So I was ready, geared up and a 1Km circular footpath right outside my door. What could be easier? well that’s what I thought, gotta be pretty straight forward, I’ll not try too hard, 2 or 3 Km and that’ll do.
Well on my first day (around 20 June 2017) I stepped out full of absolute dread. I am so far from being an exhibitionist, will hide if I can from any sign that I might be front and centre – so what the hell was I doing dressed like a twit in the middle of a housing estate frankly not having a clue. I’m 40 years old, surely I know better than to be doing this?
To be honest, in many other situations like this I would have slunk back into my house, maybe made a coffee and grabbed a biscuit and pretended nothing happened. Hoping nobody had seen my brief moment of madness. that would be it, file that under ‘tried it and didn’t like it’ and then move on with life, slowly growing ever bigger and just accepting it.
I can’t actually explain why I chose to close the door behind me and stride across the road to the footpath. I guess i had some face to keep as I had bought the gear with my wife present and she too had decided to by a few bits so as to join me when she could – with kids this would mean taking it in turns but I knew what she meant. So turning around would have seemed a bit of a quitter.
What’s the worst that could happen? what actually would happen if somebody I knew saw me? I did ponder this for a long time before I started and realised that to question 1 the answer could be ‘a painful death’ and to question 2 – well nothing, and hopefully they would see it as me trying to better myself and be encouraging. That sounds reasonable and rational, doesn’t it?
So the phrase ‘sod it’ entered my head, my feet moved me to the footpath and that was it, I was going to start.
So what about the first time, well I ran most of the 1Km footpath circle unbroken. stunned myself. Slow as anything but who cares I had made a start. I got back home slumped into a chair, drank a pint of water and thought, ‘well, I’m still alive, no heart attack. I survived!’ Sadly my body was having a stern conversation with my brain asking it what the hell it thought it was doing making that happen, and asking it to promise never to make it happen again!
my body was having a stern conversation with my brain
I felt fine. The world continued to turn. my efforts hadn’t made a breaking news story on the national news and I wasn’t some hideous laughing stock of a viral YouTube campaign – it was fine. I was fine. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
Actually I loved it after. I’m a scientist by education and understand the whole endorphin thing and the fact that exercise like other things can generate a natural high. I felt that high (just a little one) but a high nonetheless. A little flicker from the brain saying ‘not sure what just happened there but I kinda liked it. Might like to do that again’.
So why is this part called ‘Learning to walk’? Well I soon found out that run 1 was a fluke. A gold coated, diamond encrusted fluke. I went out a few more times in the next
week thinking I’ll trot out a few more Km’s, it’ll be great. Well nope, next run I managed about 300m and thought I was going to die. I felt gutted, but I walked for 100m or so and started running again. a further 250m or so again I had to stop. this carried on for 2Km. Walk then run then walk … this was a disaster, I can run 1Km solid how come I need to run and walk and can’t go more than a few hundred metres without stopping. At this point after 2 or 3 runs like this I was a whisper from ebaying the running gear and pretending this never happened. I thought I would try and find one of those mind wiping devices from the Men In Black movies. I felt gutted. I don’t like losing, I don’t like failing things – which is why I am so reluctant to try new things. Failure feels embarrassing.
But this was far from failure. I hit Google, searched for ‘How to start running’ and got some great ideas, but almost all said do walk and run. Even to the point that you do very little running. Then over time you do more running and less walking.
so that was it, I had to start by “learning to walk”
Once I accepted that this was OK I carried on trying, sometimes going out every day, just 15 minutes, walk, run, walk. eventually walking reduced, running grew and after what was about 2-3 weeks I was running 2-3Km without walking. I wasn’t burning up the footpath with any speed but I was moving, I was building a base, a foundation to grow from. I could see that this could develop if I continued and worked at this. I wasn’t sure what I did next though. Do I just keep doing this round and around time and again for longer and longer? What is too much? How do I know what is too fast? How hard should I try to run? So many questions and no real idea where to find the answers. Well obviously I knew Google knows everything 😉 but there’s 1.2Million different answers to most questions, so knowing the best one is impossible. I decided to work things out for myself.
Part – 1 The best version of me
Part – 2 Learning to Walk
Part -3 Evolution not Revolution
Part 4: First Run
Part – 5 Me and Mo Farah