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Running | A Beginner's Story

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I'm willing to bet that we all had a similar experience of running in school.  For the first 16 years of my life, running was: watching the popular girls' ponytails swing like glossy pendulums in front of me as their athletic legs took them off along the track and into the distance.  Being forced to wear musty PE kit from the lost property box because I feigned forgetting mine to try and get out of it.  Hiding behind trees and gossiping about boys during long distance running because we were supposed to be running five laps of the local sewage farm. Being diagnosed with 'sports related asthma' because I couldn't run further than ten metres without my lungs burning and being bent double gasping for breath.  As a result, when I left school I hung up my trainers and filed 'running' away into a section of my brain entitled 'not for me'.  This is where it lived, quite happily, for the next 18 years, nestled amongst 'sushi' and 'any sports that involve getting my face wet'.

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.

25 comments:

  1. Funnily enough I got up at 6am and went running this morning...I've been trying it out with cycling and swimming and I finally felt ready to run. And it IS great to go into work and feel pretty smug about having gotten exercise done for the day. Great post...it will keep me motivated :)

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    1. I've been trying to mix it up with cycling and swimming too. It doesn't come easy to me at all but it definitely feels good afterwards, plus it feels like you get an extra bit of morning if you go before work! X

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  2. Great first post Rosie :) Can't wait to read more from you xx

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  4. I was that same girl in school, watching the pony tails swing in front of me and then eventually getting my ticket out of gym class with a doctors note. I ran my first mile last Monday. I RAN for the first time in 15 (at least) years. All my life, I've let my lungs be the excuse I didn't run. I told myself I didn't have it in me, that I just wasn't capable of it. I'm done lying to myself. :) Excellent post Rosie!

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    1. I am exactly the same; I always told myself I couldn't do it because my calves, throat and lungs burned when running even a few metres, and it still does burn but I try and remember that it's a good burn because it means I'm doing something! I can only really do a mile but little by little we'll be able to do more :) X

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  5. Loved this post Rosie! I'm not a natural runner at all, but go to the gym at 6am most work day mornings and do try a bit of running on the tredmil. I'm getting there slowly! xx

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  6. I love this! Makes me want to throw on my dodgy trainers and run like the wind (I'll probably manage just to the end of the driveway :D ). Thank you x

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  7. This post is great! I really want to start running/jogging but I can never muster up the motivation! xx

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  8. Absolutely love this! Setting my alarm for 5.30 tomorrow (!!) to get up and push through with C25K. Incredible first post <3 xxx

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  9. This is fab - it's been mentioned before but the NHS Couch to 5k podcast is amazing for getting started! x

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  10. I loved this post.

    I hated PE in school, all the slim, fit and althetic girls made me feel inadequate.

    I dreaded bleep tests. They were the bane of my school life. The PE teachers would spring them on you. No one wanted to be the first one to drop out. Even if I was dying I made sure I dropped out in the middle. But then the skinny girls would go for miles more. Thinking about it now I don't think I pushed myself as hard as I could have.

    The first time I ran 5k in one go I was delighted. I've never considered myself a runner. I only stopped running because I had a car accident and my foot got ran over, I've had physio for it and it is better but I need to work up my running performance again.

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  11. Hi I have just started running this week. This NHS app

    http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx

    eases you into running 5k in 9 weeks. I am only on week one but it's pushing me but easing me into it. I urge you to try this if you're thinking about running it's fantastic!

    this blog is really motivating, I decided to eat less and try running after reading your posts so thank you. It's only been a week by my skirt is looser!

    xxx Becky

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  12. As much as I feel totally inspired and motivated by this post, I HATE running like really hate it, but I want to be a runner. So on average, every three years, I try again, I go out for a twenty minute run, die a little bit inside, and never do it again. I have a feeling the same thing is going to happen this time around, I'm just not made for running :(

    Glad to hear you're doing so well though :)

    allaboutthegirlblog.blogspot.com xx

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  13. Love this Rosie! Actually genuinely inspirational! Love the fact your are part of this crew WAMK! I have been attempting jogging for a few years now, and I just really struggle, in fact Callum dragged me to go yesterday! I kept refusing but he just wouldnt let me get out of it. My problem is that I dont really enjoy it and I constantly feel like im failing, so my question to you is, how do you plan your run? Do you have a set route? I keep not meeting my route and then getting annoying! Having said that, I came away feeling proud that I did try it! xxx

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  14. Running has been on my 'things to do eventually' list for...well... EVER!
    There is always a reason not to go; it's raining, it's too cold, it's too hot, it's too light and people will see me, it's too dark and it might be dangerous etc... but thank you so much for an inspirational and encouraging post. I am determined to get out there and swing my ponytail too! xx

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  15. Loved your first post, Rosie. Very honest and original. I took up running on the treadmill in the gym a while ago and would love to gravitate to pavements. I still can't run more than about 4km but the idea of pounding the streets as the sun comes up is all very poetic (sweaty fringe and raspy breathing not included!). Cx

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  16. Its a wonderful motivational post. I want to begin myself tomorrow.

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  17. Omg omg omg!! Haruki Murakami is my absolute fave author too! I feel like I have found a kindred spirit!

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  18. Well done for sticking at it - I started running a couple of years ago and ran my frist half marathon this year. It was bloody hard work but I was so chuffed when I crossed the finish line. I stil struggle to motivate myself to go out, but like you, once I do, I always feel better : ) And if it cancels out have a few chips with dinner, then that's a bonus!

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  19. Loved this post, your writing is lovely. I've attempted the C25k twice but never get past 4 days, this has definitely inspired me to get out & try again :)

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  20. Great post! I'm about to go for my very first run....eek!

    I'd love some advice on running gear and what makes a good trainers.

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  21. Right, I am going for a run later. Just going to bite the bullet and do it.

    ...I'm scared.

    xx

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