I have a long and rocky relationship with running (and exercise in general) – we’ve spent a lot of time not actually on speaking terms before we came to a grudging reconciliation.
As a child, I wasn’t really designed for exercise. In ballet classes I was the chubby, enthusiastic one who was always one step behind everyone. I didn’t really graduate beyond pointing and closing my toes. I couldn’t run (well that’s what a classmate told me aged 8). At high school, my experience of running was limited to doing cross country in the local park, my large and wobbly bottom clad in a substantial pair of black PE knickers. Not a good experience for me or the local squirrels.
As a result, I did very little exercise between 16 and 24. There were a few misguided flings with local gyms, but it didn’t come to much. There was also far too much in the way of guinness, takeaways and lard-based hangover cures. 2004 saw a lot of changes in my life; I went back to uni to retrain in a new profession, turned a friend into a boyfriend (who would later become a husband) and decided to lose some weight and get fit. Using a combination of regular gym sessions and a well known slimming club, I lost about 2 and a half stone.
Four years later, I found myself with a degree, a job, a husband and half a stone back on (married life agrees with me). In September I went to a funeral of a lovely friend; it was standing room only and was one of those days that makes you question where you’re going in life, how you want to be remembered and what changes you need to make to be a better person. On a more pragmatic level, I struggled to fasten my suit jacket and thought I should do something about that.
I decided to run. With the help of a 5k beginners programme and a friend bullying me into joining a beginners group at a local running club, I went from barely a minute to 5k in a couple of months. My running is more of an ungainly lollop, I turn bright red in the face within yards of the front door and I generally have to be hustled out of the house with a broom. Paula Radcliffe I aint.
In February 2013 I found out that I was pregnant and cheerfully carried on running, clocking up three 10k’s and a half marathon (well I’d already paid for them) before hanging up my trainers and doing more gentle pursuits like needlepoint and replacing the carpet tiles in the cupboard under the stairs. Mini-Ginge was born in October and was somewhat reluctant to enter the word, eventually emerging with some assistance from the man that my mother referred to as ‘Dr Big Hands’.
I was signed off running or any other energetic bouncing for six months. During those six months I sighed and gnashed my teeth about not been able to run. And then I was allowed to run. But did I? No. I had many false starts and it’s taken about 18 months for my head to be in the right place to find my enthusiasm for running again. I am not sure where this particular bit of travelling hopefully will take me, but I’m looking forward to finding out.