I have bitched about running, how much I don't like it, and I've read so many blog posts, articles and interviews about the wonder of running whilst in my head thinking: yeah, whatever.
I feel about cycling how many feel about running- it gives me joy, I feel free, I enjoy working hard. But for reasons unknown, running has never given me such joy. That said, I've tried to like it. And I almost got there. In January and early February, something started to click for me. I suspect it has something to do with having a better base level of fitness meaning that I'm not consistently struggling for breath whilst trying to get to grips with the running bit. Then a chest infection struck and then our house move drama kicked off and I turned to the vodka bottle rather than trainers. I know, I know. Not big. Not clever. But it kinda helped.
Anyway, moan, moan, moan. Whine, whine, whine. And now it's time to get on and get over it. I know for some people shiny new kit is a motivator- and there's no doubt I've had a fair amount of that in the last couple of months (mostly thanks to Helly Hansen) but it's not always the biggest factor in getting me out there. I've never had a huge desire to run a race, so I'm not sold that signing up for a race or event is the answer either. The biggest factor this time has been stress relief and keeping my diet in check.
Moment of appreciation for amazing tights AND my nails matching my trainers
Exercise (not just running) really helps me to manage my stress and whilst I'm not going to moan (again) about everything going on presently, it has in part been a catalyst to get me back on the road, as much as some of the dramas were preventative. Exercise- be it on my bike or my feet, gives me the head space I need to mull things over, and even if I feel like I'm not getting anywhere with the life stuff, I rarely come home from a ride or especially a run feeling like it wasn't worthwhile, however tough, slow or cold it was.
The other thing that exercise- especially running compared with cycling in fact, is my diet. I am my own worst enemy in that I love all sorts of things that should be enjoyed in moderation and that is especially true when I'm either a. on my own (working away at the moment, and 'cooking' for one) and/or b. under pressure. There's been too much booze (because wine is my friend), too much salt and sugar and too many carbs in the last few weeks. Running always makes me crave the things I know are good for me (and that I love, it's just I love them a little less when garlic bread and primitivo are calling my name) like grilled salmon and roasted vegetables or warm spinach and chickpea salads or veg packed soups. I don't just eat them because I've talked myself out of a cheeseboard, I crave them and love them and only really worry about the cheeseboard on Friday night.
There isn't a magic trick that gets you up off your backside and into your trainers, and it's fair to say I think that the first outing (even if it's after just a short break) is the hardest.As mentioned, I've never been sold on the running a race option because I've always been a bit put off by how seriously all these things are taken and because for me, it'll always be a (proverbial) marathon not a sprint. All that said, in a moment of madness last week, I did this.
This Girl Can as a campaign has gone some way to changing some of my thoughts on sport, women in sport and general participation. I knew the figures relating to young women and teenage girls not being active weren't great but they were still shocking to me- the campaign focuses on encouraging women and girls to be active regardless of how they appear, and trying to break through the hatred of being sweaty, hot, red faced, tired, bedraggled, muddy or anything else, and that's incredibly important and incredibly powerful. But there's another judgement we need to break through, and I've been guilty of making it too.
Being invested in something- whether it's a job, a family, a sport or a TV series is not a bad thing. Making others feel lesser or judged because they don't share the same version of your commitment or enjoyment, that's bad, but if getting up and running a race every Sunday is your thing, that's cool. If you're cracking out 8 hours a week in the pool, I'm pleased for you. Marathon of Pretty Little Liars on Saturday afternoon- where do I sign up.... But it doesn't make me a bad, lesser, or plain lazy person.
This Girl Can has, for me, set the tone for a generation of young women who will hopefully be more active than ever before and take pleasure in that but more importantly, it's the start of reminding us all not to judge and that's just as important whether we're talking of women judging each other or the world at large.
I'll be happy to cross the finish line on June 21st, because I believe that THIS girl can, but to those hoping to beat their personal best or who are training for something bigger, longer or harder- go for it, good luck, train hard, I hope you'll smile back as you overtake me.