My running journey began almost 3 years ago. I had just moved into a new home and started a new job. It was a time for fresh starts after a fairly unhappy 18 month period in my life. One of the perks of my new job was access to a gym, with a running machine. I was overweight and unfit but here were the tools to change all that and in the same building I worked in.
Friends had waxed lyrical about the Couch to 5k programme, so I looked it up and off I went.
It was hard work. Really, really hard work. The clock on the treadmill always seemed to drag, I would frequently come out of the gym drenched in sweat and I was making life even tougher on myself by wearing a dreadful pair of trainers. My knees are straight out of the bargain basement anyway, courtesy of a couple of heavy falls in my younger days. Crap trainers and having to shift my 16/17 stone bulk about was not helping. Better yet, I didn’t have a sports bra! The first run I did after getting good trainers and hoisting the ladies into proper foundation garments was a revelation. I’m amazed I kept at it as long as I did and I can only credit my stubborn streak for that.
Eventually I began to find the treadmill limiting. By February 2011 I had entered the Baker Hughes 10k and I knew I needed to take my trainers outside. This is where I hit a new stumbling block. I was trying to push it as hard on the tarmac as I had been on the treadmill and I couldn’t do it. Thankfully, I was able to buddy up with someone who could keep a steady pace and keep me in line. This was a real breakthrough for me and I have barely been near a treadmill since. I ran my first race on Sunday 22nd May 2011 in just over 65 minutes.
Since then there have been 3 more 10k races and a 5k Santa Dash. Over that period I have spent something in the order of £300 on trainers (the Asics Gel Cumulus series, fact fans). In less than 4 weeks there will be the Inverness Half-marathon. I am training harder for this race than I ever have before, actually following a proper training plan. I’ve run in snow, rain, skidded about on slush and ice and almost fell flat on my face last week. On Sunday I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do less than go for a run. I forced myself, in a very bad humour, and got some of the best times I’ve had. So why do I put myself through it?
Partly it’s that stubborn streak of mine. I haven’t done all this hard work up to now to waste it and go back to being a lardarse. Partly it’s competitiveness. I am very competitive, in my own wee way. I get jealous of anyone who does a better time than me, regardless of their ability, training or experience. I also want to beat myself, do better than I did in the last race. I am my own harshest critic and I don’t really feel like I’ve done myself justice in any race since my first 10k. I know I can cover the distance, I know my legs will carry me, so why get stressed? Part of the reason for picking a new race was the extra challenge – can I run 13 and a bit miles? I am in new territory now, with training runs of 7 and 8.5 miles under my belt. Running further and longer than before and I’m coping. I’m actually doing it! The ego boost you get from that is addictive.
Also….don’t think I’m weird….but I actually kinda enjoy it. Not every time. A face first dash into the snow along North Deeside Road the other weekend was not, in itself, enjoyable. The sense of satisfaction at the end was. When I’m getting disheartened and spending too much time focusing on how others are doing, I remind myself of how far I’ve come. How much stronger my body has become. These days I’m still breathing through my backside at the end of a run, but the return to normality is dramatically quicker.
So there you go. That’s why I do it. Well, all that, and also to raise money for a flipping good cause – www.justgiving.com/runpaddyrun
And how are you?