One year ago I set out on Week One, Run One of a training programme called NHS C25k and little did I know what I was doing. Within a couple of weeks I was getting out of bed at 5.30 in the morning.........to go running.???
Maybe it is all a dream....maybe I am still thinking,” I really ought to do something about my diminishing stamina, before it is too late.” Maybe I haven't decided to take some positive action to try to avoid the fate of so many of my peers and associates who have had heart surgery in their late fifties or early sixties. Perhaps I never did see all those wonderful sunrises, through the mist or frighten deer as I careered through the fields, casting long shadows across the glorious Devon countryside. Surely I imagined all those icy mid winter runs with mud over my ankles, lit only by a headtorch, with steam rising from my lycra clad body.
No, not me, not with my dodgy knees and an aversion to sports clothing!!!
But then again I remember that feeling, when I was drifting off to sleep. The feeling I had since my youth, of running effortlessly across a landscape......a feeling of release and freedom (and I don't subscribe to the Freudian interpretation!). Yes, there was definitely that moment.....drifting off to sleep......running......yes......yes, I do that..... I run.........BANG!!!!! Sudden dawning realisation and total wakefulness..... No I don't......I haven't run in forty years!!!
So it's all true and yes, my wife runs too, despite telling me she never would. We did run through the woods together, splashing through the puddles on the last day of December, like a couple of ten year olds and along the beach on a cool autumn day. Our son came on a couple of runs too, even though he is a cyclist rather than a runner. We did go to Parkrun together and both set PBs on the same day.
Yes, it's all true, I found C25k and equally importantly this forum, which was full of motivational tales from people who seemed to be amazed by the incredible running feats they had undertaken. I was inspired and in the light of the recent debates about posting stats, I nail my colours to the mast. If you had told me that within a year I would be able to run 1k in 4:58, 5k in 25:41, 10k in 57:38 and run 10miles in 1hr 47, I would never have believed it. I was quite happy with the idea that I might be able to run for 30 minutes at the end of the training plan. But then I was under the misunderstanding that running was just a means of getting fit. Oh the naivety!!
Running can change your life, but if you also have the good fortune to have discovered this community, then you will never be short of empathetic readers of your rambles, answers to your queries and motivation and support in bucket loads from the nicest bunch of people in the running world.
Many lessons have been learned about my body and my mind, over the past year and trying to sum up with something profound is extremely difficult and undoubtedly pretentious, so I will leave it like this. If you come to running at the age of 57, as I did, then respect your body (I can't endorse JuicyJu's most extreme mantras) and build up your running gently. One year in, I am extremely aware that I am only a beginner in this running game and I look forward with enthusiasm to all the lessons to come. The more you know, the more you find there is to know.
Keep running, keep smiling.