My on-off love affair with running started about five years ago.
I took up running in late 2012. In the beginning it was mostly in an effort to ‘get fit’, and lose a few pounds (I’ve also been an on-off dieter since my mid-teens, my desire for the ‘perfect’ body at constant odds with my love of food).
Fresh from volunteering at London 2012, I must have been gripped by Olympic fever, because before that day I think the last time I owned a pair of trainers was sometime around the end of mandatory P.E. lessons at school.
Growing up a chubby and awkward teenager, physical education was never my strong suit. I can still smell that rubbery, sweaty, lynx-y smell that lingers around all secondary school P.E. blocks, and can recall the anxiety of racing to change into my kit in under two minutes, whilst trying to hide all of my wobbly bits. I can still hear my P.E. teacher shouting that I’m the slowest one (again).
Anyway, enough of my P.E. teacher-related emotional baggage. Running.
When I took it up at the end of 2012, it was primarily an attempt at weight-loss, and I hated every moment.
But I persisted.
I bought some proper running shoes and some snazzy leggings. I downloaded app after app. I read up on what I should eat, and when I should eat it.
I ran through working toward a first-class degree, whilst waitressing on the side.
I ran through a move to a different city for my first graduate job (and I ran through moving back home again a year later).
I ran through the subsequent months working a bar job whilst going for interview after interview for entry-level jobs in my field of study.
I ran through starting this blog and through starting my current day job and I’m still running regularly whilst I plan a wedding, become a homeowner and and work on growing my freelance business on the side of my day job.
Sometimes I don’t go running for a few weeks, and I can tell. I get antsy and moody, and my husband-of-the-future hands me my sports bra and trainers and tells me to go outside.
I’m not what you’d call a serious runner. I’ve never entered a race (though that is a goal for this year) or run further than 5k (another goal for this year) and I probably run like Phoebe from Friends, with my arms and legs flung all over the place.
But I don’t care.
I love running. I don’t really do it for weight-loss now – whilst I can’t, hand-on-heart say that I’m over all my body image issues, or that I wouldn’t like to shift a few pounds, I’ve grown a lot more comfortable in my skin (also, the calories I burn on an average run probably equal about half a snickers).
I run because it makes me happy (ah, those good ol’ endorphins).
Running is my quiet time. It is something that I do just for me, because I want to.
Daylight and exercise and a small sense of achievement are important, for happiness and mental health and all that jazz.
I’ve discovered some beautiful parts of Leeds when I just set off running in any direction. Sun-flooded early-morning city streets, and tiny little bits of countryside tucked into a corner of the city. I even quite like running in the rain.
I’m probably still the slowest, but now that the pressure’s off, I actually look forward to going for a run. There’s something 14-year-old-me never thought I’d say.
Do you enjoy running? What do you love about it? or what holds you back?