Three years ago, you wouldn’t have caught me running for a bus. And where I live (hello, surburbia) they only come once an hour, so you’d be mad not to run. Mad, I tell you. Still not running.
Running was just something I’d never contemplated. Actually, that’s not strictly true. When my Personal Trainer Sarah Craven had suggested that I register for a small event when we first started working together the year before, I did, of course, think about it.
For about a nano second.
And I came to the conclusion that it was something I’d never do. I did not/could not run. I never had and I never would. And I was already over 40 for heavens sakes. Old dog, new tricks? Nah.
Not only that, I just couldn’t understand why anyone wanted to do these ‘fun runs’ or races or whatever. I just couldn’t fathom it out.
So we left it at that. Sorry, Sarah.
Fast forward around 12 months, the week before Mother’s Day 2013 (which is early May here in Australia), and my husband asked me what I wanted to do on the day.
Ordinarily, I would have replied ‘sleep in, breakfast in bed, cuddles from my boy, no housework and a box of chocolates please’.
Only this year was different. It was different because I had lost my own beautiful Mum to cancer that year. So there was definitely going to be something bittersweet about Mother’s Day this time around. The enormous sense of loss and emptiness was building up all over again, the anticipation of the day was almost unbearable. I was in tears a lot.
So I wasn’t feeling like doing anything decadent. I felt a longing to do something different, something worthwhile. But I had no idea what.
And then I saw an ad for the Mothers Day Classic Run/Walk for Breast Cancer that’s held all over Australia on that day every year. And I thought, that’s what I want to do. I want to do something to honour my own Mum, something that helps other mums and daughters who have been touched by cancer, something that is doing me some good too.
So I signed up to participate with less than a week to go until the event. I put out an open invitation on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join me. A newish friend, Sally was really the only one who put her hand up for the same event – the 4kms. She was younger and fitter, but like me was not yet ‘a runner’. So we thought it’d work quite well.
Then my husband and son signed up too, quite the party, huh? Our son was 4, so we thought we would just dust down his old buggy and hubby could push him along while Sally and I ran together.
I was pretty excited and very nervous. I felt very happy and comforted in my decision, despite it meaning getting up at around 4am on Mothers’ Day ugh.
Then I realised I wasn’t sure if I could actually run 4kms, since I’d never tried it. So about 5 days before the event, we measured out 4kms in the car, and I got out and ran back (yep, that’s right, I didn’t yet have an app for that).
I was elated to discover that I could actually do it without keeling over. Phew! That was a huge boost. Actually, I’ll never forget that day, and it just so happened to be Mum’s birthday, too.
And on the actual race day Sally and I ran the course in around 21 minutes, not bad for newbies. So many emotions running through my body that day. Obviously, there was a lot of sadness, but I absolutely knew Mum would have been overwhelmed with pride and joy seeing me do something like this for the first time in my life. And I was proud of myself too.
And at that point I decided this was not a one-off. That for as long as I was able, I would run or walk or hobble this course every Mothers’ Day.
And I suppose it was at that point that I became ‘a runner’.
I downloaded an app and started to track my pace and distances. I added a little extra distance on every time (not too much as my dodgy knees are an ongoing concern). About 500m each week or so, and I’d run a couple of times a week.
I started to feel enormous sense of achievement with the extra kms added and the pace quickening. I loved the sense of freedom that running gives you, unlike any other cardio exercise I had tried before.
I loved being outdoors in the fresh air, the sunshine, the rain, whatever… I loved being alone for that time. Listening to music or just arranging thoughts. Checking out the scenery, discovering new tracks. Oh, and ‘runners’ high’, I loved that. The feeling at the end of the run (after I’ve caught my breath), where your lungs just feel full of clean lovely oxygen and all those endorphins are whizzing through your body, little agents of happiness. Just brilliant. Running was my new ‘thing’.
Before long Sarah suggested I do a 10km race. I think at that point I may have been running about 6kms or 7kms max and was finding that tough. 10kms seemed unattainable but I registered for the Rebel Run Sydney event at Homebush, upped the ante on the training, and did that too (55 mins 36 secs). Even managed to raise over $4,000 for Beyond Blue.
After that event, because it was just for fun and not training for a specific race my love of running got stronger and stronger. So I just kept on running, call me Forrest if you will.
I ran the Mothers Day Classic again last year (in under 20 minutes woohoo, thanks to hubby and son running along side me pushing me all the way, could NOT have done that without them). And the Nike She Runs the Night event at Centennial Park (can’t find my precise time, but I think it was about 54 ½ mins). That was a fun event. C-c-c-c-c-c-cold but fun.
With all the other training I do now, running has kind of fallen off my regular schedule as of late. And when I do go out (about once a fortnight), my pace is much slower than it was a year ago and I’ve not run more than 7kms since last May.
So it’s time to set some goals to give me a bit of a kick up the backside:
- To run the Mothers Day Classic 4kms in under 20 mins alone (I mean without hubby by my side, as this year, he’ll hang back and run/walk with the little man, so I won’t have him shouting at me up that last little hill haha – without him there last time, I think I would have just sat down and cried for a bit!).
- To run 10kms in 53 minutes
- To sort out my technique
These goals scare me. I’m not yet sure if I can achieve them but I’ll give it my best shot. I will prioritise running again, and go out more often.
I will join a running group to help me with my form and get some tips on how to improve it (seriously, it could not be any worse). I will register for those events so I have no choice haha!
For some, these goals may seem unrealistic, for others too easy. But that’s the point, I’ve set them to challenge myself and myself only.
At the age of 41, without any previous experience, I ran my first 4kms and then my first 10kms. Then I did the same last year, and will hopefully do the same this year. And so my point is, if I can do it, anyone can. It’s just helpful to set yourself some goals so that you have something to work towards, something to motivate you when it’s dark or cold or wet and you don’t want to go out. If you’re training for something, you can do it. Anyone can do it.
Anyone can become a runner.
You just need to lace up and start.
Run/walk if you have to, to begin with. Start slow, start short. Build up gradually, you will get there. A 6 minute kilometer is as far as a 3 minute kilometer. It doesn’t matter how you go, you’re still out there, doing it, you’re still running.
And if you are running, you are a runner.
So, yes! I am a runner. And like many good things in my life, I have my Mum to thank for that too.