5 things I’ve gained from running so far (I started about 6 months ago)
1- It’s a really good way to channel my general day-to-day anger. I get annoyed by commuting and continually let down by trains and worn out by the crowds I constantly fight working in central London and while I’m not walking around seething, I do need something to work it all out on. Running has turned out to be useful for this. Pavements are good punching bags.
2- I spend more time outside, which makes me want to spend even more time outside. Being a slave to a computer all day means I don’t go outside enough and I really do love the outdoors. I spend a lot of time outside at weekends but during the week, running has given me a reason to go back out after getting home that doesn’t just involve chores like food shopping or emergency wine buying.
3- A new thing to set targets against. I like challenges. I like to surprise people. I like to do well at things and feel like I’ve fully taken them on. I started out really terrible at running, as I’m sure most people do, but training for something has made me want to do it more.
4- It’s a free hobby. I’ve needed ways to spend time for free since I started saving for a house and this has been a good one. It’s also turned into a good weekend hobby that actually puts me off getting hangovers.
5- I feel and look fitter. Looks shouldn’t matter, you might say, but I feel better for it.
I never thought I would be able to run. For a long time that was largely down to the fact that it just always looked so hard. How do people run so far without stopping? How can they be bothered? How do they not collapse with a stitch? How are they even breathing and living after 5k? I used to have many questions like these and despite the fact that I wanted to run and be like the people I saw on Sunday mornings in trendy lycra outfits ending their run in a swanky cafe and drinking a matcha something double shot whatever, I just couldn’t muster enough motivation. I also did not have any nice lycra.
I was also advised by various physios and doctors to just not bother running in case it made my join problems worse, which was an easy and good excuse to add to the list along with ‘looks like you get hot, don’t like that.’
So yeah, running, as much as the idea of it and sticking ‘runner’ in my Twitter bio appealed, was put on the back burner.
Then Christmas happened and then it flew past and suddenly January slapped me in the face with a nice little sack of misery. I felt unfit, I wasn’t happy with my body shape anymore, I had no gym membership since moving and I was feeling increasingly lethargic and indifferent to, well, everything. So one day I just went running. I think I must have played some sort of trick on my mind to get myself changed and plan a route because one moment it was a fleeting idea and the next minute I was halfway round the block, panting and realising the true extent of the cold.
It did not go well the first time. I couldn’t run for more than a minute and I tripped over some uneven paving. The second and third times also weren’t amazing, but eventually, perseverance and a bit of self-bullying saw improvements. I started to be able to run and I suddenly wanted to get better at it more than anything else. I didn’t have much of a plan or any idea of what to do next on the ‘training’ front, so an email asking if I wanted to the Vitality London 10k came along at the ideal time. I signed up, googled ‘help me I am running my first 10k’ and bought some new headphones.
Apart from one pulled hamstring which was immensely painful for a couple of days ad led to me buying a foam roller which my dog tried to eat, the 10k training was really good. If you’re on the lookout for a 10k I really recommend doing this one next year, even if just for the beautiful central London route. I also recommend that if you’ve ever been tempted to join the running rates, even if you can’t run for a bus right now, give it a go. Just dive in and try it out. I didn’t ever think I’d look forward to a run, but the clear-headed and accomplished feeling I get post-run is not something I want to lose.