Last July I decided to start running. I was inspired by the site of women running in the morning as I drove to work. They always seemed the epitome of grace and power to me. However I never saw myself as a runner. I was the girl who hid in the toilets at school when it was breaktime and who would prefer extra homework to having to run around a football pitch. This seems to have been a matter of personality rather than genetics because my brother was actually quite an accomplished runner – which was a bit of a mystery to the PE teacher.
However I’d always been a walker but as I am getting older I wanted to use my exercise time more effectively.
So I decided to take up running. I think in my head I saw myself as a Claire Underwood, sylph like and gracious. Effortlessly gliding over pavements. Having a beautifully crafted playlist. Long legs stretching.
Not even breathing too heavily…A
Yes….hm, the reality is more like this picture below …No one would ever describe me as sylph like – although in my defence – my ancestors didn’t survive the Famine on a fast metabolism – such as the lovely Claire seems to have…
I started by choosing one of my usual walking routes and just picking a landmark (less than 100 metres) up the road and running to that. I then walked the rest of the way.
The next day I chose another point a few metres further on and did the same. I ran to it. Stopped and walked home.
There were days when I didn’t run at all. There were days when I ran a bit further than I thought. However what I did really like about it was how good I felt for the rest of the day..as I focussed on running first thing in the morning. Now I was one of those morning runners….
I chose a 5 K race in April and booked myself in for that. My goals were …lowly.
- Aim number 1: Don’t die.
- Aim number 2: Run all of it.
- Aim number 3: Finish it (I promised myself that even if it was dark when I finished – I’d finish it)
Much to my own astonishment I finished it in 38:50, I didn’t die. I did run all of it. (Had temporary moments of smugness as I overtook runners – only to be quashed when they recommenced running and promptly overtook me). And I wasn’t even last…..
So I ran another one last month (May) and did it in about 36:50…I’ve now decided to step up a gear and I have booked myself in for an 8k (Streets of Galway – 8th August). Still keeping my ambitions modest. Don’t die (although I am feeling quite optimistic about that one). Run it all. Finish it.
So what lessons have I learned from this?
- Take one small step and stop. I refused to think about running a 5K at the beginning. I chose something small and doable and built on that.
- Unexpected benefits. It has a wider impact than I expected. For example, I found myself running for a bus and not requiring oxygen when I got on and climbing to the top of a set of stairs without being too much out of breath.
- Know yourself. At the beginning I didn’t tell anyone (other than my husband and son) I was doing this. Everyone would have an opinion – but I’d still be the person who would have to put on my shoes and run. I know the conventional wisdom is to get running partners/create accountability – but to be honest, that wouldn’t work for me..so knowing myself was a key part of this. This was something I learned from taking Gretchin Rubin’s quiz on the Four Tendencies. I’ve discovered that I’m an Upholder….
- Admiration doesn’t have to lead to Aspiration: There are the beautiful runners up at the front – the running thoroughbreds, lean, tanned and fast. I admire them but I have no aspirations to be one. My ambition is to do “better than before” (to use the name of Gretchin Rubin’s very useful book on habits)
Would love to hear if you have started anything unexpected/new and what you learned from it…