Today as I set out to do an easy paced double day (10k in the morning + 10k in the evening) I reflected on how far I've come in my running journey.
Just looking at my comparative January stats for the past 4 Januarys is pretty eye opening...
I've always been active with football, hockey, karate, hiking all a big part of my life over the last 3 decades. But distance running was never really my thing bar a couple of cross country meets in the cold, wet, muddy Scottish fields of some local school (something I relish in now but hated at the time). I was definitely a sprint till you puke type of runner. I remember about 4-5 years ago being insanely impressed by my mate back home for running a 10k and had no idea how you even train for that. She was doing 7-8k training runs and I thought she was a rock star! (I still think she is) I was probably the more active one at school so now seeing her smashing out a number of 10k races I was in awe. And I guess it probably got me thinking, well if she can train for it why can’t I…
Maybe then a seed was planted and 3 years ago I started to train for my first 10k run. It was tough. I had to break my much tried and tested running style of balls to the wall for a few hundred metres before collapsing on my hands and knees. I had to reign it in so that I could build up my distance without blowing up – that my friends is a lot harder than you give it credit for as I’m sure some of you are aware. Today I look at other new runners who are smashing out 5k at a decent pace but then have to walk the last 2k of our planned route. It’s particularly evident in guys who are less keen on being chicked but yet continue to take the approach of give it everything until you have nothing. Of course that’s fine if you’ve got the stamina to actually get to the end of the race!
But back to me now… It took me months to build up to that 10k distance. In those early days I could only run 2k without stopping but slowly it increased. I remember not wanting to run with other people as I was worried I would hold them back and I also was really tentative about running outside especially in front of “real runners”. I thought I’d be laughed at as the fraud that I was. Looking good for 1k before slowing turning redder and redder and sounding like a steam train about to derail. And even now as one of those “real runners” I observe other runners and still catch myself chastising myself for not going as fast as them. But then I remind myself that maybe they’re at the start of their journey and about to blow up. Or they’re out doing tempo work which I now frequently do myself. Or maybe they’re just a bloody good runner. But most importantly I remind myself that it doesn’t matter what they are out there doing. They’re not me, I’m not them. We’re not in a race. We’re not competing against each other. We’re just runners out there having a run…
So when it came to race day in my first 10k, was I the fastest – No! Did I look the best – No! But did I give it my all I had and was I proud of what I’d achieved – hell Yes! And at the end of every race, or even every epic training run, I can look at where I’ve come from and be proud of what I’ve achieved. In that first 10k, something I once deemed impossible was suddenly an accomplishment of mine. Now that 10k is a 50k race and my training runs are in the 30k region at times or I’m doing two 10k training runs in one day. But I still look at each one of them as a blessing (to be able to push my body and mind to new limits) and as an achievement. Every run hurts for some part of it, even the casual 10ks today were tough for sections – a tough incline, a niggling knee pain, dehydration…Sometimes I have a bad shorter run that feels horrid from start to finish but that's ok because not that long ago I thought 10k would kill me and it didn’t and neither did the thousands of kilometres I’ve ran since.
We all start somewhere so if you're new to running or thinking about giving it a go, just get out there and get it done.
Forget what people think. Focus on your run – Your pace. Your distance. Your goals. Your run.
But if you struggle to turn off the negative voices (and most of us struggles at times) then remember that the runners you pass when you’re running may just be thinking “wow look at them go” and the ones that see you walking probably think you’re just out for a walk! Regardless, unless you’re out running circles on a track then most of the runners will soon be out of sight and you can guarantee that once you’re out of sight you’re out of mind.