A lot of people ask me – what prompted a self confessed non-runner to suddenly take up running in her mid thirties? After leaving school twenty years previously and vowing NEVER to run again, what happened to change my mind??
I was working for a large gym chain in the UK at the time as a management accountant, and had access to the onsite gym for free. I loved the Les Mills classes – body combat, step, body pump, and I would use the cardio equipment in the gym for hours, so I considered myself to be reasonably fit. Yet when a collegue of mine asked me if I would train with her for the local Race For Life which was a female only 5k race raising money for cancer research my initial reaction was “no way I am not a runner!”.
She persisted and evenually wore me down (she must have got me at a particularly vulnerable time, possibly alcohol involved!) So now I had 3 months to train for a 5k race and no idea how or what to do!
I love structure and the idea of having a plan to follow appealed, so I downloaded the beginners program from the race website which laid out exactly what I needed to do over the next 12 weeks to be able to build up from running nothing to running 5k. Perfect 🙂 Now I knew what to do I just had to do it!!
I started off using the treadmill in the gym because I was far too self concious to go outside and have everyone “look at me” (as if anyone would be interested!) The plan started off with a run walk strategy – simply run one minute walk one minute – rinse and repeat for 30 minutes total. OK nothing too overwhelming, I can do this!
Over the next couple of weeks the runs increased and the walks decreased – at one point I remember looking ahead to the next week and wishing I hadn’t because the run section suddenly jumped up from 3 minutes to 5 minutes and I couldn’t get my head around running consistently for that long! So I learnt not to skip ahead, and just to focus on the session that I was doing now.
A couple of weeks in my friend suddenly decides she no longer wants to run the race. Say WHAT? Of course by now I am starting to quite enjoy the structure of the training, and the challenge of pushing myself further each time. I was disappointed to lose my partner in crime but no way was I giving up now – I had a goal to run 5k in 30 minutes and I was going to do it with or without her!
With the bit firmly between my teeth I managed to enlist one of my best friends to train with me and we started doing one of our sessions outside on the course which ran along Bournemouth seafront every Sunday evening.
Once I actually started running outside everything changed for me – training on the treadmill I was just going through the motions, doing what had to be done to enable me to reach my goal. But running outside I actually started to ENJOY myself (who would have thought!) -, the sound of the waves, the cool evening breeze, suddenly it didn’t matter to me if others saw me, I was caught up in my own little world.
I remember the day of the race I was so excited! I had bought myself a new outfit for the run and I thought I looked pretty good! My friend and I had said we would run together but once we started my competitive edge took over and she was struggling to keep up so she told me to go ahead. I had hoped to run the whole 5k but I remember at one point getting a stitch and I think I probably walked a little bit to get rid of it.
Crossing the finish line, I felt absolutely elated!!! So much so that it didn’t even occur to me to check the clock to see how long it had taken me. Wearing a stopwatch to time myself hadn’t even occured to me. So I still to this day have no idea if I managed to finish in 30 minutes (I suspect it was a couple of minutes over).
But that didn’t matter. I had finished!! I had finished what I set out to do and the sense of achievement for me was overwhelming – I think the effort may have even made my eyes water a bit 😉
I still to this day get goosebumps when I think back to that first race and how it made me feel to finish. That’s why I get so much satisfaction from helping other “non-runners” train for their first 5k – and beyond! Because I have been there, I know how it feels to have no confidence in your abilities, and I also know how it feels when you finally prove to yourself that you can do it 🙂
NEVER say never ❤