10 Dec 2015

The runs.

I can’t remember which song I was listening to. I’d switched from Taylor Swift to One Direction to Little Mix constantly throughout the nine weeks, but I know that it was badass. Laura told me I had one minute to go, and that would be it. I’d have done it, I’d have completed the whole nine weeks and, if I’d stuck to it, I’d have just finished my third and last 30 minute run of the final week. 

There was no way I wouldn’t have stuck to it. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the shame of hearing Laura earnestly congratulate me and shower me in compliments before telling me to shower myself because I was disgustingly sweaty, if I had given up and was shuffling around the park feeling sorry for myself.

I’d picked up the pace when I had five minutes left. I could see Ryan, my boyfriend, out the corner of my eye coming around the bend behind me and I refused to let him lap me. Not a chance. He’s taller, with long legs, and has the perfect body type for long distance running. But there was no way in hell that I was going to let him lap him on my final ever Couch to 5K run. Fuck that. So I legged it.

Then I had one minute left and I could sense Ryan behind me. Arsehole. He ran alongside me and we both sprinted round corners, dodging dog walkers and the pot holes we knew incredibly well by then. 

He lapped me. Obviously. But not by much. I still managed to hit four laps of the park, my goal…and the ground. When Laura told me I’d finally done it, I keeled over and promptly spent the next few minutes gagging. My body was not happy about the final sprint. But I didn’t care. Because it’s my body and I control it, and I pushed it to prove what it could do.

I can run for 30 minutes now.

Actually, I can run for 60. That's an hour, lads. After mourning for a good half hour when deleting the Couch to 5K app, I downloaded the Nike+ Running app, for proper grown-up corporate runners, and used it to track my distance to finally hit 5k. I did it in 40 minutes and was relatively happy with that. My next goal will be to do it sub 30. But then I ran again, and kept going until I hit an hour. I ran 7.1k/4.42 miles.

Running isn’t what I expected it to be. My arse and legs hurt, yeah. I feel pressured if the park’s full of people watching (spoiler: they’re not actually watching - they couldn’t give a shit that you’re running), and I sweat like a nun at a penguin shoot, but I’ve learnt so much more…

1) Running in the rain is glorious. It’s a pain in the arse when your now lubricated earphones fall out, but there’s something movie-like about smashing into puddles and something wonderful about not know what’s rainwater and what’s sweat.

2) Your lungs get stronger than any other muscle. Breathing was the hardest part for me to get to grips with when running, and I still have to focus on controlling it in the first 5 minutes of a run. After that? It feels like my lungs are sentient. They double the size, regulate breathing by themselves, and tell me that they got this.

3) The shorter the recovery time, the fitter you’re getting. When I suddenly started feeling human again instead of like a breathless husk inbetween runs, I worried I wasn’t trying hard enough. But that’s why I was feeling ok - I’d tried hard so it wasn’t taking as long to recover now. My body was getting used to it. I suddenly wasn’t bright red in the face at the end of sessions and my muscles didn’t ache for days afterwards (but shin splits are a whole different sorry story…). 

4) You have to wear proper gear. Running in converses, denim shorts, and knitted tops wasn't a great shout, no matter how much I thought it didn't matter.

5) Your SKIN looks INCREDIBLE. Seriously. I glow. I look like I’ve been rolled in glitter and given a halo. 

I have no idea why I’m a runner now. Habit? Health? Hobby? Harry Styles? A mixture of all, probably. I’m going to keep running three times a week and give myself little goals to meet. I want to end up being able to run 10k. Then a half marathon. Then a full. I don’t care too much about time, I care more about distance. I want to be able to run, and run, and run. I want to be able to keep going. 

I just want to keep going.

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