If you’d told me fifteen years ago that I would one day take up running as a hobby, I would probably have burst into tears and kicked you in the shin, horrified at the fact that you would even dare suggest such an abomination.
If you’d told me even two years ago, I would have given you a “that’s adorable” smile and then proceeded to tell you exactly why not in a rational, adult manner with rational, adult arguments.
Six months ago, I would have made some whingeing noise in the back of my throat and shifted from foot to foot, repeating a few of those same arguments (the ones that sounded so solid before, except they weren’t) while trying not to look you in the eye.
And then two and a half months ago, I did it.
After months of listening to friends talk about how amazing running made them feel, and how most of them used to hate it too, I gave in to this niggling desire in the back of my mind to see what it was all about. After all, wouldn’t it be great if I managed to change my mind about something I had loathed with a proper passion as a child? So I went and bought some running shoes and gear, spending enough money that I knew I would feel guilty if I didn’t give it a decent shot, and took off on my first 3.2k run that very afternoon.
It was hard. I had the basic instructions of the Couch to 5k programme in the back of my mind, although I didn’t plan on following it exactly to the letter (I was already doing Zumba once a week, so I didn’t think my level of fitness quite equalled “couch”). The first hill (probably more of a light gradual incline, in retrospect) seemed to stretch forever and I had to stop and walk several times before I even reached the top. I would run for a couple of minutes and then walk, puffing my way along the pavement, self-conscious of my slightly-too-tight running gear and the beetroot shade of my face. If I came across some normal person going about their day, my mind would instantly snap: “yes I know I look ridiculous! No I’m not having a heart attack, or at least I think I’m not… am I? Help?”
All through running (and walking) that first loop, I kept thinking: “how can people do marathons?”, “how can they even run 5k?”, “how could I ever run 5 bloody k??” but as I started back down the hill towards home, something inside me shifted. I’d bought the clothes. I’d bought the shoes. Hell, I’d even bought special running socks with ‘L’ and ‘R’ written on them (I reasoned that they would make my poor feet feel very special and loved – pff). My husband was due back from Scotland the next day and I would have to explain the massive purchase on our bank statement. But, more importantly, a part of me detached itself from its sweaty, wobbly vessel and said “hey, I don’t mind this, actually”. So before I could let my feet carry me home, I turned left down a side-street and did the whole loop again.
No I didn’t manage to run up that hill without stopping on my second try, nor did I manage the next time I went running, or the time after that. Eventually, I learned from my newbie mistakes and slowed down for a while (almost to walking pace), and only then I was able to run right to the top and punch the air and be ridiculously happy (and sweaty, still… some things don’t go away).
A couple of weeks after my first run, by which time my lovely supportive hubby had started to let me drag him out of bed on Saturday mornings for an empty-stomach run before breakfast, I ran for several minutes while thinking of totally different things and then suddenly realised “hey, I’m running and I’m on such a little cloud I didn’t even notice what I was doing for a moment there”. I knew I had it then. I’d caught the running bug.
So what next? I set myself some goals that were probably conservative for most, but challenging enough for me. Four weeks after I started running, I upped my twice-weekly runs to 4k, and then a few weeks later, did 5k on one of those Saturday morning stints. But I knew that to feel like I’d really hit the 5k mark, I needed to do a race. It would somehow make it official in my mind that I had got there, and that I could do more if I wanted.
So yesterday I did the Colour Run in Echternach (I will post a photo when I can get my hands on a half-decent one). I voluntarily braved the July heat to run 5k and get myself covered in powdered paint, just for the hell of it. It was a good race to choose, in retrospect, precisely because it wasn’t a race. There were no winners (only several hundred multicoloured smurf-like creatures trickling over the finish line, pointing and laughing at each other and generally having a great time) and running wasn’t even a requirement. I could have chose to walk it. But I ran it instead.
And despite the heat, the paint up my nose and the amount of painful scrubbing it took to get it all out afterwards, it was SO worth it. I am not going to stop running.I’m going to keep on setting myself goals and pushing myself bit by bit, and generally just enjoy the feeling of mindlessness that comes with a good run.
After all, I’m still feeling very smug that I can run much farther (and without ending completely out of breath) than I could at ten years old, and that I managed to get over myself and my inhibitions enough to learn to love it.
I really hope you can too 🙂
Future Running Goals:
May 2015: 10k relay race at IMG Luxembourg Night Marathon
2016 (or sooner): Half-marathon (21k)