Hello you lovely forum folk, old and new (so many new names here since I last visited, I'm sure)! I am sorry for not being around much recently. I wish I could find more time to visit more often and I do intend to try to make time soon. Also apologies for the long post alert but here are my ramblings and reflections on the eve of a special day for me.
A year ago tomorrow, on the day of the London Marathon 2016, I sat like I do most years and cried at the amazing, incredible people who were running 26.2 miles and all of their amazing stories. That evening, having never even run for a bus since the torture of school PE (and still occasionally getting nightmares about the bleep test) I got out the boyfriend's treadmill and completed W1R1 of the NHS C25k plan. Laura helped me through via the podcast and the amazing people on this forum encouraged me on that beginning of my C25k journey.
I've read back over some of my earlier posts today and would never have believed that in a year's time, not only could I run 5k with relative ease, but that I would actually love running. I began reflecting upon a few things which I've learned over the last year on my running journey.
1. I've achieved more than I ever thought I could. I felt like there was some kind of physical difference in me which meant I was 'not made for running'. This is a complete fallacy and I wish I'd learnt it sooner. Anyone and everyone can run.
2. Sometimes still I struggle to go out and run 3k and other times I run 5k+ and feel fine at the end. I have learnt what affects my running most (time of day, food I've eaten or not eaten, etc) but sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why I have a bad run. I don't let it discourage me anymore as I know it doesn't mean I've suddenly lost my ability to run.
3. Even if I have one of those bad 3k runs or if I feel a niggle and stop early, I've still run 3k further than if I had stayed at home sitting on the couch. Even if you go out for a walk, it's still something.
4. In a year, I've never once regretted going out for a run. No matter how hard it is at the time, whether I've got home feeling ill because I'd not left long enough after eating or whether I'd spent the whole run trying not to slip up on icy pavements, I've always come back feeling better than when I've left. Running is magic and the mix of endorphins and the sense of achievement hits me after every single run.
5. The journey is not linear. Just like with the C25k, setbacks can and will occur. Injuries (or sometimes just life) can stop you from running for weeks or months and suddenly you find yourself back where you were a number of weeks or months ago. That's ok. I've learnt that there's not one destination that we're aiming for when running - perhaps little destinations along the way, but not one final destination. Running is about the journey. Each run follows a run and precedes another. No matter what you have just achieved or whether you are sitting on the injury couch, there will always be another run (which is fabulous)!
6. Speed doesn't matter. It's said right through the C25k programme but, although I love my running watch and tracking my stats each run, I don't need to think about it too closely. It's great to note so I can push myself a little bit each run but I've started to notice that gradually I'm losing a couple of seconds off my min/km pace without really trying. The more you run the more your distance and pace will increase.
7. It doesn't matter what people think. I started C25k on the treadmill and was terrified to run outside because of what people would think of me. Once I took the advice of people on the forum and went for my first outdoor run I loved it so much and have never run on the treadmill again. Running has helped my self image so much and helped my perspective. There will always be someone faster and someone slower than you. There will always be someone younger, older, larger, slimmer, fitter. That person I have just run past might be on km 15 while I'm on my first. Runners see other runners and understand and appreciate what they're doing. Non runners barely notice (how often did you notice runners before C25k compared with now?) and if they do and they think or say anything negative their thoughts aren't valid or worth anything.
8. The ability and opportunity to run is a gift. Every stride I try to remember that some people don't have this as an option I am so lucky to have a body which allows me to achieve these things. Before running I definitely took my body for granted but running has helped me feel more at one with it and understand it much better. I hope that I never will take it for granted again.
I'm sure there is so much more I can add but I'm, not only proud of myself for challenging myself to the C25k to begin with and sticking with it but thankful for the opportunity and the support I've had along the way.
Tomorrow I will go out for a run, reflect upon my year long journey, consider the differences from a year ago and feel very, very happy. But today I will watch the marathon and probably have a little cry while hearing all the incredible stories and seeing the people who have overcome such difficulties to be running today.
Happy running, everybody!