I've always been quite an active person. I love walking, I dance frequently, and to relax I will happily do an hour of yoga or pilates. Occasionally I also do aerobics and though I've never been a fan of cardio exercise, I know it's important for overall health and wellbeing. I'd always liked the idea of running, but hated the reality of it, until fairly recently.
My experience of running has always been horrendous. I can't breathe, I get a stitch, my legs hurt, I don't enjoy the process at all. I remember my mum saying to me that you reach a point with running where it feels as if you could just keep going forever, and I have to say, I didn't think I'd ever reach that point. I thought I'd document here the start of my experience with running and how I have actually improved at it over the last six months or so.
I really started thinking about getting into running when I changed jobs, and about a year into my new job I was finding that the transition from my previous work (retail - being on my feet all day) to my new work (sedentary, sitting at a desk) was affecting my energy levels and my posture. It was early summer, and actually the thought of getting out from behind the desk and away from the computer and going for a run in the evening was quite a pleasant one. I started off with a very short distance - just about around the block which probably took about 15 minutes. I couldn't complete this distance without taking at least three breaks; I felt if I didn't, my legs would lock up and my chest would just about burst. Even so, this short distance would leave me red faced and dripping with sweat, and despite only running twice a week, the following couple of days I would be absolutely stiff as a board, even after stretching out. I also found that my shins were very uncooperative and I really suffered with shin splints for the first few months of my running regime.
Gradually I began to increase the distances I ran. Firstly, my aim was to get around the block without stopping, so I managed to drop the break points down one by one until I could complete this short distance without having to stop. It's always been more about distance than speed, for me; I am not a quick runner but to be able to cover a length without stopping was a huge achievement for me. Using my iPod's health feature was another eye-opener; suddenly here was something that informed me how far I'd run, whether I was halfway through my distance, and when I'd completed it. To that end, I set myself the challenge to run 3k, which seemed impossible to me, and when I finally reached that distance I was so pleased with myself! From there, I realised (after a month or so of running a 3k distance) that my mum was right - I could just keep going. So I did, and ran 5k.
I would never have ever believed that this was something that I could ever achieve; running 5k without stopping was actually beyond my goals and it pushed me on to do more. From 5, I aimed for 7, and on the day I'd set myself to run 7 I actually ended up running 10k; just because I felt like I had it in my legs. The more I ran, the less my shins hurt and the easier the recovery phase was. I really felt that I'd (excuse the pun) hit my stride and I quite began to enjoy running in the morning sunshine, taking a look at the world around me.
I think the great thing about running is that you really don't need to spend a fortune on equipment or fancy gear to have a good go at it. I run in leggings and a novelty t shirt that Adrian bought me for a joke. I am often overtaken by very serious looking ladies head to toe in Sweaty Betty, and I would definitely consider picking up some 'proper' running gear but I definitely don't think it's a requirement, and only after 6 months or so of continued running am I now thinking about buying a couple of things - I'd like a pair of the leggings with a zip pocket on the back to put my key in, instead of clipping it to my bra strap, and perhaps a nice zip-up style jacket as a winter layer, but overall, there's not really much I feel I need. A good pair of trainers are essential - I have been loving these Skechers ones which have a memory foam insole for added comfort.