This morning I ran for 20 minutes. I wasn’t late for a train, or being chased by a hungry lion. I just ran for the sake of running.
If this sounds a little over-dramatic I apologise, plenty of people run day in, day out. No big deal. For me though this is huge, and I really hope someone might get where I’m coming from and be tempted to give it a go.
Frighteningly asthmatic as a child, physical activity (like playing out with friends) would usually be accompanied by caveats of “don’t go too far”, “don’t overdo it” and “have you got your inhaler?” To be fair to my parents, this was by no means unreasonable: I didn’t fancy being hospitalised by an asthma attack again either.
Sport clearly wasn’t my thing. No matter, there were books, music, a plentiful supply of paper and pencils in every colour known to man.
Fast forward about 20 years:
The deep mental scars of nasty red nylon P.E. skirts displaying my lily-white legs whilst dragging myself through the centre of town during a cold, drizzly cross-country lesson had started to fade. (I will concede that all P.E. teachers may not be on a vindictive, spirit-crushing mission, but ours certainly were!) I tentatively started to think I might give running a go. I hadn’t done any proper exercise in over a year, so I really needed to start doing something. It wouldn’t take a lot of kit, just trainers, and I could fit it in to suit me, rather than having to make a class. Jess, my hairdresser, had lost a lot of weight starting to run: she looked amazing, seemed full of energy again, and had found a new job which she was absolutely loving (coincidence?). The tipping point came from a combination of Couch to 5K seeming to be everywhere (well, if Carol Kirkwood can do it…) and seeing a particularly pretty pair of Sweaty Betty trainers.
Three things I learned about buying trainers:
1. Not all trainers are designed for running!
Apparently some are designed for use in the gym or something else entirely and aren’t suitable if you just want to run in them. Who knew?
2. You need to know about pronation.
Are you an under or over-pronator? All this means is do your feet tend towards rolling in or out? (There’s a useful guide here if you’d like to find out more.)
3. It appears to be illegal to sell trainers sporting less than three colours.
I wanted something inconspicuous in an attempt to avoid looking all the gear and no idea. This, alongside not breaking the bank, being suitable for running and fitting my feet was clearly one criteria too many. Needless to say, I’ve embraced wearing something akin to pick and mix on my feet. (They are soo comfy though!)
So, I had the trainers, I’d downloaded the app, I had no more excuses.
June 23rd 2016 will be memorable for many reasons: as well as political upheaval, it was the day of my first run. Week 1 of the programme consisted of one minute bursts of running interspersed with 90 second recovery walks. Not so taxing… I think went off a little bit quick and didn’t make it to the end! Lesson learned, I’ve taken the programme at my own steady pace; eight weeks later, I’ve only just completed week five, but after a twenty minute run I feel amazing! And the best thing of all is not that I'm becoming more toned, that I have more energy, or that my hormones feel much more under control. It’s that I’ve achieved something today that a few weeks ago I barely believed possible. Who knows what else I might be capable of!
If you fancy giving Couch to 5K a go to, I'd love to hear how you get on. You can download the app I've been using here.