I’m not a runner.
At least that’s what I believed until I moved to Bath. I’ve been telling myself I’m not a runner for decades. In fact I remember the moment that I made that decision – it was during an 800m race when I was 14 years old. I could see my PE teacher getting excited about my time and panicked. This was too hard, too time consuming and not fun. I stopped running with 100m to go, deciding there and then I was a sprinter and NOT a distance runner.
Two children and some decades later, we moved to Bath and I joined a circuits class led by Kerry in my local park. At the same time, I decided that I would turn the morning school drop off into an opportunity to run and improve my stamina. I totally failed in the first week and was appalled that I couldn’t get up the hill by school without having to walk. I mentioned this to Kerry and she encouraged me to be patient and to try slowing my pace down. For a sprinter this was very odd advice. Surely, running meant going as fast as you could for as long as you could? Apparently not. I experimented and it worked. In a couple of weeks, I could run for more than 5 minutes at a time, then 10 minutes and gradually longer and longer.
Within a few months I began to feel odd if I didn’t fit a couple of runs in a week and realised that I’d started talking about running with friends and family. The idea of me joining a running group was floated and I decided to give it a go. The first session I went to was hill runs (which continue to be my bête noire) and I barely kept up. Kerry was brilliant afterwards and spotted that I was comparing myself unfavourably to the fit lovelies in the group that had been running for longer and she reminded of how far I’d come. Another mind shift and although, I still struggle with being at the back of the group, deep down I recognise that my fitness is improving and my running form (that’s also a thing apparently) is getting better. And that brings me to the other benefits of running. I’m learning to turn off the voice that says “You’re a grown woman. You don’t have to do this. If you don’t enjoy running up hills, then don’t do it” and replacing it with “Even if it takes another 6 months, I bloody will get up that hill and then I’m going to do it again.”
My first running anniversary will be in September 2017 and I’ve entered the Bath Half. I’m working with Kerry to plan my training and build up to that distance. Oddly enough I’m not worried about the training – that’s planning and commitment and I can do that. At the moment I’m feeling a mix of nerves because I haven’t raced competitively since those sprints at school and I have no idea how it will be to run with lots of other people. But this is where Kerry and my new network of running friends come in.
For me the benefit of working with Kerry is that her love of running is infectious. As a trainer she offers that heady mix of knowledge, enthusiasm and intuition. If ever I’m struggling she is miraculously by my side, talking me through my running form, reminding me of how far I’ve come and that I can do it.
Am I a runner now? Hell yes!