I’ve been running regularly for 26 months now but I still feel like a newbie in many respects. I’ve not competed in many races, I’ve signed up for, but never run a ParkRun and I don’t run in a club. What I have been reminded of at the weekend is just how much I love running (something my 16-year-old self would’ve scoffed at!) and on my run tonight I had an epiphany:
No matter how tall, short, thin, fat, old, young, fast or slow you are, there are just 4 essential things to take with you on a run.
And here, in no particular order (except to make an attractive acronym), they are:
#1 – Reason
There are always many excuses not to run: work was tiring, it’s raining/snowing/windy/too hot (delete as appropriate), the footy’s on, there’s chores to do. Whenever any of these little things creep into your head, before they prevent you from getting off the sofa or before they tempt you to cut that run short remember the reason you started (or wanted to start) running.
These may be just as numerous and varied but they often can’t be heard over those naughty excuses. Whether it’s to get fitter, to de-stress, to challenge yourself, or to raise money for charity, focus on your reasons to run.
#2 – Inspiration
I mentioned I was reminded how much I love running at the weekend. This was thanks to Liz and Laura who organised the inaugural “Write This Run” event, a conference for running bloggers. A day full of interesting speakers and surrounded by equally passionate running bloggers left me charged with energy, emotion and inspiration.
“If you have a body, you are an athlete”
“Why can’t I do that?”
Mimi Anderson (@Marvellousmimi) took up running at the age of 36 and hasn’t let age or Grandparenthood get in her way of running on 6 of the 7 continents (only the Antarctic eludes her) and becoming the fastest woman to run from John O’Groats to Land’s End, the fastest person to cross Ireland on foot and the first and only woman to run back-to-back Comrades Marathons.
“Only stop if there’s no other option”
When Kevin Betts‘ (@52marathonman) dad committed suicide, he decided to raise money and awareness for Rethink Mental Illness using his goal-setting approach. In 2011, Kevin ran 52 sub-4 hour marathons, 27 of which were on treadmills!
“Why? Why not?”
It’s takes little effort to find amazing people doing extraordinary things. You don’t have to try to match them – just pinch a bit of their energy, drive and determination. I know they won’t mind, they have plenty to share round!
#3 – Belief
This is perhaps the most difficult of the four things to find and hold on to (it’s certainly my weak spot) but that’s why it’s so important – if you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t.
Now as in real life, there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence but frankly, for many of us I know that fine line can sometimes be as far away as the horizon. Have faith in yourself. Your mind will tell you to stop far quicker than your body needs to. Pinching another pearl of wisdom from Kevin: If a marathon was really that hard, why do hundreds of thousands of people complete them every year?
#4 – Support
Some people may disagree but you can’t do it on your own. Surround yourself with people who will provide you with encouragement to keep going. They don’t have to understand why, they just need to understand its importance to you; whether it’s taking on a Mimi-sized challenge or just taking the first steps to get yourself off the couch.
Your support doesn’t need to be limited to those you can touch and feel either (although that can be more fun)! There is a vast field of runners dodging the traffic on the information super highway – get yourself on Twitter, get yourself a blog, get yourself to next year’s Write This Run. It’s amazing how much support you can receive from absolute strangers. And you never know, you may just meet some of them in real life too!
I nearly forgot about tonight’s run (I didn’t really – that’s just a bit of artistic licence). I took these 4 things with me on my run tonight. They didn’t weigh me down. In fact, along with some great running form tips from Karen Weir (@RunWithKaren), they powered me round. They helped me push past the point of wanting to stop. They helped me forget about the wind and rain. They helped me push myself to, albeit unofficial, a personal best 10k time of 47:26 – an improvement of nearly one and a half minutes.
RIBS – don’t leave home without them!