Running – easy for me, right?

Wrong! I wasn’t born with trainers attached to my feet and I’m certainly not built to run long distances, but everyone has to start somewhere.

The expression “run before you can walk” is pretty accurate of most people when they decide they want to start running. They run full pelt for 100 yards, collapse in a heap and then wonder why they hate running and never want to try it again! It’s fair to say, like eating black olives, running is an acquired taste. It doesn’t come naturally to most and you have to work at it. Only after perseverance do you start to get a glimpse of why so many thousands of people turn out in droves to run in the London Marathon every year. It’s that glimmer of greatness, which only happens every once in a while, that keeps me running.

So how did I start on this running journey?

Village 5k, June 2010

I started out on my first 5k 2 years ago this June. Every year my village holds a 5k cross country race. I thought I’d enter it. It was a disaster. I came last with a time of 44 minutes! Why did I come last? Well, I was over weight, unfit and thought the ‘leg it and stop’ strategy would work. It didn’t.

That’s what prompted me to properly train – I downloaded the pod runner intervals First Day to 5k programme. The idea behind this programme is that you start with short intervals of running and walking, and these then gradually increase over a 6-week period so that by the end of it you are running 5k. Well, that for me was a revelation! The good thing for me was that I could squeeze it into my day quite easily as I only had to get up 30 minutes earlier than normal to get the training in.

A year later, I went back and did the village 5k and this time I did it in 34 minutes. Not bad, but I really wanted to get that down to under the 30-minute mark. I found it reasonably easy to increase the distance from 5k to 10k using the freeway to 10k programme and did the British 10k in 1 hour 10 minutes, but I couldn’t improve my times.  This is where I think a personal trainer comes in. Cue Dave – within 6 weeks of hill training (where previously I’d avoided hills!), hill repeats (running up and down hills to beat your previous times) and making full use of Park Run in Hove Park, I’d got my 10k time down from 1 hour 10 on the flat to 1 hour 2 minutes on an extremely hilly wimbledon course. Even more impressively I got my 5k time down to 26.5 minutes! That was 6 months ago now and I’m probably 1 stone and a half lighter and even fitter so who knows what my 10k time will be now? I am itching to find out but I think that will have to wait until after the marathon.

Me after the Wimbledon 10k last October.

This year I’m really looking forward to the village 5k in June – I’m aiming for a time of 26 minutes!

So now I’m regularly running 15+ miles and I still have bad days where I quit after 3 miles and grab a bacon sandwich, but I also have great days where my feet feel as light as a feather and I feel like I could run forever. Running just goes like that sometimes. It’s what keeps us on our toes and lets us know we’re alive.

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