People have asked me in the past how I got into running in the first place and writing this blog has really made me think about this question. I wanted to share my thoughts because I honestly think that anyone could get into running.
Anyone who knows me would not doubt that I love running. But I haven’t always been a fan. To just run, nothing else, just one foot in front of the other, isn’t that just a bit boring? When people ask me why I run, it’s actually not easy to answer.
I still remember the first time Clinton asked me to join him on a run at a local park. Sure. I said. It looked so easy. I could do that, right? And I managed just two minutes of running before I had to stop. Running was HARD. And definitely not pleasant.
But running meant I could eat whatever I wanted (or at least that’s what I thought). And that was a real draw for me. I have the most OBSCENE appetite for someone my size. I could eat more than Clinton and my dad put together. And I am greedy too. If someone put me in charge of serving food I will make sure that I get the exact same portion as my male counterparts, no matter how much bigger they may be. Running made it possible for me to enjoy cake, so I kept giving it a go. My runs went up from 1km to 3km to 5km.
The next thing I knew I was lining up on the start line for the Nike Run to the Beat half marathon. How did that happen? Surely I should have at least done a 10km race first? To be honest, I just wanted to test myself and the thought of saying half marathon sounded so much more impressive in my head. Also a friend asked me to do it. Peer pressure is a great and terrible thing.
The run itself wasn’t quick, but I just loved it. I loved the atmosphere and the environment and it was quite a humbling experience to be so well supported by crowds of people. And to run with people challenging themselves and raising money for so many different charities and causes. The next day my legs were ridiculously sore but I was so proud.
Over time I got faster and faster. In the last five years I pushed my a 5k time of 29 min down to just over 22 min and my half marathon time of 2 hours down to 1.40 . It became addictive to record my time and see seconds fall away. In our daily life, when achievements are so difficult to measure, it’s great to have something on paper I can look back at and week by week see how I’ve improved.
Far too often, running is simply thought of as a means to an end, a chore people take on for weight loss. For me, it’s just about having some “me” time. My brain could be filled with music that’s playing in my headphones or enjoying the changing scenery. Meantime, the subconscious mind resets. When I’m running there is no need to stress about all the things I should be doing, because I am already doing one of them. The work, the bills, the annoying stuff can just be parked aside, and I can simply focus on the now.
What’s more, running has taken me to places that I would not have otherwise explored.
So that is why I run: I run because it clears my head and because I love the tranquility of it. I run so that I can eat my heart out. And, above all, I run because I enjoy running. And obviously, being able to spend time with Clinton is a bonus too.
I’m no expert, but to anyone just starting out, I would say just start out easy and try and keep going without stopping. And then each time you go out, try and go a bit further – say, add a mile to it, every other week. Once you’ve built up to a certain level of running fitness, you will simply feel better about life!