When I was younger, Dad used to write me notes to get out of Cross Country – not because there was any kind of medical reason for it, he just took pity on me because he knew I hated it. And I mean, really hated it.
I remember when I was in primary school, I decided I would run the Grassam Trophy – a simple 800m run but I remember what a big deal it was for me to sign up. I ummed and ahh’d about it for ages and eventually found the courage to do it. It was a big deal for me, despite the fact it was only 800m. And while I was running it quite slowly, one of the teachers told me he didn’t know I was bothering, because I obviously wasn’t trying.
Since then, I pretty much went on strike when it came to running, refusing to even jog across the road and convincing myself that I couldn’t run. “I’m not built for running,” “I have a dicky hip,” “I’d rather swim” are all things I’ve said in the past, along with “do I look like the sort of girl that runs?” (The answer to this is still no).
But as part of #25at25, my good friend Alison set me the challenge of running the 5k Color Run when it hits the UK later this year. Dubbed the world’s happiest 5k, I thought this sounded like the sort of run I could probably get on board with. The premise is simple. You start dressed in all white, and as you’re running powder paint is thrown at you, a bit like the Hindu religious Holi Festival of Colour in India an Nepal, the idea being that by the time you’ve finished the run, you’re covered from head to toe in bright colours. Amazing right? I’ve always wanted to go to the Holi festival, and this seemed like a great introduction.
So on Boxing Day, before I was struck down with a sickness bug that massively hindered my visit home, I went out for a run. Having downloaded the Couch to 5k app, as recommended by a colleague and friend, and having picked up a pretty basic pair of running trousers from Sports Direct, I headed out for the first voluntary run of my entire life. And do you know what? It wasn’t hideous. If I’m being honest with myself, I actually kind of enjoyed it. Since that first run, I’ve been out a few times since, and I’ve enjoyed those too.
Couch to 5K is a super simple app. It walks you through a running program that gradually builds up as your fitness increases. It’s a steady increase too, instructing you through phases of warming up, walking, running and cooling down at various intervals until you can run 5k in around 35 minutes, after about 9 weeks. For the first time in my life, I really feel like that 5k is achievable. Maybe even enjoyable. And I’m tempted to keep going and run a 10k later in the year too.
Surprisingly, I quite like the solitude of running. Maybe I’m still in the Honeymoon period, but I enjoy putting my headphones in and getting my mind elsewhere for a while, so music is key for me. I’m currently really enjoying The Workout Mix 2013 which I also listen to when I’m swimming. Part of the appeal of this album for me, other than the awesome tunes that I’d probably avoid when not exercising, is the continuous mix. No skipping tracks, no fumbling around with my iPod when something I don’t like comes on. It’s just straight music.
As far as kit goes, I’m keeping things pretty simple with a pair of running leggings (with a trusty back pocket for my phone), a solid pair of trainers and a cracking sports bra, the benefits of which are inestimable. I picked up a running pocket from Sweastshop too (£5) to keep my phone in on my arm if I feel that way inclined.
At the moment, I’m covering about 2 miles in 30 minutes, which I’m pleasantly surprised with, but I’m really hoping that this is something that’s going to improve.
Thanks for the challenge Alison – I think you’ve sparked a new passion for me, and afterall, isn’t that kind of what this whole debacle is about?