Running for Beginners. My Wife’s Inspirational Story.
This is my wife’s story (yes that’s her in the picture). I run because of her, she is my inspiration to run (I mean inspiration in the traditional sense and in that she kicks my arse if I’m being a lazy bugger). I asked her to write this because hers is a story that I think many women (and men) can relate to. It is titled running for beginners but it is really about the evolution of her running; from the first moment she decided to run to the running addict she is today. It is a witty story which I think you will enjoy and benefit from. We live in England and use the metric system so for the benefit of US readers; 1 mile is 1.6km. The units km and k both refer to kilometer.
For transparency, I have included some Amazon Associate links to products that either my wife uses or are similar. If you buy through these links we do get a small kick back (which will be put straight back into running this blog).
I Started With Slimming World.
Before I started running I ate mostly chips(fries), and bread, and biscuits. And drank a lot of wine. Especially on a Friday and Saturday night as a reward for getting through a work week and not killing my children. I had previously been a Slimming World member to help me lose weight for my wedding and in just under a year I had managed to lose over 3.5 stone (49lbs) but I very rarely exercised. The weight loss had come purely from changing my eating habits.
As a child I hated P.E at school, in particular the Bleep Test. For those of you that don’t know, the Bleep Test is the exercise of the Devil; running the length of a gym hall, trying to get to the other side before the beep goes off (which gradually gets quicker and quicker) and I spent the majority of my childhood being overweight so the fact that I now run an average of 20km (12 miles) a week is nothing short of a miracle.
Couch to 5k.
I started running because I was fed up of being fat. I had bought an exercise DVD to do at home when the kids were in bed but I needed something that would get me out of the house, and was free so I downloaded the Couch to 5k app on my phone and off I went. Couch to 5k is an excellent way of making runners out of non-runners and is divided into weekly sessions. In week 1 you begin by warming up with a 5 minute fast paced walk, moving onto alternate 60 second runs and 90 second walks until you hit 20 minutes of exercise. Week 4 is a 5 minute walk to warm up, moving onto 5 minutes of running, 2.5 minutes walking, 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking and ending on 5 minutes running and the idea is that by week 9 you will be able to run 5k continuously. Honestly, I didn’t get to week 9 before I gave up because I kept telling myself I couldn’t do it, it was too difficult and I was too fat to run. So I stopped. And I didn’t start again for another 6 months after that.
Running With Mum.
At the very beginning of my running “career”, at my slowest and heaviest, I remember training for my very first Parkrun. Every Sunday I would get up early (always hungover) get in the car and drive to my mum’s house where we would run together. It was miserable, and I hated it, but mum was always optimistic that “it’ll be great” and “we won’t go far, THIS time”. Pfffffft, whatever. She would literally drag me up hills, along roads, through parks, shouting “It’s ok! Only another 1.8km to go!” and I’d be struggling to not vomit. We started that Parkrun together, and ended it together (in a time I’d rather not mention now!) and I tried to never let her down, with running at least. I was in awe of her strength and her determination and now, it seems, she is in awe of mine. Which is nice.
Running With Friends.
It began again with my friend. We both work the same days which leaves us free on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Mondays we walk her dog. On Tuesdays we RUN. We were probably running anywhere between 3-8km (1.9-5 miles a week) every Tuesday, which gave us plenty of time to moan about our children and our husbands, and fantasise about eating cheesy French fries whilst soaking our aching muscles in the bath when we had finished. Our bodies were temples, and we were goddesses!
Half Marathon Training.
One evening I announced to my husband “I’m going to do the Brighton Half Marathon!” logged on, signed up, paid the entry fee and instantly regretted it. But I had made the decision and financially committed which meant I couldn’t back out. You see, once I have an idea in my head that’s it, I have to do it (the last time that happened I ended up with a very short, bleached white, pixie hair cut). We trained like machines, each week increasing our long runs by 1km, and fitted in an extra two 5km runs throughout the week. Before I knew it I was running, on average, 25-28km a week and feeling like Mo Farah (only with slightly more baby fat).
Leading up to Christmas 2017, knowing my training for the half marathon would be coming to an end in February, I knew I had to set myself a new target in order to keep running. I’m the kind of person who, if there isn’t an end goal then I just won’t bother, will sit on my fat arse and moan about the fact I’m fat and can’t walk up the stairs without breaking a sweat whilst shoveling copious amounts of biscuits in my mouth. So the 1000km challenge it was! This is an online challenge (with no medal, grrrr!) that requires you to run 1000km in a year, which equates to roughly 19km a week. Piece. Of. Cake (mmmmmmm, cake).
My Running Schedule.
What I have come to realise in doing this new challenge is that I am addicted to running. Yes! Me! Addicted to running! If I don’t get at least 2 runs in a week I feel grumpy and twitchy, and I know that if I go more than a 4 days without running I’ll struggle the next time I do run. I attend my local Parkrun every Saturday morning, and if I miss this then god help my family that day. Running has become part of who I am, and has almost completely taken over my Instagram account (when the cat isn’t being totes adorbs).
It’s got to the point where you can almost guarantee to see some form of running gear on the washing line every single day, about a month ago it got so bad that all I was wearing was leggings and a sports bra or my Disney pyjamas! I’m not going to pretend that I’m an athlete, I’m not even going to pretend that every run is successful, but the feeling I get after every run when I stop my Garmin Forerunner as it hits 10km, or 5km, knowing that I have just run for a significant amount of time, is priceless. And it’s literally priceless! I am now a runner, and I have a collection of race medals to prove it!
Benefits of Running; Runners Body, Runners mind.
Running now means spending anything from an hour to 3 hours a week with just me. It means I can get away from work, the house, the kids and the husband and just be on my own. I have struggled with depression in the past, and continue to battle with negative thoughts now so it’s really important to me to be able to say “Husband, I’m going OUT for a RUN” and he knows what that really means and tells me to SMASH IT.
I’m not saying that every run involves me clearing my mind and coming back lighter than air and kind to my family. Sometimes, like today, I’ll have Abba on a loop in my head, which is fine if you like that sort of thing. Once I had just one line of “You’re Welcome” from Moana in my head whilst doing a 12km run and that didn’t drive me mad. At. All.
The point is, running is mine and I don’t have to share it with anyone and I can think about whatever I want, or go wherever I want, or stop whenever I want. It also means I have muscles in my legs I never knew existed until now! My thighs are rock hard and my calves are defined, and I don’t chafe in the summer! I feel a lot more body confident now that I’m more toned than when I lost all that weight before, and what’s more I can eat whatever I like because I run so much. BONUS!
Final Running Tips.
I read a book a few weeks ago called Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley which documented her journey from being a non-runner to a marathon runner and her advice to non-runners is pretty much spot on. Ladies: invest in a decent sports bra. It won’t damage them if you don’t, but it will make them much more comfortable if you do. Plus, you’ll have somewhere safe to keep your house key when you do run. Other than that you just have to want to do it. Like anything, if you don’t want to do it, you won’t. Running is hard and it takes a while to see and feel the benefits but it does get easier. All you need is a pair of trainers, a bottle of water and path to run on.
Now, when’s the next Ultra Marathon……
A Word From the Husband (That’s Me!)
As I sit here reading this post again I get a wave of pride in my wife…she’s awesome! She didn’t mention it but she did run (and complete) the half marathon. I think it’s fair to say (I can’t check because she’s out running at the moment (obviously!)) that it’s her most proudest achievement.
I can also attest to the fact that it is not safe to be around her if she has missed a run!
However, the over all effect on her and the whole family is great. I have also seen the light at the end of the 5k and do our local Parkrun with her and other friends every week, it’s a brilliant way to start your weekend. We drink less, eat better and our mental health is much stronger as result.
Get out there and RUN!!
Thanks for your time.
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Author: Paul Stevens-Fulbrook
Paul Stevens-Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher and Education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started blogging to help support teachers with the everyday struggles that they all face (including himself).