Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Have you ever been nervous to try something new in case you weren’t good at it? Same. I dip in and out of running, but it's one of my all-time favorite ways to move. I used to get mocked about the way I ran as a kid (you know who you are) and albeit definitely hilarious, I think it held me back. You don't have to be a marathon runner to be a runner, and you certainly don't have to be thin to be a runner. You can be you, a runner, if you choose.
Exercise and running especially is amazing for good health. I think it's safe to say we all know this. It is also, however, so good for your mental health. There is a lot of research behind exercise improving your mood, releasing serotonin and other happy hormones and just getting you out moving in the air. Without getting too deep into the technicalities, the simple act of moving your body forward and getting that heart rate up is so powerful for your body and your mind. Having time to look forward, move forward and focus your mind. Sweating is literally like changing the old dirty oil in your body, replacing it with a new clean turbo diesel. If you had a heavy night on the wine and feel like death, I challenge you to go for a run, even a short one and just see how quickly you start to feel better once you break that sweat.
This year was my 30th and I had a few goals. One was to do another half marathon. I did a half when I was 22 but hadn't trained properly. I learned a lot about 'what not to do' in that scenario. Not being able to walk for about a week wasn't ideal. There's something so satisfying about following a training program, seeing your fitness and endurance improve each time you run with a goal in mind. You can find many simple regimes to follow online.
Back in March, I was sitting in a wine bar with my friend Sam. Three large reds in with all the feels she convinced me to sign up to the Hackney half and I decided to fundraise for Cancer Research. It felt right as a friend’s mum had been going through chemo at the time so I thought it would be a gesture. It feels extra special on the day when you know you've done something for a cause. It makes those hard km's a lot easier. As soon as you cross that finish line you feel proud and so accomplished. That is great for the mind.
Once I was told by a man I worked with (who was also a semi-pro athlete and a bit of a pig to be honest) that my body was not built for running. He said that a body like mine was made for strength and weight training. 'Running as it’s pointless for your body type'. Bitch, please. Yes, I am a strong and curvaceous woman, and god bless my delicate little ankles that carry all that junk.. but who the hell was he to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body? Next please..
I am a cardio lover, but most importantly I am a die-hard lover of food. I need cardio as my primary training mode to keep me in some sort of shape so I can fit in my clothes/through the door. Do not listen to what people tell you about your own body (unless medically qualified). No-one knows your body as you do and the beauty of life is that we are all so different. Different body shapes, different skin types, different skin colour, different beliefs and different perspectives. That is what makes the world so beautiful, try not to be afraid of this. Different foods make us feel certain ways, some people are tolerant some people aren't. It is never a one size fits all. The most important thing is to listen to it, a skill that is developed over time.
In a nutshell, having some sort of goal, ie. for me signing up to a half reignited my love for running because I had to do it. I have had a few months off where I focussed on strength and spinning mostly but have started back again today. It's November 1st and I've decided to try a 50K challenge for this month (good luck to me in the start of the Berlin winter). I entered the ballot recently for the Berlin marathon 2020 and will find out the end of November if I got a place. I may as well crack on now in the hope I get one. If you want to join me on the challenge follow me on the Nike Running app, just type my name in. I know people who tried the couch to 5k app and found it great, as long as you go out there and start the rest will follow. A short, average run or workout is better than none. Set small achievable goals in reasonable timeframes. Do not wait until January, it will never happen if you don't start today. Follow inspiring people on Instagram who are realistic. Listen to great podcasts and let yourself learn and be inspired by others.
I feel mentally in such a better place since I started training. During my half prep also I massively cut down on alcohol which was pretty life-changing (will for sure be doing a blog on this soon). It’s completely psychological and we sometimes have a way of categorising ourselves with things like ‘I’m not a runner’ because we have deep-rooted beliefs about this from a young age. Change your habits one baby step at a time and become them. Work on your mindset and you can become whoever you want to be.
Podcast recommendations; The Power Hour (Adrienne Herbert), Marie Forleo (The Marie Forleo Podcast), Tim Ferris (Tim Ferris show) Elizabeth Day (How to Fail)
Books to read; Atomic Habits by James Clear, Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo, You Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen