Running… unless you are one of the rare few who was great at running at school and just carried on running into adulthood (are there any of you out there?) the chances are, at some point you had to start running. Something made you put on your trainers and decide to go for a run.
'Why do you run?' Is a question I get asked quite frequently. Like your favourite song, book or film, I find the answer a moveable feast, and it’s never simple.
In my case six years ago my lazy, smoking, bottle of wine glugging self decided to try and be a bit healthier. When I started running it was in gym shoes (I didn’t own running shoes) and the driver was me feeling monstrously lethargic, unhealthy, past it (at 35), squidgy, and being skint I couldn’t afford a gym.
That was six years ago. My brother had signed up for a marathon and cajoled me into a half marathon. It gave me a goal. One loop of a local playing field without stopping was my start. Six years, many (many) miles and lots of races later, here I am with far too many actual running trainers. Without doubt, that very first run was one of the best decisions of my life.
The road to running
The journey as a new runner to an experienced runner is not easy; there are bumps along the way. When you start, it feels so difficult. Progress seems slow. Everyone else seems faster and better. Some days you just want to go home and eat mashed potatoes and sit on the sofa.
Those days are the hard ones, and some days it's easy to cave in and just not run. If you decide not to run and opt for an evening eating mashed potato instead, don’t feel bad, it’s OK. We all have those days. I’m sitting here writing this on a day I’ve not bothered running.
There are days when, for some unidentifiable reason, everything is so much harder. Each mile seems more difficult than it was last time, and it can feel like you are going backwards not progressing. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This happens to us all, it’s perfectly normal. And in fact those are the days when it really counts. You pushed through regardless so YAY to you!
When I started running I spent goodness knows how many months wondering when I would become an actual runner (often pondered when running along) not realising I WAS one.
That first race terrified me to my very core. Standing on the start line (still in my gym shoes) wondering if I could even walk 13 miles. Everyone else looked so READY, everyone looked like a RUNNER. Should I just go home now?
I didn’t. I ran and ran and it hurt a bit and I carried on running. Slowly, but purposefully towards that first finish line, trying my absolute best not to stop. Crossing the finish line was the most wondrous feeling! I had RUN 13 miles! I literally could not believe it. It made me feel invincible (wincing walking up and down the kerbs).
A real runner
That first medal made me realise that I had been a runner all along, from the moment I decided to get out the door and run round that field. The same as everyone else on the start line, they all had to start somewhere.
If you run round the local field, you are a runner, the same as those who run half marathons, marathons or more.
You might be embarking on a new run journey, or your first marathon. If you ever have those days when you are having a bad run day, just think that everyone started somewhere, and who knows where this running journey will take you!
Susie Chan is an endurance runner, who competes in some of the world's toughest ultra-marathons and endurance races. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or read about her races on her blog susie-chan.com