Until I started my job in the ‘big city’ I never really thought about my fitness levels particularly, but once I started working in London I realised that everyone in my department not only ran regularly but did triathlons. I definitely did not do triathlons, I couldn’t even do an athlon, let alone a triathlon. I started to feel a little inadequate, I also thought it might not hurt to try and lose some weight.
The price of gyms in London is ridiculous (some are £120 a month!) so I decided to try free exercise – running. Now I am not a runner, I was the one walking at the back and looking for shortcuts during cross-country at school in PE, I hated it. But I decided to give it a try now I’m an adult, to see if I really was right in my hatred.
But how to start? I turned to google which suggested that the Couch To 5k (C25k) programme would be a good place to start. There are various programme out there which profess to do the same thing but I thought I’d try the NHS programme. It’s free to download the podcasts and is a nine week programme aimed at getting you up to running 30 minutes at a time. The run by run plan can be found here. So Laura (the voice of the Couch To 5k plan) became my run buddy three times a week.
I must admit to a false start as only a week after starting it then rained solidly for what felt like weeks, so I abandoned the plan and returned to it a few months later when I managed to work my way through to about week 6 when I decided to go it on my own. I found that the plan was really good but when I started on the longer runs of 25 minutes plus, I craved my own music. So I started creating my own playlists and used the Endomondo app to keep track of my distances and times.
Last November (at the end of my plan) I ran my first 5k race with the Big Fun Run. They hold races across the country. It’s an untimed race but for me the importance was finishing the race without walking, it really didn’t matter to me how fast I was.
I made it and got my first ever medal. Just running with other people was an interesting experience as I’ve always run alone with only my music for company.
The minute I finished I wondered what the next challenge would be. 10k perhaps?
Well, it turns out that a better opportunity presented itself in the form of the National Lottery Anniversary Run which was held to celebrate the anniversary of the Olympic Games and would be the first chance that people got to go back to the Olympic Park before it opened for the Anniversary Games. They had done a similar run before the Olympic Games started in 2012 so that the public would be the first into the Park. Unfortunately that was a balloted entry and I wasn’t successful. This time, it was first come first served. I signed up immediately.
I loved the Olympic Games (I took two weeks off work to spend in front of the TV and to go to a number of events). So getting to run in the Park and finish the run on the Olympic track in the Stadium was a dream come true. I got training for the 5 mile run (about 8k).
Although it doesn’t look like it from the pictures, it was absolutely boiling that day as Britain was in the middle of a heatwave. So unfortunately my plan to run the whole thing didn’t quite come off. But getting to finish on the Olympic track was phenomenal. We entered through the tunnels under the Stadium (passing the training tracks on the way), Chariots of Fire was playing and entering into the noise of the Stadium was enough to give me goosepimples. I can only imagine what it was like for the London 2012 athletes when the Stadium was packed to capacity.
The running dropped off over the winter but this year I vowed to complete a 10k. I picked the British Heart Foundation Hyde Park Run as my first. I support the British Heart Foundation anyway so to do so whilst completing my first 10k was idea. Although I hadn’t actually run 10k before the race, on race day it’s always different and running slow and steady with other people spurred me on to go further than I have before.
This year I want to keep up the running over the winter and next year either think about a 10 mile race or a half marathon. I still hate running, but I love achieving a little more every year. Achieving things that are difficult for me and which don’t come naturally but which I still manage to do eventually, with a lot of work.