Around a month ago, I started to run with some degree of frequency. I have run sporadically and for short phases for a long time, but, for the first time, I have started to enjoy running. Previously it was just something I did, because I should. I was told of the health benefits.
BUT, it is crazily hard to continue doing something just because it is good for you – this is why so many diets and fitness regimes fail.
Despite this, there are so many reasons why run should be enjoyable. As well as the health benefits, running is very cheap, incredibly accessible, massively customisable to suit the individual and challenging (and rewarding)! When I started running again, I decided that running didn’t have to be restricted to plodding up and down a road: instead I sought out hills that I could attempt to climb while running, I ran off-road bringing along a number of other challenges and training in other ways such as interval or fartlek training.
These changes mean I enjoy running – I no longer even need a schedule because I often go out of my own accord.
Tonight, I ran 20km. A half-marathon. I had only planned to go out for a 5k run, but when I got out, I got into the swing of it. The first 15km felt surprisingly effortless. I managed to maintain a consistent pace, hovering just over 5 minutes per km. I could feel my head clearing, all the stresses and aches of a tough day studying seeping away. I admired the bright moon and stars looking back at me, sitting serenely in the sky. The waves crashing against the beach helped set the pace for each stride. I felt my body naturally speed up to overtake another runner, or whenever I saw someone I recognised – each time feeling like a minor victory.
After I’d hit 15km, it suddenly felt tough. I was keen to reach 20km but I suddenly realised that would be a challenge. I’m not sure if it was physical or mental, but I was struggling. At 15.5km I even checked the time on my phone, resolving if the minute was an odd number, I would continue running, if it was even, I would just go home. 20:31. Better carry on! My pace slowed, my legs felt like jelly: I was now the one being sped past by other runners but there was nothing I could do. I could look along the beach promenade and it looked an incredible long way to go. I took my phone out my pocket and watched the distance on my phone crawling up, seeming impossibly slow. I learnt that you never know how poorly you judge distance, until you are worn out, and wanting it to increase faster than it is. The last 0.5 km seemed to last an eternity and for a brief period, I thought I may have bitten off too much.
Once I reached 20km, I walked the last 50 metres to my house, stretched and got in the shower. My legs felt like jelly (they still do), and I struggled to stand up. But, as I stood in the showed, I really felt like I’d achieved something; there is a clear progression from the past month. I did not regret running it at all – in fact, I felt epic! I still do! I reflected on my time: 1:50:47. Although I had hoped to finish in under 1:50:47, this is a fairly solid base, and definitely capable of improvement soon!
So… go outside, and run! Take advantage of the fact you have legs, and some degree of health (and the ability to improve it right at your toes). What have you got to lose?
“Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up” – Dean Karnazes