If you had told me seven weeks ago that I would be sat writing this post at 10:30am on a Saturday morning after smashing my run and saying the sentence “I enjoy running”, I would have laughed so hard. Jenny from seven weeks ago (and frankly the last 20 years) hasn’t exercised – or indeed moved – more than necessary. But being in the Fast Forward 15 mentoring scheme and spending time with my mentor – the absolutely incredible Juliet Price – has made me realise that I can do a lot more than I thought I could. Admittedly when I agreed to the 10k run I was less than excited. But I gained some weight at the end of 2015 and I’ve been a bit down about it so been wanting to get my shit together and get healthier. I also worked out that with everything going on, I’m going to get a bit stressed. Big thing to say right now: I suffer from anxiety. I don’t really talk about it because it’s not a big deal and I can deal with it but I’ve noticed it happening more frequently in the last few months. I know that running helps. And I want to get on top of this and stop it from happening. So I started running.
I was reluctant to write about my training, because it’s not like I’m training for a marathon. 10k is not that far. 6.2 miles to be precise. When I signed up to the race, I put my estimated time as 1 hour 45 minutes. I have no idea how long it is going to take me, but I’m determined to run the whole way. I don’t care how slowly I do it. I’m going to. But today I had a break through.
I went out last night and had a lot of wine (because I’m taking training seriously). Then I got woken up early thanks to the Co-op moving things around and someone drilling. I decided to go for a run because it was early and gloomy and I thought the Brighton sea front would be empty. Boy was I wrong. People everywhere because not only was the Sport and Exercise Show setting up on Hove Lawns, but also I forgot they hold ParkRun along the seafront on Saturday mornings. I nearly turned round and went home. But I was listening to the exercise episode of the Guilty Feminist podcast and forced myself on. My last run comprised of three 5 minute runs and I could just about do it. Today was an eight minute run, five minute walk, eight minute run. And I did it. Thanks to ParkRun people applauding me, seeing so many people of all ages, sizes and speeds running together pushed me on, and my brain finally clicked into place. The guest on The Guilty Feminist podcast was Jessamyn Stanley and hearing her talk about empowerment and owning your body was incredible. I paraphrase, but essentially she said you rarely stop and look at your body and appreciate it for what it is. My legs aren’t fat, they are strong and carry me and do so much. She said that as I was thinking of stopping for a break. Carried right on. Sure, if I lose a little weight from this then great. But right now I’m just in awe of the fact that I can do this.
I think this has been the main change that’s come from running. At the beginning, I was struggling to breathe and even run for 30 seconds. Now I can run for eight minutes. I mean yeah, sure, I have a long way to go. And seven weeks ago I thought that this would be impossible. Now, I can totally do this. I feel strong. I feel good. I can take on anything. Challenges at work, sure. All my mentoring work, no problem. Helping launch Brighton Girl magazine, easy.
I’m using a couch potato to 10k app by Zen Labs which takes you on a fourteen week training programme with increasing interval training. This instantly was way better than my running attempts in the past where I’ve forced myself to run until I was tired, then walk for ages and hurt for days. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I REALLY hurt after my first few runs, now I’m fine. My recovery times are improving, I’m not as sweaty. I still look like a tomato for ages, but considering my skin is the colour and transparency of a ghost that’s to be expected. I used to listen to music, then once I started running for longer than three minutes I noticed this was holding me back. Music gives you a sense of time. You end up begging for the song to finish so you can get this over with. So I swapped to The Guilty Feminist podcast. Not only does this make you lose track of time so it’s easier to just run, it’s also hilarious (I nearly fell over last week from laughing so hard) and empowering. Highly recommend this to everyone.
So that ends this rambling blog post. Coming home I just felt like I needed to get this all out. Thank you to everyone that’s putting up with my photos and complaints on social media, and to everyone supporting me and cheering me on when I’m down. I’m going to keep going. If anyone wants to join me for a run, tweet me! After a few break downs, a few breakthroughs and one moment of “shall I just sit here and cry” I can finally say:
Hi. My name is Jenny and I like running.