I love running.
Words I would not have uttered but a short time ago.
But it’s changed my life. One thing I do know about myself is that when I commit to something - that’s it - I’m involved properly and I don’t do it by halves.
I have always shied away from exercise. I was the one chosen last at school for any team apart from ( strange when I now look back) the athletics team. I alway volunteered to run, 100m, 200m and cross country. Always happiest doing cross country - i love being in the open air and being able to take myself away from everything. I’m a creative person - which gives me the perfect opportunity to escape and think.
I seriously started running about two years ago - i was unfit, stressed and my lifestyle wasn’t healthy. I had a job which was demanding and I loved it at the time but I knew that at 45, I wasn’t getting any younger and I didn’t look after myself enough. Poor sleep, poor diet and too much booze.
And I genuinely didn’t feel happy. Striving to get the next promotion, not understanding why it didn’t happen and working to reinvent myself. It became exhausting.
So couch to 5k was my starting point - after one particularly challenging week of work and sleep deprivation i knew that I had to do something.
I bought trainers and the outfit - i thought on that first run I would pass out. Ridiculous - but mentally I wasn’t able to talk myself into exercise and I didn’t like it anymore than I had before i started.
But after week 3 - i was making progress and i ratified in my head that If i could do it in November in the rain, I probably could do it if i pushed myself.
And that ‘s what I did. Pushed. I became the best runner that anyone had ever known!
And then I left my job. It became clear that it and I weren’t getting on - everything that I had strived for was crumbling. I was at my lowest point. During this time my Mum had been in hospital for 6 months and we had got her settled into a home. It was a very stressful time - we had a strong relationship, but she didn’t cope well with losing her independence.
My life just seemed to move from low to lower. I started a new job, felt like a fish out of water and lost my confidence. My partner was awesome and supportive - and if it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t have coped.
In this time i did ‘yo-yo’ running. One week i would one week I wouldn’t - I had lost the rhythm of it all. I gained weight - drank and felt pretty miserable.
Then the day after Boxing Day last year my mum had a stroke. She had settled into her nursing home, I had seen her on Boxing Day and she was buoyant for the first time in a year. She couldn’t speak, eat, or use her right side - there wasn’t a way back.
I didn’t run.
She passed away on the 22nd January - I miss her.
Two weeks later - I put on my trainers and took out my sadness on running. I loved it. I couldn’t talk about the pain i felt - but I could run and put my energy into getting rid of grief through running, being fitter and feeling better about myself.
That’s was February this year - I feel I should skip Covid ... it absolutely gave me time to run, build my strength. I got to 14km and then injury hit. I mean really!
Anyway - I got amazing therapy from Get Set Therapy in Exeter. Sam was and is a legend, talking me through slowing down and making sure I stretch and look after my body better. A torn hamstring is not nice and I cannot ignore I am getting older and I should take care better. Which is now part of my routine.
I have found running to give me space, time and focus to heal. It has allowed me to breathe in the air, appreciate my surroundings and allow myself to heal. That makes it a very important item in my toolbox for self care and mental wellbeing.
I hope you read this and can relate to times in your life that you needed the support of something. I chose running. I can’t imagine it not being there now to give me the structure and be my thing I need to release stress and negativity.
Thanks to my trainers - you give me that thing we all need when it all feels remote and lonely.