Sub Heading – My relationship with running. That was the real title, but lets face it, that wouldn’t have grabbed your attention half as easily.
Running is something I have never ever enjoyed, at one stage of my life I used to say ‘nothing in life is worth running for, there will be another train or bus, the only reason to run is if someone is chasing you with a weapon‘.
Then I engaged the services of a Personal Trainer, he was set the mammoth challenge of addressing my diet, improving my health, and raising my fitness. But I knew that I would be on safe ground as he hated running.
So, imagine my surprise a few months in when he recommended running, I thought he had taken leave of his senses. Prior to this I had tried the couch to 5k app and just found it quite irritating as I coped badly with the walk/run/walk/run way that it worked.
But the benefits he explained to me made sense to me and fit in with several of my goals, so I gave it a try. Those benefits were to address the stubborn belly fat, increase my stamina and to give me a time where my mind could relax, be empty and focus solely on running and my surroundings.
Luckily, I lived near an industrial estate that led to the riverside, this combined with my insomnia meant that I could run early, in places where people wouldn’t see me. There is one thing to get out of the way early here, I am not, in any way at all, a natural runner. I am gangly, my arms and legs go in any direction, I forget how to breathe, I sweat (a lot) and I am completely and utterly uncoordinated. Before I started running, I had no idea that it was possible to be quite so uncoordinated.
So one Sunday morning around 7am I set off, I walked to the industrial estate and once out of view I started to run. My instructions were clear. Run for 20 mins, then stop. Walk home from wherever you are but no more than 20 mins. When given the instruction I thought how hard can that be, 20 mins is nothing.
Actually 20 mins of moving at a faster than normal speed, concentrating on trying to have some level of control over your limbs and breathing, with your legs on fire and feeling like dead weight is a very long time. At the end of that 20 mins I was a huffing, heavy breathing, sweaty mess a mile from home and with legs of concrete. That’s a success yeah?
Fairly safe to say that I hadn’t enjoyed the experience. But, at the time I was very stressed at work, I had really enjoyed the time where my mind had emptied and I had focussed solely on running and that point in time. No thought of deadlines, outstanding pieces of work, meetings etc.
The following week I went out and did more. Over the course of a few weeks I continued to do the runs, varying between time and distance (I am competitive with myself and so need to manage this by changing things up). A goal I had set in my mind was to be able to run a 5km run comfortably.
Stupidly when it looked achievable, I signed up for a place in a charity 5km Santa run. Madness. Though it turns out not at all madness, that Santa run was the fastest 5km I have ever run.
Anyway I digress. Overtime I fell out of love with running but found myself missing it. Not the actual running, I still hate running. The fact I am not good at it and am not massively improving annoys me and the competitive part of me. But I miss the feeling I get after I run.
This comes in two parts, firstly the elation at finishing a run, completing the challenge. Secondly the feeling an hour or so later, the ache in my legs, the effort in standing, moving, climbing stairs! An odd thing to enjoy, but mentally I celebrate the fact that I have done something that I can feel the effects of.
That is what drives me to run, the feeling after outweighs the horridness when I do run. But another thing also challenges me and drives me to run. That is outstanding goals, of which I have two set, and one primal.
When I was starting to enjoy running I set myself three goals, one was to run a 5km event (which I achieved with the Santa Run and multiple Parkruns (even though these freaked me out, social running isn’t my thing as I am WAY too introverted for that), to run a 10km, and to run a half marathon. This morning I ran 4.5 miles (7.2km) which is the furthest I have run for years. That’s a long way off both of my goals, but I am working toward them.
The more primal goal is that I am so very competitive with myself. When I ran the Santa run, I ran my 5km averaging 8 min 25 a mile. When I started running again a year or so later, I was averaging about 9min 30 a mile. My pace marker currently is 10min 30 and I am doing about 10min 10/10 min 5 a mile.
Of course, I want to improve. But I am not stupid, I am a lot older now and so 8min 30 will take a lot of work. The goal I am looking for is to get back to 9min 30 and then see what happens.
My love/hate with relationship with running continues and will for a long time. Recently I have even started to sign up for challenges on the app I use to track my runs. This brings more issues (I may blog on it in the future) as it ranks me out of all of the people in that challenge.
Do you run?
Do you like it?
Is your relationship with it similar to mine?