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I hated running and now I love it! by Lisa

Hello! I’m Lisa and I love all things running! I also enjoy writing and lockdown has given me the opportunity to combine both of these passions to start my very own blog.

I first started running in 2013 in a bid to lose weight. I’d been going to the gym regularly and had already dropped a few dress sizes. I didn’t really know what I was doing in the gym but it had been working. Despite going 3 or 4 times a week, I had never really used the treadmill with any consistency. I was always worried about what people would think, seeing me bouncing around, before giving up after a couple of minutes and staggering towards the changing room in a sweaty mess. I realise now that nobody cares what anyone else is doing in the gym, but this is number 268 on a long list of crazy things I used to believe about myself. Number 874 is that my ankles are too fat to wear normal socks!

Eventually I built up the courage to step onto the treadmill. I soon realised I could reduce the amount of time I needed to be in the gym, just by running. In those early days, it was all about the fastest way to burn calories. Towards the end of 2013, I’d built up to 30 minutes running (pace or distance wasn’t on my radar) and decided it was time to quit the gym and take it outside. Why was I paying to run in a gym when running outside was free? (Insert laughter from runners everywhere).

Running outside was way harder than I expected, but I had cancelled my gym membership before my first attempt. In hindsight this was probably a good thing – if I’d had the gym to creep back to, I might not have stuck with it. Running outside increased the likelihood that I would bump into someone I knew, with all my insecurities I was not ready for this, so decided I would only run in the early morning, before it got light. This threw up some extra problems, including just how cold it is at 6am in November! As well as how much my lungs burned from breathing in that cold air. Something else that I underestimated about running outside was the fact that the world is not flat. And I live in a very, very hilly area.

Like so many people who only take up running as an official grown-up, I hated it at first. Every single step was torture. All my muscles screamed! My legs were like heavy weights and every step was horrendous, I was uncomfortable and unnatural. Worse still, I believed everyone was staring at me and judging me, again. Bella Mackie put it excellently in her book ‘Jog On’ when she admits that before she started running, she never noticed people running. It is so true! I hadn’t ever given runners another thought. Now though, whenever I see a runner, no matter who it is or what pace they’re running, I feel so proud of what they’re achieving. I want to cheer them on like it's race day. I also get mildly jealous, even if I’ve already been for a run that day. That’s not something I ever thought I would say.

Despite the cold, the burning lungs and the aching legs, I kept going. Something clicked and as I was heading out at 6am two or three times a week to run 3 miles. I even started to look forward to it. Not the run itself, but the feeling afterwards. That post-run feeling was kind of wonderful and it was starting to get addictive. In fact, I got so hooked that one night, over a couple of bottles of wine, I convinced a friend to sign up to a local 10K race. At that point I had never ran further than 3 miles. Believing 3 miles was equal to 5km I was already half way there in training, wasn’t I? That pesky 0.12 still gets me every single time. I don’t remember a lot about training for that race, but I definitely didn’t run further than 5 miles, thinking I only had one extra mile to find on the day!

Before I knew it race day was upon us and I was nervous. Really nervous. 10km is a long way and I had to run the whole blooming thing! I remember arriving at the registration hall, the smell of Deep Heat, runners warming up everywhere, fiddling with my safety pins as I tried to attach my number in a vaguely straight line. What was I doing? I felt so awkward and out of place it was unreal. I don’t know what I was expecting but I wasn’t prepared to feel like I didn’t belong.

Heading to the start line all the nervous excitement increased ten times and I realised there was no turning back. Waiting around in the cold for what seemed like an eternity, all the while wishing I’d nipped to the loo one last time… Slowly, the people in front of me started to shuffle forwards, we began to cross the start line and I was running my first ever race. I stayed with my friend until around 8km when I couldn’t keep up any more and she powered off into the distance. I was tired, my legs were aching, I had ran further than ever before but I was resolute in my determination, no way was I going to stop! So I kept going. I just kept going, wishing it would soon be over. I began to question why I thought it was a good idea to run this far. All the while wondering if everyone in the crowd thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew? That's number 362 on my list, just in case you were wondering.

Through all my pain I could see the finish line. I’d love to tell you this gave me a second wind and I picked up the pace to a sprint finish, but this is not a story book, this is my life. What actually happened when I finally saw the finish line was I almost cried. It seemed so very far away. How far did I still have left to run? This race is one of the crueller ones. It plays a trick on you towards the end. You can see the finish line but still have to run around a field before you actually get there – I’ve since realised there are lots of races like this. And I can confirm I will always hate it.

After the race, despite being beaten by a 7ft tall gingerbread man, I was so proud of myself I could have burst. I finished in 1 hour 3 minutes and 38 seconds and I was exhausted. I don’t think I had ever experienced anything like that. The adrenalin! I was floating on a cloud all the way to McDonalds for a victorious Big Mac and fries – still a tradition if I can fit it in! With a full belly I went home and napped on the sofa while my husband cooked a roast dinner. It's perfectly acceptable to eat this much on race day!

I’d achieved what I set out to do and I was happy. I didn’t think I would enter another race. I had no idea the obsession I’d kicked off would lead to running multiple half marathons, 2 full marathons, becoming a qualified run leader and starting my very own running blog. I’ve come a long way since I first stepped off that treadmill and onto the road. I am so pleased I did.

I eventually did get my revenge on the gingerbread man!

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Thanks to Lisa for sharing her running journey and you can follow her via the links below:

Instagram: @lisarunshappy

Facebook: Lisa Runs Happy

If you'd like to write a blog and share your running story then please get in touch with us at info@runr.co.uk.

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