Running is not something which comes naturally to me. I was always a swimmer, dancer, netball player but never a runner. All the way through childhood the only time I would run is in the park for fun but never understood people who loved cross country running and long distance. Even the thought of that still makes me shudder! Fast forward to my 39th year and the approaching big 40 and at Christmas something started knocking around my head that I wanted to achieve something before my birthday passed. Living in a new country and seeing so many people regularly running inspired me to have a go and see what the fuss is all about. I also have friends who have all slowly taken up running over the past 18 months and I’ve seen them find a love of running that is contagious.
So sometime in the middle of January I dusted off my trainers (note to budding runners – invest in a new pair of shoes which you have tested out and feel comfortable, I learnt very quickly that new ones were essential) and set about making a start on the treadmill. I cannot deny that after only 10 minutes of medium paced running I felt quite close to death, my breathing was intense, the sweat was pouring off my face and I seriously wanted it to end and a whole painful 5 more minutes later I hit cooldown and wondered what on earth I’d got myself into. People actually do this for fun?
Day two was a shock to the system, I awoke to legs which felt like concrete and calves which were sore to the touch and felt immediately deflated. If this is how it feels after one run, how on earth am I ever going to get to a point where I can run a 5k and more? I wisely chose not to run again for two days recovery and took up the challenge on the Thursday evening. Just to be clear I was not following any plan or app or guidelines here, just trying out how far I could run without passing out and keeping a mental note of the distance on the machine. I managed to get to 13 minutes this time before the “kill me now” feeling kicked in and cooldown button was hit. Slow progress but in the right direction. I hauled my sweaty little legs off the treadmill and headed back for a cold shower.
And so this continued, twice a week building up to three times I would run for as long as I could until I needed to safely stop and as February rolled into March something quite miraculous happened. I started to look forward to running, infact if I didn’t get a fix I would feel quite annoyed. Progress was painfully slow though, as I was impatient to actually get quickly up to the 5k mark and beyond but hadn’t banked on just how hard this would feel on my poor body. Living with a hubby who is an ex marathon runner was not exactly helpful as he could run alongside me quite happily for 30 minutes and look quite normal afterwards whereas I sounded like I had a serious chain smoking habit and was pouring with sweat. So I ditched him and started running outdoors instead of in the air conditioned gym and things changed. Music on, open paths ahead of me I was able to start using each landmark as a guide to how far I was running and seeing others running and smiling as we passed encouraged me to keep on going. Running outdoors was a complete revelation. The wind in your face, sun on your skin and just feeling like you are letting go of your worries and just being free to run is now a joy I look forward to everytime.
Spurred by the progress I was making and how good it made me feel that when a good friend Ruth who had started running too told me about Electric Run I decided to sign up for the race! It was a night run set to thumping tunes, neon glow sticks and dress up optional and looked like great fun. Yes, it does sound a little like a mid-life crisis 😉 The date was circled on the calendar for the family to see and there was a mixture of terror and excitement as the race date approached and a slow impending worry set in that I would simply not make it around the course.
An email pinged in with the subject header “pick up your race pack” and I have to confess I nearly spat my morning tea out over the keyboard then and there. I’d been happily pootling along with my running for a few weeks not thinking about the actual date and it had crept up on me. I queued up with these super fit looking twenty somethings in the rain waiting for me pack. Excitedly it was shiny metallic pink and contained all the running essentials, running number, glow sticks, glow rings and sunglasses?, race t-shirt and vouchers. More like a party bag then a race one but this was my first experience of entering anything since the egg and spoon race so I embraced the crazy goodies and couldn’t wait to get home to empty it on the bed and see what else was in the bag.
The race I’d signed up for was to be honest a lot of fun, running at night through the F1 track in Singapore is hardly something which is not going to be firmly burned into my memory. Sketchers Electric Run was held over two nights with 10,000 runners around a track just shy of 5k. So not exactly pushing any boundaries here but for me, running outdoors and still being alive was a great goal to have. I managed to get around the course in just over half an hour and felt the rush of adrenelin as I crossed the finishing line, glow stick firmly in hand with all my flashing bracelets and neon decorations. Running with friends definitely helped but I have to admit that I want to do it again. I want to experience the sensation of running in a group of people around a track and really getting that buzz of finishing. So I’ll leave you with some photo’s from that night and this little word to those couch potatoes of whom I was once a fully signed up member. Get up off the sofa, get outdoors and try running. It’s free, you can do it alone or with friends and is probably the best stress busting therapy for whatever your day has been like.
Remember, adventure is out there!