It’s no surprise that as I’ve picked up a running habit, I’ve also picked up the desire to learn more about it, to read about other runner’s experiences, and to get tips and advice.
One of the first running books I picked up was Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For me, where Heminsley excelled was in making running accessible. Browse the running section in any bookstore and you’ll find it full of biographies and “how-to’s” from elite athletes and ultra-runners, athletes like Mo Farah, Scott Jurek, and Paula Radcliffe. And while these athletes can inspire me, they don’t represent my running career, past, present, or future. On most levels, I can’t relate to their story.
But in Heminsley I found a kindred spirit, a woman who was never the sporty type, tried numerous types of exercise, and who was bored senseless by the gym. Running Like a Girl is an honest and humorous account of her journey from running around the block to running a marathon. Like her, I’m not out to win races, only competing against myself and my fears. So her tale of couch to middle of the pack runner was one to which I related.
And while she offered plenty of practical advice about the sport, (buying trainers, avoiding injury, joining running clubs) the book was about much more than running. It was also about overcoming your fears and challenging yourself to do things you never imagined possible.
Somehow removing the idea of exercise simply as something to do with getting fit or reaching aesthetic perfection had made sport a very different experience for me. I was enjoying the thrill of setting goals and sticking to them, of developing a bit of mental discipline.
A good run when you least want to leave the house has a magical ability to unravel a knotty problem that has been vexing you for days, without you really understanding how.
Once you have taught yourself that running isn’t about breaking boundaries you thought you could never smash, and realised that it is about discovering those boundaries were never there in the first place, you can apply it to anything.
Lacing up and leaving the house is the hardest moment of any run. You never regret it once you are en route.
The secret that all runners keep is that they don’t do it for their bodies but for their minds. Slim legs can get boring but a clear mind never does.
It was in running that I discovered that the scope of our achievements is not determined by others, but by ourselves.
Sometimes to find out you are a runner, you just have to go out and run.
In other running news, on March 2nd, I’ll be running the final race in my 12 month running challenge in support of Crohn’s & Colitis UK. When I started this challenge, my plan was to run a 10K race every month. But as the year progressed and my running improved I wanted to do more, wanted a bigger challenge. So my final race isn’t a 10K, is the Reading Half Marathon.
So I’ve upped my game. Surely that deserves a few more donations as I head for the finish line? It’s easy to donate on my Just Giving page.