I run because I can't not run

I run because I can’t not run and to be honest if I didn’t run……..when would I know when to shower? How would I know what to eat or when to go to bed or when to poo , and oh my goodness where on earth would I go on holiday and most importantly WHAT WOULD I WEAR?

I’m not suggesting that you all become as obessive as me, I’ve been running for a long time now and I just couldn’t imagine life without it but getting into good habits and learning to make you a priority is key to making running part of your life.

Our relationship with exercise is complex though isn’t it? That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve changing the relationship you may have with exercise, it just means it isn’t always that easy; there seems to be a continuous struggle with getting out there and just doing it.

Most of us know that exercise is good for us, it makes us feel better, it’s good for our muscles, our bone density, our mental health, the list is endless, yet some view it as another “chore” that needs to be added to a long list of responsibilites as wife/husband/father/mother/breadwinner; we care about everybody else first. Do we think so little of ourselves, because the main person who is going to benefit from exercising is ourselves, that we can let ourselves down without too much of an argument or justification?

We had a great turnout last Tuesday night, New Year’s Day with so many people coming to the “ease back into it run” it was lovely catching up with people who’ve missed coming to group through life getting in the way of running. Putting this extra session on was so worth it for all the smiling faces and the buzz afterwards; I said to everyone at the end of the session “try not to forget this feeling, you never regret a run”. But so often this isn’t the case as it struck me that we don’t make ourselves priority and this worries me, we should make ourselves priority, we make sure everyone else’s needs come first before our own.

I know it’s hard bringing up children and working, I’ve been there, done that, got the tshirt. My husband was a submariner in the Royal Navy and I was left alone to bring our girls up for huge stretches of time, no family around and as I look back, I do wonder how I did it. But I made sure I ran, ok it didn’t always work out, I did miss runs and races but I do remember I tried to make running my priority because of how good it made me feel. I would come home happier, feel healthier and stronger and able to take on the next challenge.

I bargined with neighbours, we looked after each other’s children, it was only once a week to start off with and only for a couple of hours but it was in the diary. Both our daughters did all sorts of activities, I ran when they were at dancing or kickboxing, I ran when they were dropped off at school, I found reasons not to run not the other way round. I’m not saying it was easy, it was hard and I know that lives are complicated but for me it kept me sane.

I also know that running isn’t for everyone, in fact execercise and healthy living isn’t for everyone, sometimes we need to do something that doesn’t feel like exercise because of the pressure that “sport” evokes in us, culturally we think we should be really good at sport or we shouldn’t do it.

There have been so many fitness fads over the years, I remember the craze of toning tables and slendertone, all exercises that were meant to help you tone up without actually doing anything, brilliant. I also remember the fitness videos, in fact I was given one for my birthday 6 weeks after my youngest daughter was born (23 years ago), with a pair of trainers I might add, do you think my husband was trying to tell me something? But I did it in my living room and started to feel better about myself, I hadn’t exercised since school PE lessons but over time the video got easier and I started to enjoy it and this is where my once complex relationship with exercise started to unravel.

On Tuesday night I watched as everyone who came achieved 4 miles, there wasn’t any special “new “ way that our sessions were formatted, it was exactly the same as it is week in week out. You can walk when you want and you can run when you want and no one gets left behind, the session was just worded differently; and just look at all the smiling faces.

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Fortuneately for me running still remains one of the most popular forms of exercise and it isn’t just a fitness fad and hopefully our groups make it less of a chore to get out there and do something for ourselves.