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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Running? Just Do It

I’ll start this post by saying I’m not in any way, shape or form endorsed by Nike - I just like their slogan. For long-time readers of my blog, you’ll know over the past 2-3 years I’ve invested a hell of a lot more time in exercise, my health and how I generally stay in shape. It started when my best friend got engaged and I was asked to be bridesmaid. I’ve always had ‘slim genes’ yet like most people, I’ve never been completely happy with my body - who is? But when I had that 18 month countdown to her big day, knowing I’d be in a fair few photos and the official video, I wanted to make sure I looked back on those photos knowing I made a real effort to be happy with the way I looked.

About 9-6 months before the big day I really upped my ante. I’ve never been a ‘pro runner’ in the slightest, I skipped a lot of p.e. lessons at school and due to asthma as a child, long distance runs would fill me dread. So for the first few months, I steadily built up my distance from next to nothing runs to eventually covering 10-12k per session. Luckily where I lived at that time, is just beautiful so my surroundings weren’t boring, neither was the path as it varied from canal to trail and road to pavements, across rivers, over bridges and walls etc. 

It was a struggle during the winter months, as commuting to and from Manchester meant by the time I’d come home, it would be too dark to do my usual field runs. When March/April arrived, it meant that after-work runs were possible again, so I’d run at least 3-4 times a week and I soon saw the results. At the initial bridesmaid dress fitting, the dressmaker toyed between giving me a size zero and a size two dress (was she kidding?!) and I quickly but politely refused the size zero - a girl’s gotta eat (at that point, Christmas was coming). And it was a good job because at one of our final fittings, due to how much running I’d been doing, whilst my body fat was pretty much non-existent, I’d gained a lot of muscle, which in theory was great, it meant that my dress was a little snug up top. So with just a few months until the wedding, I tried to cut back on my running frequency and to cut a long story short, the dress fit perfectly in the end. 

When I first moved to Manchester a few years ago now, I did so for many reasons, but the hours I saved by not commuting and literally living a stone’s throw away from my office meant I had extra time. So one of the first things I did was join a gym. And I had my membership until December 2015 when I decided to quit. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great 12 months as there's so many benefits to going to a gym (which I’ve blogged about here). Aside from it being open 24/7 (so you can work it around your life), you get all of that equipment, a range of classes and personal trainers to give you a helping hand. But being a country girl, my heart is outdoors and as I started to ‘brave’ city running, I regained my love for it. After overindulging at Christmas (who doesn’t), my friends and I signed up to run the Manchester 10K, which reading this I’m sure you’re thinking - sounds easy for you right? But running in the city compared to the country is so different. There’s a lot more distractions, a lot fewer places to run and it’s very flat so whilst distance isn’t my issue, keeping motivated and not bored can be my downfall. 

So what motivated me? Lots of things. Obviously the 10K has spurred me on knowing I have to be physically fit enough to finish the race but I’m not getting any younger and I want to maintain a healthy figure and body inside and out. I like to feel strong and be as ‘spritely’ as I can for as long as I can. I deliberately try and walk everywhere which is easily done in the city centre and force myself to run at least three times a week, even it’s just a couple of KM. I’ve also joined my work’s running club and try and run with other people at least 2 out of those 3 runs I do a week, because I’ll hold my hands up, when I’m running solo, I’m more likely to stop because there’s no-one there to witness it or push me to push myself harder. Running club is 99% men at work, so keeping up with them is a challenge but they don’t cut me any slack which is exactly what I need. People constantly telling me I’ll ‘smash 10k’ or ‘you could do that in your sleep’ motivates me. Not because I’m cocky, but because I don’t want to let them down. Yes I’m slim, and to an extent physically fit, but running is about so much more than that. Being slim doesn’t mean you’ll be the fastest or the strongest. Running is down to diet, it’s down to your physical fitness, your breathing, your training. But the number one thing that I think success is down to? Your mind.

Sorry in advance for going down the quote route but honest to god - if you believe you can, you’re halfway there. Shut out the voices in your head telling you you can’t or that you should stop and have a quick break. Push yourself and you’ll be surprised at just how much your body can do. If you have a positive mindset, that in my eyes, far outweighs any training. I’m not saying you can get away with stuffing yourself with chocolate and booze the week before the race by just relying on having 'sunshine thoughts’ will mean you succeed but I’m also saying that you can have the best diet in the world, a great training regime and plenty of sleep, but if you don’t believe you can do it, that you can’t run that little bit further - it will all be for nothing. 

Running is like a lot of things in life. Fake it ’til you make it. Even if you’re not confident, put on a act and after a few miles, you’ll be convinced and your mindset will change forever. And if you're still down struggle street, I've wrote about my top tips here.

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