After years of threatening to do so, I have finally taken up running as my primary form of exercise. And do you know what? I’m enjoying it loads more than I thought I would! So, why have I done it now? Well, I guess it’s a combination of the following factors:
- I appreciate that I need to exercise but I hate gyms – like, HATE them. I don’t like not being able to get a space in the classes I want to go to, I don’t like being in the gym itself when you just want to get on the treadmill/cross trainer/rowing machine (delete as appropriate) but can’t because they’re all taken, which inevitably results in me sloping off home in an annoyed, defeated slump, and I certainly don’t like chucking £30+ a month down the drain when I just don’t end up going to the gym at all;
- I like the idea of exercising outdoors – especially in summer – and going on a mini adventure as I exercise, rather than looking at a TV screen or the row of bums on the treadmills in front of me as I slog away, has begun to appeal to me more and more;
- After taking part in the Race for Life 5k runs for the past two years in a row with friends, I have grown to like the idea of setting myself a personal challenge, and one which means I can raise money for a good cause at the same time.
So, after a few months of stop/start attempts to run regularly, I have recently fallen into a routine where I factor running into my week and so far, so good! My goal for 2015 is to run a 10k and so to ensure I actively work towards this goal and don’t let it slide, I recently signed up to the Great Yorkshire Run in my home city of Sheffield on September 27 – this should be enough time to work towards a 10k standard!
I’ve found the RunKeeper app to be great for logging my activities and tracking my very slow but steady progress. I’m currently running one, maybe two times mid-week and I tend to run along the river near my home. I’m hoping the lighter nights will mean that I can up the frequency of my mid-week runs as I’ll be no longer dashing to get home and changed before darkness falls.
Another great discovery I’ve made is Parkrun, the free, weekly 5km timed running craze that is sweeping the UK – and the world! To be honest, I’m pretty late to the Parkrun party as it’s been a popular Saturday morning activity for many people for quite some time. I attended my first Parkrun – the Sheffield Hallam one – in November 2013 when I really hadn’t done much running at all. I came 20th from the end out of 480 people, I found it pretty hard and I wasn’t massively inspired to do it again any time soon. In 2014, despite doing Race for Life and attempting a few runs with a friend throughout the summer months, I only made it to one Parkrun – this time at Hillsborough Park. I fared better than my previous attempt and felt more motivated to do it again but life just gets in the way sometimes and 9am on a Saturday morning can seem frighteningly early when you have Friday night plans that involve eating, drinking and not going to bed at a reasonable hour.
Recently however, as my confidence in my running abilities has grown slightly, I’ve made some time to go along to my local Parkrun at Hillsborough Park more regularly and I am loving it! I’ve managed to get a personal best (PB) time for the past two weeks and last Saturday, the nervous excitement I experienced as I waited for the results from the run to come in really surprised me. I’m not at all competitive with other people and have no desire to run faster than anyone else but I have discovered that I am really determined to improve and beat my own time week on week. A 9am start on a Saturday morning is early and there are going to be times when I’ll miss the run due to other reasons, but the sense of wellbeing I’ve experienced after my recent Parkruns – feeling energised after a great bit of exercise and knowing the whole weekend still lay ahead – is amazing.
I love the supportive, community vibe at Parkrun, and the support even continues away from the park. Upon discovering that I had recently begun going along to Parkrun and had achieved two PBs, a colleague of mine who attends another Parkrun made me a little award to celebrate my PB! It turns out that she does this for all colleagues who achieve PBs and I love this, so much so that I am sharing the love and giving the sweet little awards to a couple of friends of mine who have been going to Parkrun and beaten their best times recently.
I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to running and I’m hoping I can keep this momentum going as a sustainable form of exercise. Who knows, after my first 10k I may be driven to push myself further, but I’m making no plans yet!
Watch this space…
I’m very much inspired in my new activity by a good friend of mine who has changed her life dramatically over recent years and running has become a big part of it for her. In my next blog post, published on Friday, she will be speaking about her amazing journey and this will be sure to inspire other people who are new to running and exercise in general. It’s an inspirational story not to be missed!
This post is linked up to: