I am now a believer that anyone can run. Seriously. If I encourage one person to take up running, then I will be a happy bunny. If someone had told me all those years ago that I would be a keen runner then I would have laughed in their face! But now I can, and I love it! And so can you! And here is how it all started…
I was always one of those kids who dreaded PE. I never minded getting active, and as a family we did lots of walking, swimming and cycling. But I was not good at throwing, catching or anything, so I dreaded all the team sports and was not very sporty at all!
Back in 2007 a colleague asked me to join her when she did the Race for Life. I had never heard of it, but I gave it a go, and we walked the whole way. During the race I was so inspired to all people of all ages, shapes and abilities running the 5K distance, and secretly decided that the following year I would run the race.
As the race got nearer, I found a training plan (look here) and diligently followed it to the letter! The last week of the plan was 15 min run, 1 min walk, 15 min run, so I had not run non-stop for more than 15 minutes at a time. But I wanted to run it all for myself, so even when I was waiting in a queue to cross a narrow bridge, I kept jogging!
I managed the race in 35 minutes, which for me was an amazing achievement, as I did not view myself as a runner.
I thought that I would stop running after that, but I had begun to enjoy it, so I continued running 3 miles, a few times a week, and even kept it up during the winter. Then I was looking in the back of Runners World, and saw that there was a local 10k in the spring. “Could I do that?” I thought to myself? I was so nervous even entering it that I kept it a secret from most people, but I gradually increased my weekend run until I could run 6 miles. The race day came, it was tipping it down with rain, Andy came along to support me, and I was sooo nervous. It was such a different experience than the race for life- there were men, first of all, including men in incredibly serious racing gear, there were running club people, and everyone looked so professional! But I ran the whole way- it took me 70 minutes (it is mostly uphill), and the running bug had well and truly bitten me!
I then ran several 10k’s but soon the longer races began calling to me. Could I run a half marathon? I saw a local one in March, and signed up. By then my long run was 7 or 8 miles, so I had decided that I could make the step up. I found the longer runs (11-12 miles) so draining, and it took me a while to find kit to wear in the winter that kept me warm, but not sweaty, during those winter long runs.
I did the half marathon with Andy and my brother, and I was so proud of myself when I finished. I had found the training really hard, and there were some long steep hills (it was the Berkhamsted one for anyone that knows that race)- my time of 2.32.44 was around my estimated time, and I was so proud of myself again for running all the way and finishing it. I was so proud of that medal!
Then I was persuaded to join the St Albans half, which takes place in June. So the long runs continued at the weekend, only this time my problem was how to stay cool and hydrated during the heat.
It was a hot day, but not baking, which was a relief. I had to stop a few times at water stations as my bottle had run out and I can’t drink from a cup while running, but I finished in 2.19, so I had managed to knock 13 mins off my previous time! Woo hoo!
I even completed a full marathon in 2011 (Stockholm) and another in 2015 (Brighton).
So the girl who started with a one minute run and a one minute walk is now officially a runner!
At the start of 2012 I was unwell, and needed an operation, and so from December 2011 to May 2012 I didn’t do any exercise except for gentle walking (running was banned until I had the all-clear following the op). I was back to square one (walk one min, run one min) but I found that the fitness came back to me quite quickly, although speed did not!
I joined the local Sweatshop running group (which is free, and fab), which has helped me to speed up (chasing after the faster people), and later on joined a local running club (OH ladies).
I also started going to my local parkrun (also a free, 5K run each week) when I can, and my Dad and brother do this so it is lovely to have an activity to do with my family.
I really do think that anyone can run! If you do, start out slowly- a jog not a sprint. You can always speed up later. But seriously- it has done wonders for my self esteem. I know that if I put my mind to something, I can do it. The feeling of crossing the finish line is really elating, and I have always found that recreational runners like me are as welcomed as club runners at races.
Please remember that this is my own personal experience- I am not a medical professional so seek advice if you are thinking of starting a new fitness regime.
And who doesn’t want a medal?
I try to keep my Race Calender page updated with race reports and times.