So said Norman Vincent Peale.
Back on 8th April 2018, I turned 30. Honestly, it wasn’t a great day and I spent the late afternoon in bed, crying. It was probably the hormones (I finished breastfeeding a week earlier), but I believed that nobody cared about my ‘big’ birthday. And so, at 7pm, when my daughter was in bed, I decided I would go for a run to clear my head. My previous run had been August 30 2017, when I attempted Week 4 of the Couch to 5K plan. I ran 1.6 miles in 22 minutes.
I’m not sure exactly why I decided to go for a run, or why I thought it would make me feel better… but it did. I remember it being hard: R3 minutes, W90 seconds, R5 minutes, W2.5 minutes x2. I really struggled to run those 2 sets of 5 minutes. I thought I might keel over at one point, but the day’s earlier drizzle had cleared, almost like nature’s birthday present to me. It was cool, there were birds singing and lambs bleating. And best of all, I neither saw nor heard any human disturbance. Bliss.
That was the beginning of this journey I am on, pushing my body physically and mentally. Every week (bar the 2 when I was poorly) since then I have pushed myself to get out of the house and run 3-4 times a week. Back in July, I finally managed to run 5k without stopping. Wow! What an achievement that was! I felt incredible. Even before that, though, I’d set a target in my mind of 10km.
In the summer of 2010 I completed a Race for Life 10km, in memory of my granddad. I ran, with zero training and a very unhealthy lifestyle, and finished in 1 hour 3 minutes. 2 years later, again with no training, I completed the Great Manchester Run (another 10km) in 1 hour 7 minutes. I only realise now what a feat that was. And it makes me cross with myself too.
How could I let myself believe that I was physically ok, just because I was slim? How could I do that then, with no training, and yet now I have to really work hard for it? How could I allow myself to become so unfit?
At the same time though, it makes my current achievements feel even grander. 5 weeks ago, I began training at a gym. To look at from the outside, it’s nothing special. There’s no jazzy machines, no water fountain or air con. There’s not even a sniff of Zumba. And yet, I can tell you that it is so much more than all of the gyms which have those things. And it’s special. Oh, is it special.
Over the last 5 weeks, I have done things I never thought possible. I have hurt and ached in places which have never ached (including my incredibly weak abdomen). I have felt scared, and I have felt joy. I have felt nervous, and within an hour felt such pride in what I’ve just achieved. And I’ve met great people. Really great people. All working towards their own goals in their own time. Incredible.
And so, here we are… or rather here I am. It’s 18th August 2018. It’s been 132 days since that first run back in April. This morning I met up with one of the great people from the gym and went for a run. She is training for the Great North Run (half marathon), her own goal, and yet she took the time to run with me. She pushed me. She cheered me on. And she ran at my pace.
Back in April I aimed to get to 10km. It seemed ridiculous. Today, I did it. I’m not sure if hitting 10km is the moon or the stars, but I haven’t landed yet. I’m just resetting my goals.