was one of those girls who hated PE and found any excuse I possibly could to avoid it. I remember being asked to run a mile around a park near our school and laughing at such a ridiculous notion. But, what is interesting (and worrying to me now that I have a daughter) is that much of my dislike of gym was a fear of looking uncool, of getting hot and red faced, of making a fool of myself. It wasn’t about the exercise, it was about self esteem; or lack of it.
Of course, as an adult I realised that being reasonably fit goes hand in hand with being healthy. I was less self conscious! I started to go to the gym on and off, but never with any real dedication.
Then, when I was 31, a friend and I decided to run the Race for Life. So, we embarked on what would now be termed a couch to five :) We started with the run for three, walk for three, run for three etc. etc. thing and we would be red faced and puffing! But, we were pleasantly surprised to find that after a couple of weeks three minutes had become 10 then 20; and even better, we could run and chat!
It was a revelation. Not only did it make me feel good, I really enjoyed it. I found my pace, a comfortable 7min/km; which I could easily maintain; and we ran our first 5k in 35 minutes. Feeling good, I signed up to do a 10k five months later and started training for that. I focused on running further rather than faster, and soon my training runs were 7 or 8k, still at my usual pace. I was all set to run my 10k in 70 minutes (although I hoped to get slightly under on the day). Then I fell pregnant!
I ran that race when I was six weeks pregnant in 71 minutes :)
Since then I have run on and off, running the 5k Race for Life several times and running as part of a relay team in the Edinburgh marathon three years ago.
However, since I moved to the US I haven’t really run at all. In fact, I think I can count on one hand (possibly two..!) the number of times I’ve been running. I do however walk everywhere, often five or six miles a day.
But, I really wanted to start running again, so when my oldest son’s school organised a 5k to raise funds for the new playground, I signed up; figuring it might give me the incentive I needed. Then for the two weeks before the race I was sick; in a not eating, no energy, not even able to walk, kind of a way! I was determined to do it though, and was hoping that all that walking and my reasonable base level of fitness would be enough.
Thankfully, it was and not only did I manage to run, rather than walk (other than the two minute walk to stretch out the muscles in my thighs at about the 4k mark!) I ran a personal best!
Running is a fabulous way to keep fit; it’s free, it’s easy, you can do it anywhere. All you need is a decent pair of trainers and some comfortable running clothes. For me, it is time completely to myself, focused only on myself. I can’t do anything other than run. I let off steam, clear my head, think things through, come up with ideas or simply listen to music and think about nothing at all.
I also hope that by seeing their mother active; running and walking, keeping fit; that I am setting a good example to my children, especially my daughter: I don’t want her to be one of those girls that hates gym for all the wrong reasons.