Now I Run

Photo 28-09-2013 09 58 28

In the last few weeks, there has been one significant change in my life: I run now. That’s a thing that I do. Twice a week, in fact. What might seem inevitable (it’s kind of a Kennedy thing), never felt that way when I was standing at the sidelines watching my parents and brother racing. If I had a penny for every time someone has asked me, “So when are you going to start running?”, a whole lot of people would have had pennies thrown at them. NEVER. I’m not athletic, I’m not competitive, I’m not interested.

Now I must sit here and eat my words. I don’t really know what prompted me to suggest to my mum that we go for a run, but at last those box fresh trainers that Dad had optimistically bought me years earlier were seeing the light of day!

I have the incredibly good fortune of having two parents who know running well enough that I’m well looked after (“Do your stretches.” / “Can’t I just lay down and cry?”). Both my mum and dad have been incredibly generous and patient with me, giving up Saturday and Wednesday mornings respectively to keep me company. I don’t think I could do it without the motivation of their support and encouragement at the moment. It’s a bonding exercise (ha, literally!) – when I’m not swearing in a fit of running rage. I really am sorry about that, Mum.

Of course, it hurts. I think I’ve had stitch every single time. For the first two or three weeks, I couldn’t talk at all because I had to focus on controlling my breathing for the entire duration. I am suddenly very aware of every muscle in my body at the end. Once Mum asked me what kind of pain I was in and I replied, “It feels like a Teletubby cut a hole out of my stomach to stick a TV in.” On reflection, I’m as sceptical over the accuracy of that statement as she was.

I think the moment I realised that there was a difference between pain and injury was the biggest breakthrough I’ve had. Stopping doesn’t make a stitch go away so you might as well keep running. So I do. And I’m so used to it now, it doesn’t hurt in the same way. I’ve made peace with the discomfort. At the end, if I’m not in some discomfort then I know I haven’t pushed myself and don’t feel happy with what I’ve done. Is that normal? There was one particular week where I felt like I’d run really slowly, and it had been a little bit of an obstacle course (due to lots of puddles and fallen trees) so I’d never found a rhythm, but at the end I pushed so hard because I knew it’d make me feel like it had been worth coming out. There was a very determined mantra of, “One foot in front of the other” running through my mind throughout that. That’s all it is, one foot in front of the other. Mum commented that she was glad my stubbornness had finally come to some use.

The thing that always put me off tying up the laces of my blindingly white trainers and getting out there – all of that pain – is now part of the draw. I enjoy my Wednesdays and Saturdays more than any other day because it’s a perfect way to start a day – fresh air and a guiltless break from uni work! I’ve been running two miles on each outing. For me, that’s challenging. But I plan to keep challenging myself. Hopefully soon what I find challenging won’t sound quite so pathetic. I’m not trying to break any records. I just want to feel fit and healthy. And I’m feeling more so with every jog. I can even (kind of) hold a conversation when we’re running now.

It’s also made me appreciate more how incredible Mum and Dad’s achievements are. Right now, the thought of a third mile makes me tremble, let alone a 26th! They’re amazing (read: insane). As well as the crazy parents, two weeks ago I watched my little brother claim his biggest win yet: a 10 mile race on home turf, in a mere 56:52. The boy’s a machine! A running machine! It was a really wonderful day, though, and those crazy parents were beaming. You can even read all of my dad’s proud dad feelings in his write-up of that day.

It’s been a good few weeks so far. I’m hoping I can do a Parkrun soon – something laidback to start me off. I’m optimistic that I’ll be sticking with this running lark, thanks to my parents’ unwavering support. And also because it would probably be super embarrassing to make a blog post about it and then stop. Besides, it’s fun!