On Running and Completing Race For Life 5K
I never thought of myself as a runner. In fact, I was once adamant that running just wasn't for me. I used to run everywhere as a kid. If you were to ask my parents, they would tell you endless stories about how I would always ask if it was okay for me to run as long as it wasn't out of view - i.e. to the end of the playground and wait, to the school gate and wait, etc. Then I broke two small bones in my foot during a PE lesson in Junior school. It seemed as though I was stuck in a cast for what felt like forever. I remember being driven to school and wheeled around whilst my brother was playing football.
After the cast was taken off, it turned out that the damage was so minor that I didn't really need a cast or to take all this extra care after all (
), but naturally my confidence to run, let alone walk on my foot had completely dissipated. When I got to secondary school, I used to participate in sprints and relays for my house on school sports days, but anything that demanded more stamina than that just didn't seem to work for me. Now I've begun running again, I've realised (and somewhat rediscovered) that it's just another sport that simply requires practice and dedication to gradually improve performance.
Now I'm not quite sure what made me decide to take up running. One morning I just put on some gym gear and went outside. In the back of my mind I've always been interested in running the London marathon. Watching the humungous group of people warming up behind the start line on TV, tended to make me think about how cool it would be if one of those people were me. Jumping from nothing to running a marathon seemed a liiittle crazy though, but it soon became a goal I didn't want to stay as just another thing I'd like to do
- whenever that day may be. So, I decided to take baby steps... And signed up for Race For Life's 5K.
Before I even started putting in the practice, I knew I would begin to see changes physically - both in my ability and appearance-wise, but what I didn't expect to experience was such a positive impact mentally too. Running clears my head. I'm too busy focusing on where I'm going, what I'm doing, my breathing or even the aches and pains, that I forget whatever else has been playing on my mind, as there just isn't the headspace to think about it. Yes, there have been moments where I can feel every limb burning with the heat of a thousand suns or I've been counting down to the moment the
says I can slow down and walk for a minute... But if I'm honest,
the soreness still helps
. Waking up the next day and feeling achey is a really great feeling. It reminds me that I'm doing something right.
Physically, my strength and stamina has improved, and I've seen favourable changes to my body as well. Namely leaner legs and a toned tummy - both of which I'm very proud of, haha! It's worked wonders on my Derby performance too. My balance has got a hell of a lot better and as a result I fall far less. I can jam without feeling like I'm out of breath, that I'm not strong enough to break through or that I'll topple over - I've even received compliments about my hard hits when jamming too. Not only that, my confidence is coming on leaps and bounds; being able to support other players from a controller position has especially been a humungous confidence booster, and exercising solo in public has helped with my overall confidence in general as well - even hecklers haven't stopped me! Head up, eyes front, breathing heavily and face like a beetroot, but not a care in the world about who may be watching feels pretty empowering.
I actually enjoy running so much now that I've even started feeling a slight withdrawal when I haven't been out for a run that day - it's like a complete shift has happened inside me. I've even been to Roller Derby practice and gone for a run afterwards, because I can feel myself itching to go out and do it. It's as though I start to miss the feeling of being in that moment.
June saw me complete my first ever Race For Life 5K in memory of my uncle Colin. When I arrived I was a little nervous. I'm not quite sure why, perhaps it was because all the running I'd done so far had been alone, but I found myself stood away from the crowd participating with the on stage antics. But when they called for the warm up, I made my way over and joined in with everyone else and the energetic instructor on stage. I was already pretty proud of myself by this point, as this would have been something I would have never felt comfortable doing before! Lets all just forget the part where I clouted a passing woman in the face, as my arms were in mid-swing during one of the exercises though...
Once we were all suitably warmed up, it was time to go! Out of the run, jog and walk categories, I jumped in at the end of the running lot and front of the jogging group. The countdown happened, the pink fog appeared and we were off... I'm ecstatic to report that I finished with a time of 28 minutes 51- the fastest I've ever run 5K in! And apparently, I finished amongst the top twenty fastest runners too, so I'm absolutely chuffed! I can't wait to get out running again and have decided that next on the agenda will be either another 5K or perhaps the 10K for GOSH next year, before moving onto the London marathon! The biggest thing I've taken from all of this, is that I have learnt that when I stop thinking I can't do something and believe that yes,
yes I can
, I most definitely can indeed. In the end, the only person holding me back was myself.