So she said “You can write. Write about how to get into running!” And just ‘away you go’ then. How to get into running… How to get INTO running…? Why is she asking me? I’m not a runner. Well, I run, I do now anyway, but it’s only a fairly recent thing and, oh my God, running with a number pinned to your shirt? Forget it! Ugh, the gym? Running? Back to bed and under the duvet, I think. But that was part of how it started, my impetus. I was caught, as many are in their 30s and 40s, in a state of lethargy, an almost permanent state of morose finding just getting out of bed to face opening the front door an every day struggle. The Stress Diet had worked it’s magic and my weight had plummeted, but now I looked and felt like a dogs breakfast. The thing was, I didn’t want it to keep happening. I didn’t want it to be my every day. I had to get out and break it. I felt that I was staring up at a huge wall that I had no way of ever getting over. But it was either hit the wall or go down without complaint, and I wasn’t ready to go down. I had to let the fighter out. So I looked out a pair of paint splattered hill walking trainers, a pair of football shorts from the 90s and an old t shirt. But there was surely something on tv. Bargain Hunt, Homes Under the Hammer… Oh, then Wanted Down Under. Oh, and you can’t miss Jeremy Kyle when you flick on and see some tattoo covered delight shouting into someone’s face “At the end of the day Jeremy…!” Nauseating, but somehow compelling. Lunchtime. Can’t run now, even if I’d wanted to. Afternoon movie with Charlton Heston about him as as a Union officer fighting the indians, or a black and white 1950s movie about the Americans fighting the Japanese. SO many adverts! Flicking through channels, Michael Parkinson telling me I could get a free pen just for enquiring. Or getting the compensation that I apparently deserved! Ah, Nazis on Discovery. And tea time. Did I go running? No, I didn’t have time… So, the NEXT day. Brown hill walking trainers, shorts and t shirt on, I sat down to Bargain Hunt. NO! Only *I* was going to make this happen. I could go there and then and still be back in time for Loose Women! So I dragged myself off the sofa, reluctantly switched off the tv and stepped into the outdoors… It was sunny. No excuse. Through town, around the church up the hill thingy, back through town and home. Easy. So off I went. I got to the end of the street and wasn’t sure that I’d make it. I was surely going to go down into a ditch by the side of the road and I’d be buried where I lay. My legs were stiff and ached and I was breathing heavily. Shorts were too tight and long sleeves on my t shirt were irritating my arms. I wanted to stop. But people in their cars would see my abject failure. Sports injury! As convincing as “the dog ate it” or “my alarm didn’t go off”. No option. Keep going. And I did, one foot plodding after the next. Then you find that those little bumps you drive in your car become mountain like trails, they’re so very long and so very up. Then relief with a little down before another lengthy up. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but surely it took a thousand years at this rate! Yet one foot in front of another got me home again. And with it, the first sense of accomplishment.
Today, a couple of years later, Fat Pete at work always complains that he’s too fat. And he eats loads of fruit! And fried chicken and lasagne and corned beef and sausage rolls and pasties and biscuits and doughnuts… My boss has been fat, got thin and is now happily getting fatter again. Dan is lean and fit and hardly touches food. I’m getting a little sick of shredded wheat and protein shakes, even if I do mix them up with berries and bananas. But now my mind has changed. We have the weight loss talks where Fat Pete tells us he wants to lose weight, but nothing changes. He just eats fruit now, on top of his lard diet. The plump office ‘do gooder’ defends him, “leave him alone, everyone’s different”. But that’s just it. In THAT respect, we’re NOT different, we’re all the same. We all face that fight of losing weight and getting fit, and it’s the same for ALL of us. It HAS to start in our heart and mind. We must have the WANT to change our lifestyles. Diets don’t work, ok… DIETS… DO. NOT. WORK! Lifestyle changes, however, DO! But this is where the mind is a brilliant thing. Because from when I looked up meekly at that high, impossible wall, I’ve now hit it, I’m on it and thoroughly enjoying the difficulties it throws at me. Sometimes you fall back down, but you can always climb back up. Your mind adapts to what it’s being given. If you want to live like a slob, your mind lives like a slob. If you want to live bitter and angry, then your mind will stay bitter and angry. But from that first twenty minute struggle around my town, I’ve bought decent trainers, decent shorts, music to run to, and an app for my phone, Endomondo, which times, measures and maps my routes. I planned my routes, drove them in my car and ran them. I measure my kilometres against distance and try to keep every one under six minutes. I was running every second day, I was finding the longest, steepest hills to run because I was CRAVING it and before the days got dark too early I was doing 10 miles in under two hours. Then, when it got too dark too early, I joined a gym. I’d beast myself on the cross trainer, the rowing machine, bike and runner and I’d go twice round. But now the days are longer, I’m back out and beating the country roads. Beautiful spring smells, crisp clean air, new leaves on the trees. I’m looking forward to the summer when I’ll have my shirt off in the country lanes and singing US Marine running cadences, so I forget the monotony and love the run. The sun is lovely, but the rain is great. All weathers. You achieve, you’re fit, you’re sharp, you look good and nothing is insurmountable. You enjoy the stiffness on your legs after a long one the day before and you feel great for it. Better still, you enjoy shopping for clothes. Gone are all your old sack cloths, now you love buying medium sized shirts, even small and you feel GREAT! You know that point that you had when you’ve done enough and want to give up? You’ll look forward to that now just so you can enjoy the feeling of punching right through it. And if you go somewhere for a few days where you can’t run, you get itchy feet. Take your trainers when you go on holiday! I don’t eat chocolate, biscuits, burgers or crap now because my body craves getting fitter and stronger. It’s not like I have to fight temptation because my mind has totally tuned to it too. I enjoy NOT eating rubbish, I WANT to eat Shredded Wheat and protein shakes, I WANT to run. And then you feel your upper body is missing out. So you go to the gym and the same thing happens there. I haven’t watched Jeremy Kyle or Wanted Down Under for about two years. I don’t have time or the inclination. I’m loving losing weight, I’m loving taking shape, I’m loving what I’m becoming. I want to do half marathons and I want to do Tough Mudders now, I want the cold, muddy water, the exhaustion and the elation. I look back on Endomondo at the runs I did in Brazil and Poland, on the beaches near Salvador or around Stalag Luft III. Now I want to run the Great Wall of China, do the Inca Trail and the foothills of the Himalayas so I can feel another lever of chest bursting achievement. The feelings of lethargy and morose are long gone. Dead. I stepped up to that wall and now I hit it like a rodeo rider on a bull, with everything I have, no matter what it throws at me. It’s POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re probably right. And today I can. Because now, because yesterday, today and tomorrow, I AM a runner.
All credited to Nick, a wonderful writer and whom put my poor attempt to shame