Okay so this post is either going to bore most of you to tears or – and this is what I am hoping – it may inspire you.
While this post has nothing to do with motherhood it also has everything to do with motherhood. It’s the one where I get all self-indulgent and wax lyrical about my passion for running.
As a kid and also as a teenager I despised sport. Hated it. I could honestly think of nothing worse than being involved in a team sport. Even now – ugh. There’s no I in team which is exactly why I am not a fan. I am fiercely independent, I like to do things on my own, it’s my way or the highway basically.
If I am forced to be in a team situation I will always make sure I am the leader. I’m the person who grabs the pen or texta in a brainstorming session because I know my ideas are the best and my handwriting is probably neater than everyone else’s. My tongue is firmly in my cheek but I admit there is some truth to it. In a nutshell I’m a control freak. Wow that actually hurt to type and admit that. I am also stubborn and hate failing. You could say I am not one to give up easily, I will always put up a fight.
Despite my disdain for sport I have always had a passion for keeping fit. I have had a gym membership since the age of 18 and have tried everything from kickboxing to Bikram yoga. However I always *thought* I hated running.
My kind of workout needs to involve a lot of sweat, a little bit of pain and something where I can push my body to its limits. Enter running – the perfect sport for someone like me. Anyone can run but it’s the stubborn, determined runners who feel they have something to prove who go the furthest.
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would call myself a runner or an athlete but I am both. I don’t even know how I got to this point as I can’t even remember why I started to run. All I know is it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has changed my life.
I flirted with running back in 2009 at the same time as I was a Les Mills group fitness addict. I would maybe once a week go for a run by the creek near my house. I remember the first time I made it from my house to the end of the creek path – about 2km – and I was ecstatic. Then one day I made it to the end and back and I was thrilled!
This is how I taught myself to run – no fancy apps, no training plans, no run for a bit walk for a bit – I just laced up my shoes and ran. The best advice I ever received from a fellow runner was this – don’t stop, just keep running, no matter how slow. I still keep this in mind especially on my long runs.
Later in the year a workmate – who had started to run – and I decided to enter the women’s fun run and have a crack at the 5km event. It was winter and I had barely been running but was still Les Mills obsessed and was still fairly fit. About once a week we would get out and attempt to run the course.
I was so nervous on the day of the race and managed to complete the course in just over 30:00. I was chuffed and so proud of myself. I now run 5km faster than that (24:12 current PB) but it is still one of my most proudest moments because it was my beginning. The memory of seeing The Boy parked up along the course to cheer me on still gives me joy.
After that I ran every now and then but didn’t really keep it up as I was still focused on going to group fitness classes – I was even thinking about becoming an instructor.
The following year I moved to the city away from my fiancé and family. I joined the gym and decided to run the City2Surf 12km event. A bit ambitious seeing as I had all but stopped running but I felt the 4km would be too easy and I love a good challenge.
My training went as follows – I ran a total of four times three weeks before the day with my longest run being 8km. Mind you I was doing a lot of cardio at the gym just no running.
Race day came around and I was so nervous! My fiancé and his BFF decided to join me – they had zero training. I finished in about 1:24:00. It now takes me no more than an hour to run the same distance.
After C2S I decided the following year I would run the half-marathon – it was time to get serious about running. The decision to get serious was made easier when I stupidly lost my license (don’t drink and drive!) and had to cancel my gym membership. I had no choice but to use my legs as a mode of transport.
I started to run about three times per week. I was fairly slow and had no idea what I was doing but as always I just ran and I loved it.
Then I got pregnant. When I found out, the first thing I did – after telling my fiancé of course – was lace up my shoes and pound the pavement for 6km. I ran sporadically throughout my pregnancy until it got too sore.
Once the curly-haired monster was born I got back into it again. Less than a month after he was born I jumped on the treadmill (have not been on a dreadmill since) and holy hell was it hard. However I had a goal – to run the Surf to Surf 10km in October – just four months after I gave birth.
As you can imagine trying to train when you have a newborn and breastfeeding on demand was tough. I was only running once maybe twice per week but was determined to run this race. Whenever I was training and felt like giving up I just kept reminding myself how I managed to survive three days of labour and gave birth drug-free. I still remind myself of this when the going gets tough. I ended up finishing it in 1:04:31. My current 10km PB is just under 50:00.
Since then I have ran the Australia Day Fun Run 10km, HBF Run for a Reason 12km and my first-ever half-marathon in April. Now I am training for another half-marathon – the one I missed out on in 2011 City2Surf – and one month later I am aiming to complete my first-ever full marathon.
Now instead of running I train. I have transitioned from casual runner to training athlete and I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever be doing anything like this.
I used to be a smoker, I used to binge drink every weekend and ate all kinds of crap.
Now I rarely drink more than two glasses of wine at a time, I admittedly do have the odd cigarette usually when I have gone over my two glass limit and I make conscious decisions about the food – fuel – I put into my body. Instead of spending my Saturday mornings hungover I head outside and run for more than an hour and a half – rain, hail or shine.
I have met some amazing people through running and we all support each other on what most call our crazy journeys. I also have a running mentor who has made me believe anything is possible if I put my mind to it. I have even joined the local runners club.
Running has changed me. It’s changed me for the better. I am the healthiest and fittest I have ever been in my entire life and I am also a stronger person mentally. For the first time in my life I believe in myself. That self-defeating natter has been replaced with a can-do attitude.
I don’t like to talk about it because quite frankly it makes me uncomfortable but I have dealt with insomnia and anxiety for at least 14 years and running is the only thing which helps turn that relentless, restless part of my brain off. When I am running all the anxiety disappears and I just don’t care anymore. I can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack and I know it’s because of my running. It’s also cheaper than therapy.
Running gives my life focus and it gives me time to focus on me. And the things I have learned from being a runner – strength, determination and courage – have crossed over into other facets of my life. I am more confident than ever, am much better at my job and am setting an example for the Curly-Haired Monster. I think it has made me a better partner and mother too. Nothing seems too tough for me at this point.
I know this will read like a self-indulgent piece of codswallop to many of you but for all of those people who keep telling me how crazy I am or keep asking me why I run – this is why. To those who want to run but keep using the excuse that they can’t – I am telling you, you can. Just run.