At the beginning of the year it is safe to say that I wasn’t feeling happy biologically. I felt slow, lumbered and in a pretty shitty mood. I decided it was my general health and fitness that was the cause of my perpetual grief, so I decided to do something about it – pulling on my running shoes and shorts and getting out onto the open road.
My first few runs, when I look back now, were pretty abysmal, though were expected of someone who had done little more than walking to the fridge for exercise in the previous 12 months. I was averaging around a mile and a half and I’d come back sweating, sore and feeling worse than when I started.
It was amazing how fast this changed. Like the changing of the tide, I awoke the next morning with a spring in my step, my lungs felt great – like a muscle that has been stretched and is ready to tackle the days work. I no longer felt downtrodden and tired. I had slept better than ever due to my excursion and had awoken a new man!
Six months later and I had been running once or twice a week, periodically I admit, usually using the excuse of “not having enough time” to go for a run. It is an excuse people in the fitness industry, most probably, hear a lot – but it’s ridiculous. Even if you put aside 40 minutes of your day, you can get a great run in. For those even more pushed for time, a surface skimming search on Google can unearth some fantastic pulse racing, lung busting exercises that can be completed in 20 minutes.
There is no excuse.*
When I started running I set my sights on each kilometre.
1K .. 2K… 3K…
Then after 3k was down, I dived head first into my first 5k run.
It was tough and it took its toll. Unlike the runs I was performing twice a week, I didn’t enjoy my first 5k as much as I thought I would. I harked back to younger days when I played Rugby for my secondary school and could breeze through a 5k in 25-30 minutes, but this time around I was pushing on 40.
Flash forward and I have had an outrageously busy year. Work picked up, we moved house and my running schedule took a hit over Christmas. I had lagged too far behind the pack and was now struggling to get back into it. Then a few months ago I began again. I started using an app called “Zombies, Run!” and it was a revelation. An audiobook style running companion that tells a tale, incorporating sprints and objectives to your standard everyday runs.
I began clocking up the miles again and within a few weeks I had burnt through 6/7 4k runs on my new route and finally decided to tackle the 5k once more.
I felt a lot better than the first time I had tried the 5k. Something was different, maybe it was an easier route, or maybe after weeks of longing to make something of my self the simplest thing had occurred – a change in my attitude.
Change can be big or small, obvious or discreet. Sometimes it can even be bad – but for me, the smallest change in my attitude towards running made the world of difference. My choice of run is a 5k and I feel disappointed when I can’t complete the distance. Within a week or so of finishing the 5k pictured above, I set myself a new target – 10k.
Ridiculous isn’t it? Someone who runs 5k in 38 minutes wants to run a 10k?
Not ridiculous, it’s a target, an ambition, a goal.
It’s one that I hope to achieve quickly, as you see I have signed up for two 10k races in November, one of them being Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest and I fully intend on smashing them both. Initially I don’t care what time I bring in, I just want to finish the distance. Then I will know whether that small change was really worth it.
For now, I will focus on bringing my 5K time down, at least for a couple of weeks, then I will begin to really push the distance. Then, hopefully by the time the 7th of November rolls around, with a bit of will power, adrenaline and foolish confidence, I will be able to drag myself over the line with the rest of my team.
*unless there is some sort of underlying medical condition – in that case you’re okay.