My life in running

23 Feb

When I was very young and at school it was the 80s and sport for girls was not seen as being particularly important.  Or at least, sport for all girls regardless of ability.  So unless you were naturally excellent at netball or hockey or anything that featured wearing a ridiculously small pleated skirt or thighs that could withstand minus 10 temperatures on a muddy field the PE teachers as they were then known didn’t want to know.

Needless to say, I didn’t excel at sport at school and so I shunned it.  I did what the teachers wanted me to do to make up the numbers but I hated most of it.  I think the issue was that there was no consultation with us, the pupils.  We had no idea what was out there to choose from in the world of sport and so we just did what was on the curriculum.  Maybe it was a money issue.  I don’t know.

In my 20s, living in London, I was just a booze monster. A ladette if you like.  I didn’t do any exercise after leaving school at 15 until I was about to hit 30.  The weird thing was that as soon as I got into a gym and did a kickboxing class I realised I actually loved exercise and was immediately addicted.  I then CHOSE to do running, first of all in the sanitised world of the treadmill, then eventually in the great outdoors.  The day I completed a 20 minute run around Victoria Park – my first run in the real world rather than in the safety of an air conditioned gym – was a seminal moment for me.  I was hooked on real running as I thought of it.  I had got that bug that all the blogs and preachy articles talk about.

So I started my life in running.  It has became my life.  It is what I do.  I read books and did lots of research on the science of running because I was intrigued as to how it worked and why it worked and why it was so addictive.  Slow Burn by Stu Littleman became my bible.  If you want to make some sense of why you do it, read his books.  It made sense to me.  I’m not a speedy runner.  I like to think I’m built for endurance rather than speed. Although I have dabbled in improving my 5K personal best times and practising “fartlek” training and thoroughly enjoy going hell-for-leather down a dirt track sometimes!

I ran my first organised race in 2005, a 10K, in Lloyd Park in Croydon. Well, you have to start somewhere.  Being an all or nothing kind of woman I then decided to go for the big one.  The Marathon.  London no less.  It was a real adventure all in itself.  An adventure in extreme discipline and exhaustion.  I trained for 7 months, because I like to be prepared.  I ran in extremes of temperature – driving rain, sleet, a heatwave, freezing but beautiful mornings along the Cuckoo Trail.  At 7.30 on a Sunday morning I pretty much have the world to myself.

The Marathon is a killer and should not be underestimated.  That much I discovered.  Despite my gruelling training schedule I managed to complete the distance in 5 hours 45 minutes.  I wanted to do it an hour faster, so I have unfinished business where that distance is concerned.  I’m not quite sure when I’ll have it in me to go through it all again.

That was 7 years ago.  Since then I’ve continued to run.  Of course I have.  I’m hooked.  I’ve done a few more 10Ks.  Once dressed as Wonder Woman.  I also do the Hove Park Run (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/brighton/) on Saturday mornings, usually in the summer.  I still get out early on a Sunday, not with any particular goal in mind.  I just crave the solitude and the personal sense of achievement, however small.  It’s not a weight thing although I do appreciate the health benefits and the discipline.  And I quite like the kit; all that Lycra and fluro nylon, and the sight of a pair of muddy trainers sitting on my doormat makes me glow a little inside.  It says to me, I did that, and I have the medals to prove it.  Try it for yourself, you might like it.

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