You may have seen over on my social media that I've teamed up with Human Race Events to give one of you the chance to run in the London Winter 10k. If you haven't seen it yet you can check it out here. I was given a free brief to launch the competition and so it got me thinking. What was it about running that made me run? Why do I and thousands of others across the world regularly lace up our trainers and go out for a run? More importantly how to those who run explain to those who don't run why we love it so much and why they should try it too? This post is for those who run - let me know why you do - and for those who don't - I hope to inspire to you join the club.
How I began
When I was at school I ran the 1500m for my school in a few local athletics meets. I like to think that I might have shared the stadium with Jess Ennis-Hill she's a Sheffield girl and the same age as me (that's pretty much where the similarities end). I used to run cross-country too and despite the Sheffield hills I loved it. However, if someone had asked me then if I was a runner I'd have said no.
I didn't start running until I was at university. I was in my first year and I was overwhelmed. I was really homesick and no-one seemed to get me. The northern thing seemed to matter more than it ever had before and suddenly being a chatty blonde northerner in a lecture theatre full of international law students I felt way out of my depth. I went to the gym and I remember completing my workout and sitting on the mat and still feeling anxious. Then without any route planning or preparation I went for a run. It was mid-afternoon and I headed down the South Bank (I went to uni in London and lived near Waterloo Station). I started running and kept going. I ran and I ran until I ran out of bridges. I crossed Tower Bridge and ran home on the other side. I remember loving the whole thing. My mind had time to chill out a bit and my body relaxed too. I remember going out every day for the next few days (until my body hurt too much from the new exercise to continue). One night things were feeling overwhelming again. I laced up my trainers and headed West along the South Bank. I remember telling my mum that I'd run past Parliament and that there were police there with guns (I was new to London and city life) and she told me I should stick to day time running. Of course I didn't listen and night time running became my thing. I was worried about people seeing how slow I was and how everything jiggled when I ran and my bright red beetroot face, so I stuck to the dark.
Keeping on running
When I moved up to Newcastle I used to run round the Town Moor in the dark too. I absolutely love it and if you haven't tried it you should. Running in the rain is okay too you know, providing you can go home afterwards and get a hot shower.
I ran my first half marathon in Newcastle too, the Great North Run, which I've previously blogged about here. I realised then that I preferred running in the countryside and not pounding the pavements. I also realised that another reason I love running is that no matter how fast you are running is a sport where you can toe the start line which Olympic athletes and run the same course in the same conditions. I actually love that I'll never be the fastest runner. For someone who is massively competitive it helps me to enjoy running to know that I just have to beat me and my fastest time to get a PB. I did once win a trophy. I was the second female in a trail race in Berwick-upon-Tweed. I had no idea I was fast enough to place but that Sheffield cross-country training from years ago stood me in good stead and I was up and down the hills like a gazelle (I'm totally exaggerating, I was as hot and sweaty and red as ever but my enjoyment of running in the countryside helped and somehow I made it to the finish in a fast time).
I still use running as a time to think things through. My little sister Boo and I agree that it helps us keep the crazy away, by which we mean it gives us time to think things through without actually thinking about things at all. I'm naturally full of energy and sometimes the corporate world doesn't need that so I like to run in a morning to ensure I can be focussed when I'm at work. I enjoy running with friends as a way to chat and catch up and exercise. I love running without my Garmin and I of course I love running with my side-kick Gatsby (more on our first run together another time).
So there you have it, my running journey. I'd love to hear about your road to running and what you're training for now. Don't forget to enter the competition for the London Winter 10k and when you get a moment check out the other Human Event Races that are available in the U.K. and Switzerland!
Ps I hope you like the photos they're some of my favourite running memories and evidence of my red blotchy face.