Why do I run? Let me start by saying; I don’t really like sport, I don’t understand the appeal of gyms, sports halls or tracks. And I certainly don’t fit the stereotype of what a female runner looks like.
But none of this matters on the streets, paths and trails where I run. And it doesn’t matter to the wonderful people I’ve met on the way.
I love running because it takes you on a journey a world away from the restrictions and prejudices I associate with much organised sport. It fundamentally reminds me that I’m human, that I’m alive. We’re all members of the human race, for goodness sake. Baby, we were born to run.
It was babies that brought me to running five years ago. I’ve always been a bit of an outdoor junkie. But long days walking and mountain biking don’t easily fit with the demands of being a new parent. So when my son was born, I bought trainers and squeezed running in when I could, with another new mum.
Those first six months of running are tough. Retuning your body to an activity it was born for, but never done, is hard. And like many mums, I’d had a difficult labour that led to health issues, making progress slow. Gradually the miles started to increase and with them my confidence. After a break for baby number two, I toyed with joining my local club.
I’d always been aware of PB Fitness Running Club in my village of Rowlands Gill. Here was a club on my doorstep where I could improve and meet like-minded people. A year after Ruth was born, I took the plunge. The fact my running mate came too made it a lot less scary.
It was then that my love of running took off. This fantastic club showed me that runners are open, welcoming folk who respects whoever turns out to run. And it continually encourages me to enter races, try new terrains and push myself physically.
I’m most definitely a slow and steady long-distance runner. 10k races make me quake much more than marathons. Although I enjoy road races, I’m getting drawn more and more to trail and fell running. It takes me back to my first love and where we fundamentally belong; among the mud and fells and trees. And surely it is better for the old joints?
Running is not just my physical, fresh-air fix. It keeps me sane. It is fun to run with others, but the joy of having the space to run and be on your own is the loveliest thing. And I’ve been blessed with a supportive and loving hubby who understands how important that time is for me.
“Well done. Your pace over those last few miles was amazing,” said a young, athletic guy shaking my hand at the finish line of Kielder Marathon last year. I’d decided to enter the race as a 40th birthday treat. I’d overtaken him towards the end, as my spirits soared turning a corner to a breathtakingly lovely view of the lake.
I love Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign as I’m that girl, a runner in spite of my lumps, bumps and jiggly bits.
I am proud I can run a marathon, but I don’t over-inflate the achievement. People have much more difficult stuff to deal with in life than running 26.2 miles for fun.
But knowing I can run undoubtedly sharpens my stamina and reminds me of what we are capable of as human beings. I hope this stands me in good stead for the bigger challenges.
Yes, I am one of those boring running evangelists. Pear-shaped? Prefer poetry to Sky Sport? Hate tracksuits? Then, you’d probably love running. Honestly. Just look at me.