Last year I made a decision: I was going to complete the couch to 5k fitness programme and become something I never thought I could be – a Real Runner. Unfortunately old habits die hard, and I got six weeks in before I stopped. I made my usual excuses. It was too hot, then I went travelling, I was staying at Dan’s a lot and didn’t have my running gear, then I moved house and suddenly it was winter and I hadn’t been running for about three months. All the hard work, the hours of running, was undone.
Now the evenings are getting lighter and all the Big Life Commitments are out of the way, I decided to bite the bullet and see exactly how close I am to square one. I went for a run. Here are the results:
- I discovered that I’m not as unfit as I thought I was. No, I cannot run for 20 minutes straight like I could before, but neither am I back at the one minute interval stage. I ran for five minutes, four times, with five minutes of walking between each run. I can still run for five minutes straight, and I can do it over and over again. In fact by the fourth run I had found my pace again, finding the distance surprisingly easy. I believe that next week I might be able to run for six or seven minutes without stopping now I’m back in my stride.
- I already feel more confident. Of course one run isn’t going to mean I’ve suddenly lost loads of weight and got super fit, but that’s not what matters right now. What matters is that I did it, I started on the road to losing weight and being fitter, and I didn’t make an excuse or talk myself out of it. It can almost be harder to start something up again than it was starting for the first time, because the fear of failure is greater after having stopped once. The important thing to remember is that you have not failed until you give up completely. I never gave up – I put it off but I never said “I am never doing this again”. Knowing that I’m at least moving in the right direction makes me feel empowered and optimistic. I will be fitter and healthier.
- My mood is lifted. I have been reminded of the positive effects of running. Yes, running feels like a complete bugger when you’re starting out. Believe me, I know it’s no walk in the park. I am not here to tell you that running is one of my big joys in life, though I’m not going to lie – I have learnt to like it. It’s the tail end of winter, so I’ve been feeling a bit down in the dumps lately – a mood not usually particularly conducive to positive behaviours. However, I had the urge to go for a run and it was honestly one of the best things I could have done. Being outside in the fresh air, feeling the weather getting slightly warmer, doing something for myself. It’s amazing how those things can make you feel, never mind the endorphins that are naturally given off when exercising! It can sometimes feel insurmountable, but if you have even a tiny glimmer of motivation I would recommend getting outside for a run, or even a brisk walk, to lift the spirits.