So this week I started my new running training. Honestly, it’s been a while… I am a runner and I run frequently. But these days I run as when and for however long I fancy, usually for work. I don’t bother with the Garmin most days really unless it’s a newish route. I know my average comfy commuter pace is no more than 10 min miles so if I get to work earlier doing 8 min miles, then grabbing a coffee is my treat. But it’s been well over 6 months since I’ve committed to any strict running training. I know logically between work commutes, popping out for a bimble in my spare time and running with my own run group, Team Wolfpack, the miles are in my legs. Since the start of the year my lowest weekly mileage has been 27 miles per week up to a max of 65 miles per week. This I’m happy with because I know every single mile was enjoyed. A couple of years ago it wasn’t the same story.
For the last few months I’ve felt more connected with my running than ever before. Through hard work I’m very privileged to work with running athletes as part of my job as a Fitness Instructor and Sports Therapist. I work as a run leader with beginners who have no idea they are brilliant runners yet, to the amateur athletes competing in their spare time building on their abilities in my fitness classes, all the way to competitive athletes in my Sports Injury Clinic who travel the world for their love of the sport. Amazing. I’m constantly reading up on how our biometrics, diet and general life affects us as athletes, because even as beginners we are athletes. It fascinates me to understand why being hydrated affects our energy systems, how feeding the body well by combining food to boost nutrient absorption can be paramount to that PB and just how much our stress levels can affect race day. With every client, I learn something new. I’m privlaged to be the ear during their Sports Therapy session to let their competition nerves unravel. I use every training technique I learn about to help get their body in the best shape possible ready for the big day. I aim to send them off feeling hopeful and renewed. The fact I get to do all this for a living is amazing.
Anyone who has the courage and strength to try a new sport, like running, inspires me. With the beginners we start off a little shy, nervous, unsure of what’s to come. Within 4 weeks they’ve got it and they’re off enjoying what’s they’ve worked so hard for. Never underestimate just how hard that first mile is for a new runner. So when we think about London Marathon in two days, this is our Everest!
During my childhood I didn’t have any role models, neither female or male. The people in my life were very different back then and being my only viewpoint I believed this is how life was. It took me nearly enough 30 years to work out how different life could be. When you think of role models the same names pop up; Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Kanye West (for some people) but they seem so far away. In athletics especially running you think of; Galen Rupp, Jesse Owens, Rodger Bannister, Sarah Reinertsen and one of my personal favourites, Kathrine Switzer. All with amazing backgrounds in overcoming the odds to achieve. But it’s only running, what’s the big deal…
The average marathon plan is 18 weeks with usually 500 miles so that’s 1,000,000 steps, just for one race! Just one medal, one day, one race. Why? Well the bottom line despite the; pain, tiredness, frustrations, energy, costs and time we endure, it makes us feel good. Isn’t that the whole point to life in general?
If someone had told me 4 years ago one day I would enjoy running I’d cry laughing. The people who contact me now interested in my 20to1 Running for Beginners course are just like I was; scared, excited, nervous and full of self doubts. But the ones who download the forms, fill them in, pay the fee and show up every week…they change. It’s gets uncomfortable, you’re tired, you’re feeling overheated and sweaty but something deep in your heart and mind says “keep going” or like I tell my guys…”just keep swimming…”
Had I known from a young age the story of Katherine Switzer and why, not just as a woman but as a survivor of life how much her bravery and courage changed our world, I maybe wouldn’t of felt like the plump girl no one ever picked in netball. When you read her story, and like she says direct from her own hand not the distorted media versions, you start understand her mentality. Why can’t anyone do anything they choose to put their mind to. It’s funny how in the Sports Injury Clinic I hear my clients ‘maranoia’ the fears that they may get attacked by a bear before the race or swallowed up by a sink hole. Even Katherine Switzer tells of her demon thoughts leading up to that chilly day in 1967. But yet these runners go from one Marathon straight to the next! It’s a choice of the first step, a mental decision to accept you want the achievement. When you feed this thinking to children it builds a sea of opportunities available to them far greater than celebs, social media or gadgets inspires.
When I decided to pack in my old job and take up my full time studies in fitness I was surrounded by shaking heads. Most of the people around me just didn’t get it. Why give up a good salary and years of experience just to learn from scratch how to work in a gym. Well working in a gym was never my intention. I wanted to know everything I’d never known before about a healthier version of myself. Every time I ate badly, smoked, drank alcohol, made bad choices it was all for exactly the same reasons, to feel good about myself. Years ago I realised that it took exactly the same amount of; money, energy, motivation and effort to keep me in an unhealthy lifestyle as it does to live a healthier version. No seriously, I actively found the money for bad food, I made time to watch every soap on tv, I made the effort to go out every weekend on a drunken mission and no one but me paid for my cigarettes. I now have a range of shoes for fitness, I have various training days I stick to and I choose to fuel my body well because I’ve learned about nutrition. It’s the exactly same efforts. I can only ever hope I may, in some small way, help to inspire others but honestly it’s not the main reason for what I do, it’s for me.
A few years ago I was on a training session with my running club. I was already tired from the first of the sprint reps we had been tasked to do. Bent over, gasping for air, I wondered why on earth I was putting myself through this when suddenly everyone around me jumped to their feet looking right. Like a gazelle, gracefully landing each foot as quiet as a mouse, in runs one of our clubs elite female athletes. Wow. At 5,2 I’ve always envied women with long legs but these went on forever and a six pack too. Wow. I had absolutely no idea who this was, being fairly new to club but I knew on first sight that if this was what running was about I would certainly keep going. Honestly, it was one of the first times I’d ever been star struck in real life. We all started on the next rep and off the elites went ahead. We all keep going behind and that’s when I started perking up my ears. “She’s done more marathons than anyone” “She trains every day like an Olympic athlete” “She’s done an Ironman!” Wow, and I didn’t even know what an Ironman was at that point. When you’re running it’s your mind that gives up quicker than your body. Feeling capable is one strength, feeling inspired is a whole other element. Whenever I run a ParkRun I’m always looking up to who is in front. They’re the ones I’m in view of, feeling inspired by and focused on. We forget that every single person behind us is also doing the same. Where as I used to feel insecure about who saw me running, now I trust at least one person could be looking and feeling inspired and that keeps me going. If I’m running with my skin out on show so I don’t overheat, others may start to feel more comfortable with their bodies too. When I’m doing the same training as our club elites, I feel even stronger and capable knowing I’m working to my best just like they are too.
Yesterday I was very lucky to speak with the club elite I’ve mentioned whilst I was working with a client. My client and I luckily got to hear a bit about her experience of recently running the Boston Marathon. I was excited for her to be running rightfully along with other inspiring athletes including Katherine Switzer. But what amazed me is as two of us were stood there in absolute awe of her Boston journey I realised she has no idea just how much she inspires all of us MORE than these historic ledgends. No disrespect to any athlete but I know whose biography I would love to read…hint…hint…get writing please!!!
If the phrase is “look and you shall find” I’m looking for inspiration everywhere. From the hard working Mum with three children who battles to make time to come to my fitness class to the single Dad’s who takes their children along to ParkRun, inspiring people are everywhere. They are all shapes and sizes, from all kinds of backgrounds, all with different circumstances, goals and achievements to help you realise your own potential. So next time you want to feel inspired…BE THE INSPIRATION!
So if I can help, here’s my inspiration. On 18/10/2014 I did my first official ParkRun. On my own, wearing more layers than a Russian doll and as unhappy as a puppy in a pet shop window. Not my best moment. I only have the photos to prove this thanks to another fabulous woman who inspires me, our gorgeous ParkRun photographer, Karen Newton. In the past I would avoid her every single time I went thinking “look at the state of me, look at my wobbly bits”…yeah I don’t bother with that self hatred these days, I’ve learned to let it go. Now it’s cheeky winks to the lens and a nice catch up after the run. The best part is looking back to the 2014 ParkRun pictures and seeing so many of the clients I have now did this run that day too. None of us knew one day we would be working together. They inspired me to keep going back then, I studied hard to learn how I could help them, so now I pay it back…that’s how inspiration works!!