Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How the couch potato became a runner

When I think back to school PE lessons, I was.......OK.  Not Paula Radcliffe but not a snail either!  I often competed in sports day events such as the 200m and did 'OK' - 2nd or 3rd place maybe, but never won anything.  In high school I competed in the 15oom a couple of times more out of peer pressure than an actual love of the distance and always did terribly!  After leaving school I was more interested in alcohol, boys and then later on married life, children, work etc!  I don't think I really considered the fact that I needed to do some exercise until just after I hit the big 3-0.  I suddenly realised that I couldn't keep shovelling chocolate, wine and all things unhealthy into my body without noticing the physical effect I was getting fat!

P was already into running and did the odd race here and there.  He subscribed to the 'Runners World' magazine and on odd occasions I'd pick one up and have a read.  I was surprised to find that it wasn't all about super svelte ultra marathon runners but there were also a lot of articles for novice runners or complete beginners.  From reading the magazines I then found the 'Runners World' website which was not only packed with really useful info but also the most fantastic forum.

The most important advice I could give to anyone new to running would be :

1. Make sure you're physically fit and get a check-up with the Doctor

2. Get fitted with the correct running shoes

3. Take it slowly!

When I say take it slowly, I mean TAKE IT SLOWLY!  It's so tempting once you're all kitted out with your brand new running trainers, gps watch, bright yellow lycra bodysuit etc etc to think you have the physical ability to match your new gear!  Unfortunately, stamina and strength can't be purchased at the nearest sports store ............. you have to work at it!

Remembering back, for my first attempt I intended to follow a plan I'd found through Runners World which was basically to Walk 1 min / Jog 1 min repeated 5 times.  Believe me at this point in my running career I could barely manage that 1 min jog!  Although not overweight, I couldn't believe how physically unfit I had become.  This was going to be hard!  I felt I looked such a fool to the general passer-by, never-the-less, I stuck with it, gradually increasing the length of time I jogged rather than walked and before I knew it I could jog constantly for 10 minutes without any sign of a walk!

Since then my running has continued, although I do have the occasional break (which I know I shouldn't!).  Unfortunately, I do find that when I have even the shortest break of a few weeks my fitness plummets in no time at all and then I have to work back up to the level I'd got to.  I've done a few races such as the 5k Race for Life series, the 5k Hydro Active Challenge in Birmingham, the Great Manchester Run (10k) and also the Evesham 10k.  At my best I could run for an hour without stopping.  You cannot explain to a non-runner the sense of acheivement you get from completing a race such as these, especially when you know the work you've put in to get you there.

[caption id="attachment_298" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Race for Life - Sutton Park"][/caption]

Even now, I know I'm not what you'd call 'a natural born runner' but I do the best I can with what I've been given :).  In fact, in runner's terms I'm what you'd call a 'plodder'!  All I have to keep in mind is even the slightest amount of 'plodding' is better for me than sitting on my bum watching TV!


  1. Oh my goodness it's like you've read my mind! I'm not a natural runner at all but have been trying when I go to the gym. I'm not up to running on the pavement confidence yet (always feel like people are going to be looking at me going "Oh my god how weird does she run?!"). When I first ran for a mile without stopping I nearly choked on the excitement of it all. What I need to really do now is work on my endurance and stamina, and actually went on the runner's world website a couple of weeks ago - the plan is to aim for a 5km race at some point in 2011.

    And oh my goodness I know what you mean about your fitness disappearing. I haven't been able to run for a couple of weeks because I've hurt my foot and I'm dreading getting back on the treadmill because I know I won't make it 1km without having to stop!

  2. I'm sure I look most peculiar when I run but I don't let that stop me! I've tried treadmill running but I just get bored too quickly. It's always been endurance and stamina that's my issue too and still is! I'm not sure if I can run a 5k now without stopping as I've just had too much of a break. I must motivate myself to get back to it and will keep my progress posted on here. Good luck with your training too and let me know if you enter a race x