Happy Saturday all! It really is a happy one in my house, because the sun is (finally) shining and I’m writing this while eating porridge in preparation for a little solo run in an hour or two.
I’m feeling particularly good today, because I’m actually excited about running. When daily exercise was the only time we were allowed outside, I chose a walk over a run at least 5 days out of 7. I have no garden and I think with so much time spent stuck indoors, I wanted that one bit of outdoor time to be spent slowly taking in my surroundings instead of running past them.
Obviously we’ve been allowed more outside time lately, but for a fair while that motivation to run just didn’t seem to be coming back, in fact it vanished even more. I’m not entirely sure why, but I suspect it was a combination of self-doubt (can I still do it?) and allowing myself to be more affected by all of that “get fit in lockdown” talk than I’d care to admit. I’m nothing if not stubborn, and external pressure to exercise just makes me want to sit on my sofa 24/7.
Anyway, with a half marathon for charity on the horizon it was time to get moving again, and after a few meet-ups with a friend to drag ourselves around some painful almost-5k’s, I’m starting to feel like a runner again! I’m also starting to remember why I love it. Not every time (no-one loves every single run), but enough to make the crap times worth persevering with. I’m aware many new people have taken up running in recent months, so now seemed as good a time as any to share my thoughts on why running is actually the best.
A solo run is like a big spring clean for my brain. It’s my time alone to just process whatever’s going on in my head during a given week – whether that means having a bit of a silent rant to myself, taking time to appreciate good things that have happened or working through any unresolved thoughts so I can file them away and move on. It can be easy to end the working week feeling a bit drained, but a good run on a Saturday morning gets rid of that last remaining bit of stress and really sets me up for a relaxing weekend.
It’s like being part of a community without really having to talk to anyone. Don’t get me wrong – I love people. I really like talking. But, as you will have gathered from my previous blog posts, I’m also a bit of an introvert and really need time alone. Sometimes going for a morning run feels like the best of both worlds. I head off to the Downs or the harbour and run a nice 10k loop alone, and I pass a whole load of other runners doing the same. I don’t have to speak to any of them, I can plod along by myself doing all that thought-processing I was talking about, but it makes me happy just seeing other people doing the same thing I’m doing. I particularly like the ones who smile or say hi as they go past – we always need more of those runners in the world!
You don’t have to be good at it. It’s no secret that I hated school PE and it put me off exercise until I hit my 30’s. I don’t have a natural gift for sport and was not confident as a teenager, so the competitive atmosphere wasn’t for me and I’m fairly sure I felt sick with dread before every lesson. But with running, you really don’t have to be good at it. Running a 2:30 half marathon is just as valid as a 1:30 half marathon – all that counts is that you turned up and gave it your best shot. You can set goals and work towards PBs if you want to, or you can just pootle along at the same pace every single week of the year. Either way, you can still proudly call yourself a “runner”.
It’s a mini personal achievement each time. When you manage a successful run, it’s entirely down to you. Your motivation, your training, your commitment to persevering until it was possible. Maybe you bought a fancy new pair of running shoes, and sought advice from others, and experimented with different gels / snacks / pre-run meals until you found the best fit. But ultimately the reason you managed to run a 10k or a half marathon is that you got outside, laced up your shoes and ran regularly in all kinds of weather until your legs could just do it. It makes me feel good about myself, and amazed at the things my body can do, and just feel all of those positive feelings that we sometimes struggle to find.
Anyway, having written all of that I’m really keen to get outside now, so I’ll leave it here for this morning. As I mentioned before, myself and my favourite running buddy are set to do our own half marathon in October to raise money for Mind (with both the Bristol and Cardiff events now cancelled), so if you’d like to find out more or consider donating, you can do so here.
And to any new runners who are still at the stage of hating every second – I promise it gets good eventually!
Thanks for reading xx