Let’s get social: Resurrecting a love of running

My running trainers

IT’S been a while since I took on a half marathon. Four years in fact. I completed the 2013 Great North Run in my fastest time, but after I found a recurring hip injury just wouldn’t go away, I decided to go easy on the long distance running for a while.

At the same time I joined a gym and found a new obsession with lifting weights and circuit classes and my running trainers sat collecting dust. Where I would always be running or training for something before, I’d only ran a few 5ks here or there in the last few years…. until last year.

Park Run had been around for a long time and I’d been a couple of times but getting up early on a Saturday to run 5k never appealed to me much before. But in March I dug out my barcode and began joining thousands of others across the country at the start line of my local Park Run at 9am. This time round I fell in love with it and the community feel. It was something you could do for fun, take in the green surroundings and feel like you had achieved a lot by 9.30am.

The first few runs were a real struggle. I didn’t realise just how much my body would have slowed down in the last four years. I was never a particularly fast mover before and sometimes struggled to move my legs but I could finish a 5k under 30 minutes. Now though, my legs felt like lead within minutes of moving off the start and oh my gosh did my body ache. I was four years older and I could certainly feel it.

Determined to get back to my old running ways, I was soon out again each week and set myself a target of running a sub 30 5k, but this was not going to be easy.

When women come together

Through Park Run I found out about a women’s only running club. It might sound a bit sexist to some but having tried other running clubs this was by far the most fun and inclusive I’d found. There was no unnecessary competitiveness or machoness you sometimes experienced in other clubs. And it didn’t matter how slow you were, you never got left behind.  It was about building each other up, encouraging like minded women and making some new friends too. And through social media you felt like you were part of a new online community with women organising runs together at times that suited them, sharing their stories and their love of running.

Every Monday, sometimes Wednesdays too, I joined 40/50 other women running around the streets en masse. I was there in the dark wearing hi-vis and light up armbands, got drenched in torrential rain and braved it through -2C temperatures. While I had once only been a fair weather runner, I was now part of an army of fellow crazy women who ran in all weather conditions and my love of running had reignited. We did trail runs through muddy fields, met for lunch break hill runs and cheered each other on. And feeling all positive and motivated I signed up for the half marathon.

Full of confidence, I challenged myself to cross the line in 2hr 10mins, which would’ve been my fastest time, and was achievable. So I found a 12 week training plan which I have roughly stuck to, bar a few missed sessions, logged each run on a new app and bored my colleagues with my runs and training progress.

But now, with just a week to go, I’m starting to get nervous and thinking I had maybe been a tad optimistic.

I’ve completed my last long run – 10 miles because I got lost and fell a mile short of my planned 11 miles – and it was a real struggle (although I did finish) but I’ve been worrying that I’ve not done enough to prepare. Having been so positive that I could do this before and thinking I had loads of time to train, I’m starting to panic about how I will cope on the day. It’s going to be a hilly one, which I’m not looking forward to and I have managed this distance before BUT….. right now…13 miles seems way beyond my reach.

It’s too late to turn back now anyway so I just need to find my positive pants and push myself to keep going on race day. The Jelly Babies are ready, the running playlist is downloaded and I’ve totally got this.

See you at the end!

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