My first ever race was the hardest one I ever did, in many ways. I was a teenager, and my mum somehow roped me in to doing a 5K with her and her friends. I wasn’t fit. Shortsighted, at school I desperately avoided team sports with flying balls, and I hated running so much that I once stayed awake the entire night, worrying, before The Bleep Test in PE. As you know, I didn’t discover a love of exercise for another decade, until I was in my mid-twenties. (How I regret those wasted days, when I got to do sport in the middle of weekdays with all of my mates, and didn’t appreciate it!)
I didn’t think to train for the race. I wouldn’t have known where to begin even if I had thought of it. I just borrowed some trainers from Mum. Then I borrowed the rest of the outfit from her too, and showed up on the day. I was nervous, but didn’t really know what what in store.
Mum’s friends were excited on the day – they had been training together, and this was the first race for some. The atmosphere on a Race for Life start line is electric, so positive, proud and full of chatter – with an edge of sadness for people lost, in whose memories women are running. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the course itself was two loops of a park, with about half a kilometre of uphill halfway through the loop. We set out as a little pack, and I felt fine for a couple of minutes. Until that hill showed up for the first time. I didn’t know how to move my legs up it, and my heart was thundering. Mum’s friends held back for me, and I caught them back up on the flat. The sunny day felt oppressively hot.
I struggled on, but by the time that hill came round again, I was pooped. I couldn’t catch my breath, my trainers felt like bricks, and so I stopped. I was sure I couldn’t go on. Mum’s friends, who had their own race to run, were heroes. They waited with me, and gave me tips on how to push forward. They had me focus on my feet, and on pushing the air out rather than sucking it in. They took every step with me. I walked up most of the hill, and managed to break into a slow jog for the last 500m. I took my goody bag and vowed never to run again…
I don’t share this story to make exercise seem intimidating – I hope it’s more inspiring. If you can’t currently run round the block, don’t worry, neither could I, not for a long shot. My marathons have been walks in the park in comparison to that first 5K (ironic, seeing as the 5K literally was a walk in the park by the end). Most people don’t wake up one day with an innate ability to step out of the door and start running. We run one lamppost, walk one lamppost, until we’re ready to run two lampposts and beyond. Start your running journey today, with a walk – it will be a run one day. You’ll be so proud of yourself, and might even raise a bit of money to fight cancer sooner in the process.
We’ll be bringing you a series of posts in conjunction with the KiQplan Race For Life App, that helps to build up a 5K or 10K training plan from a base of no running whatsoever. The app is nutritionist, personal trainer and coach in one. Along the way, it pairs up with your fitness tracker, to review the effect that your sleep, exercise and nutrition have on your 5K or 10K training goals. One of our next beginner training posts will give the chance to win a FitBug activity tracker to pair up with the app – watch this space for more info.
Runners’ knowledge swap time –
If you’re an experienced runner, what advice would you like to give to brand new runners? If you’re just starting out, what do you want to know?
No holds barred!