This is not a story about how one day I discovered that running had always been calling my name and that I just wasn't listening hard enough and now I spend my weekends clocking up the miles in marathons. This is not the story of someone who one day had to run for a bus and never stopped running. When I mentioned on my own blog recently that I'd just started running, someone commented and told me that they'd been running for a year but still wouldn't describe themselves as a 'runner' - so this isn't even the story of someone who started off as a couch potato and blossomed into a 'runner'. (Incidentally, I am excited for the day when I can call myself a runner. I kind of imagine that there is some kind of initiation process and that one day, when I'm at my lowest; maybe I'm coiled up in a ball in a ditch with a twisted ankle and a stitch, or crawling the last mile of a race with a broken ankle, Roger Bannister will jump out of a hedge, pat me on the back and give me a badge that says 'Congratulations, you're a runner'.)
Anyway, I digress. A few months ago I read a book called 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' by Haruki Murakami. I read this not because of an interest in running, but because he's my favourite author and I'd read all of his other books! But I really enjoyed it. And I started to really enjoy the idea of running. There's something quite poetic about be-trainered feet pounding through a forest or along a road, crushing gravel and pine needles underfoot. There's something quite primitive about doing something that doesn't require fancy equipment or expensive membership. And for me, there's something very appealing about something that gets you out in the fresh air, with only your legs and your heart taking you where you want to go. But the draw I felt to running was equivalent to me being drawn to weightlifting or gymnastics - I admired those who did it, but my body wasn't capable of it. And more than that, I knew that, in reality... I didn't have the motivation to running. I could never see myself hopping out of bed at 6am, excited to sprint out of the front door like I imagined seasoned runners must do. So this meant I would never be a runner. (Or a gymnast, or a weightlifter).
In reading the book, however, I learned something valuable. There's a part where Haruki Murakami is interviewing the Olympic runner Toshihiko Seko and he asks him, "Does a runner at your level ever feel like you'd rather not run today, like you don't want to run and would rather just sleep in?" The book says 'He stared at me, and then, in a voice that made it abundantly clear how stupid he thought the question was, replied; "Of course! All the time!" Murakami says "When we lace up our running shoes early in the morning, we feel exactly the same." If someone had asked me why I didn't run I could reel off hundreds of excuses, but the simple fact is that the only thing stopping you from running a 10k this time next year is you. When you climb into bed tonight and set your alarm, the only person stopping you from setting it half an hour earlier and going for a run, is you. Just imagine for a second what that would be like, to go into work and say, "I went for a run this morning." (Trust me, it feels great.)
On July 23rd of this year I had a day off from work and was about to head out of the door to walk the dog when it occurred to me; "What if I ran with the dog instead of walking him." I suppose I am lucky in that I already own a pair of running trainers from when I dabbled in going to the gym, but I did exactly that. It took me 28 minutes to run (with long sections of breathless walking - only able to run a few metres at a time) 1.34 miles. When I got home I was hot, sweaty and utterly exhausted. But it felt good. It felt good to have done something. To have pushed my body and made it do something it found difficult. And to know that this time next week, and the one after that, I would be better. Since then I've run ten times (I really am a complete beginner to this). On Thursday I did the same distance in 15 minutes - half my first time - and ran an 11 minute mile - three minutes less than my first mile time. And if I keep running, there are things that I know. I know that I will get faster, stronger and fitter. I know that the more I run, the longer distances I'll be able to run, which means I'll be able to burn more calories. I know that, coupled with a good diet and regular training, running will be my ticket to the body I've always wanted. I know that I always regret not going running but I never regret going. It always feels good afterwards. Every person is built the same and is capable of anything.
To anyone out there who has thought about running but told themselves they can't, I want you to know that you can. Buy yourself a good pair of trainers, have a good stretch and a warm up, and go. Run and then walk for a bit, run and then run slower, run around the block and then come back home, but run. I promise it will be worth it. Every time I lace up my trainers at 6am the 15-year-old inside of me having a minor asthma attack tells me not to, but to everyone still in bed, or sat on the sofa, I am that girl striding ahead, my ponytail swinging away in the distance.
Running is a great form of exercise and key to keeping a healthy body. Sometimes injuries can occur from doing running such as a sprains or muscle tears and you may need to visit a specialist injuries clinic. There are a number of these clinics located in local private hospitals in Birmingham.