So, after a lifetime spent on the couch (well, not quite but I've never been accused of being a gym bunny, that's for sure) I took up running a couple of years ago. 2nd April 2009 to be precise.
I've always said running wasn't for me, I don't have the build, I'm too busty, I'm more of a dancer blah, blah, blah. However, when a good friend's mum - who used to smoke a few a day, was still partial to a wee whisky and, more importantly than either of those facts, was 65 at the time - decided she was running the Edinburgh Marathon in 2009, I realised that my excuses for not getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other were paper thin.
So, I originally took up running - run a minute, walk a minute, repeat for 3 minutes, then 5 etc. - as a bit of a challenge to myself and to prove that I could actually run for a bus (after years of knowing quite the reverse was true!). Even though I'm not a fan of the gym, I do walk everywhere and always have done and I wasn't particularly overweight - so I was completely shocked at a) how hard I found it to run for a minute and b) how much pain I was in the next day after a paltry 10 minute session.
However, even though it was awful and I felt sure that I probably couldn't run as I'd always suspected, after only 1 week of frankly pathetic efforts, I signed up for the Cancer Research UK's Race for Life 5K around Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh (i.e. up a bloody great hill!) and emailed all my friends to ask them to sponsor me. Talk about no way out!
The first 4 weeks of training were fairly awful. I was still counting my running in minutes rather than miles and, as the date for the 5K drew nearer, I began to panic that I wouldn't make it past the 'running for 10 minutes without stopping' stage. However, by week 6 I'd turned a corner and was happily putting on my running gear 3 or 4 times a week. So, I was delighted to finish the Race for Life in a quite reasonable (although not anything to write home about) 34 minutes.
Panicked that I would suddenly develop lazy-itis, I immediately signed up for the 10K Race for Life, trained for it and completed it in just over an hour (1 hour 6 minutes). Again, I don't think Paula Radcliffe needs to be losing any sleep but given that it hadn't been that long since I'd struggled to run a minute, walk a minute, I was chuffed.
(That's me 2nd from the left coming over the finish line - phew!)
Although there have been the odd glitches here and there and weeks that have gone by without me so much as looking at a running shoe, I've always got myself back into my 'groove' and have more or less steadily kept running since April 2009. There have been days when 2 miles seemed like 20 and days when I've done 6 miles feeling no pain at all. I've even managed to run a half marathon (which admittedly was an accident because I got lost!) but that's not the point. I ran, 13.5 miles. Me.
Nothing quite beats lacing up my running shoes, plugging in my iPod and setting out around the beautiful countryside where we live. And the added bonus - apart from feeling better than I've ever felt and having more energy to keep up with the kids - is that somehow, without reducing my food intake (or wine) at all, I've lost 10lbs!
Oh, and apart from investing in good running shoes, I don't have to pay a penny so it's a pretty thrifty way to get fit, enjoy the scenery and do something that's just about me. Despite all my misgivings running definitely helped me get my groove back. Big time.