The one thing I have not shared much of here on the blog is my running; I guess much of that is the lack of posts that I’ve written since I started running!
I started back in 2016, it was a bit stop/start, and there is more about my initial progress on this post.
Since that post, there was a bit more stopping and starting, some injuries, learning what my body needs and doesn’t. From that point for the next 18 months, my progression was finally managing to brave Parkrun.
Looking back at that post, it’s fascinating because I was scared of being seen, being too slow, and being sweaty and red in the face.
Well, it only took one Parkrun to understand that I was not the most sweaty, the reddest, or the slowest, and no one was looking at me, and certainly not during those first Saturday mornings runs.
I picked Andover as my home Parkrun as I felt I was less likely to be seen by someone I knew, and actually, it was the best choice I could have made.
37 Parkruns later, plus volunteering 12 times, it was the thing that took my running from being an isolating, solitary affair to running with over 350 people every Saturday, and leading me to join a running club!
Yes, running with a club, I’m not going to bang on about that. Still, it has enabled me to be more confident, be able to run with people like me; it isn’t all about speed; it’s about much more. Support and friendship, having someone watch your back and keep you going, and being able to return that too.
Earlier this year I ran my first half marathon, it wasn’t the race we’d all planned to take part in, Covid-19 stopped that, but a small group from the club enabled a couple of us to complete the 13.1 miles that we’d spent months preparing for! Completed a week before lockdown, I achieved something that a year earlier, I would not have thought possible.
Since then it’s been down, and then up, initial lockdown should have created amazing running time for me. However, I managed to twist my knee while pushing a Tesco trolley, not my best moment. But, since then it has only been an upwards motion, with me completing my highest ever weekly mileage of over 26 miles a couple of weeks ago.
Lockdown has helped me to complete an eight-week running plan, concluding with a long Sunday run of 10 miles at the end of my peak week, and more importantly, help John with his running journey.
Helping John has been amazing; he completed his first ‘run’ at Parkrun last August, which was a run/walk. Last Saturday he ran 8km, his longest run so far. His progress both in knocking off time, and distance, is much better than I made in my first year! I put it all down to being able to share my experience!
So why run and continue to run? Well, I feel fitter, physically and mentally. The physical side is much easier to see and understand, I haven’t lost any more weight, and in the lead-up, to the half marathon I put it on, but I can feel it in the clothes I wear, and how I feel, especially my legs, it’s a good feeling!
The other side of running is the space it gives my mind to breathe, clear out all the silly nonsense that can often fill it, especially recently. Without running, I think it would have been a real struggle over the past four months. Being furloughed sounds like it should be excellent, paid to be at home (to point out you do only get 80%, that is not the same as 100%!), no work, yeah, it isn’t like that, certainly not for me.
The first 6 to 8 weeks, when it felt like pretty much everyone was in the same position was different, I achieved so many things around the house and garden that I’d put off for months or even years! But then as lockdown loosened, my motivation started to struggle, and my thoughts began to go all wobbly.
I started to come out of this horrible feeling when I went for a 14km run. I’d plotted the route, I had a rough idea on quite a bit of it, having run bits of it previously. I frequently paused to check the way, took photos, made a pee-stop in the bushes.
But, after the halfway point, I went slightly off course and had to replot my route.
The further I went, the lighter and brighter my head felt, getting a bit lost was the best bit, I couldn’t stew over my thoughts, the things that had been eating away at me, stupid conversations and decisions.
I then got lost again with only about 2km to run, I ended up on a private estate, but I asked for help and was pointed in the right direction, met a deer and headed back onto the road.
By the time I finished, it was like the clouds in my head had been blown away, and full of a great, funny solo run.
So that is why I run because however much it feels hard to get out there and do it, you always feel better afterwards (nearly, there are still runs that disappoint you in some way).
Come rain or shine; those clouds in your head will be blown away. I can’t promise that it will be permanent, or will work for everyone, but it works for me, and that is more than good enough.
Maybe a waffly post is better than no post at all?