|Credit: Artisan Cake Company here
Half way through my training run this evening, I realised its been almost exactly a year since I dragged my myself off the sofa and tried out the C25K app. I had quit smoking exactly a year before and I needed to find something new to obsesses about.
Looking back, my fitness was dire, although spinning had started to make some difference, the extra stone or thereabouts that I had gained while quitting fags (they say it doesn’t happen, I have size 14 jeans to prove it does!) wasn’t shifting. Work commitments meant I was missing more and more classes, drinking more coffee and eating, well, crap. Sugar is an ex-smoker’s best friend and, invariably their worst enemy. It got me through the horrid nicotine cravings, but left me with a rather substantial spare tyre and a ratty temper.
So I hit the streets, armed with the app, the dog and some dodgy old addidas trainers. I remember gritting my teeth through my first 5 minute run (agony), pushing past the pain in my first ten minute stretch (wheezing) and almost collapsing after managing the full 20 minutes non stop (trying not to be sick). But what a feeling. I quickly invested in some decent trainers (to date the most expensive kit required so far) and got excited about completing each week on the C25K plan. I was beginning to see what all the fuss was about. And I bought a pair of size 10 jeans for the first time in 5 years.
I have since discovered, that running has given me so much more than a leaner waistline. That was the first visible benefit, a very seductive one at that (no more guilt about cheesecake – hooray!), but I also began to notice I had more energy, I was sleeping better and my diet was improving, almost by default.
But it’s the psychological benefits that really have me hooked. I can have the worst meeting, be in the most foul mood or feel utterly defeated by whatever life is throwing at me that day, and I can step out the door and literally run away from it all. And in those 45, 60, 90 minutes I’m letting it all go. Endorphins are magic. And by the time I’m pulling off my kit and logging up the miles, I’m already feeling like a new person. Without the baggage, the stress, the worry.
A year on and I’m excited about what else could be next. I’ve managed roughly 500kms since the beginning of the year and I’m only just beginning to see what I might be capable of completely (albeit slowly! I am not a speed runner…yet). London 2013, may actually be a realistic goal, although I’ll stick to the half marathons for now. I’m secretly dreaming of New York…