Monday, 18 January 2016

Just run.

Since taking up running last year I have learned a number of lessons - some of those lessons include:
1. If you run, you are a runner.
2. You are physically and mentally capable, of much more then you think.
3. Stop thinking about how exercise makes you look and start concentrating on how it makes you feel.
4. Wherever you travel, always bring your running gear!

So here is the back story - I'll keep it brief. Just over a year ago I was working in an office in an industrial estate. I decided in order to de-stress (I was hating the job) at lunchtime I would start running because there was nothing else to do. Some quotes that I said quite frequently at the time:
1. I am not a runner and could never run.
2. Doesn't walking do the same thing.
3. 5km? Are you mad?
There was a 3km loop with lamp posts lining the whole way. What I did was simple - ran between two posts, walked between two posts - the whole way around the loop. The first day I only ran about 3 minutes of the 15 altogether. I could only run about 25 metres at a time. Slowly but surely I built up the running but couldn't get around the 3km loop without stopping. I hated it! Every single step. The only thing I liked was the feeling once the run was done - that endorphin boost was the only thing that made me keep it up - well that and the utter boredom of sitting in the office during lunch!

Fast forward to now and I can run 5k without thinking to much about it. So what happened?
My first 3 5km race numbers - hung on the wall!

Actually it was very straightforward.
One evening I decided I wanted to run a 5k route. Liam (my fiance dearest) came with me. Knowing my negative way of thinking, he was right in knowing that I was already telling myself I wouldn't run the whole 5km. He asked me to make a promise -  one thing and I said yes and that was the turning point. He asked me to promise him that no matter what happened I wouldn't stop running. I promised.
That was it - during that 5km my mindset totally changed. I didn't have any music on so I had to be totally present during the whole thing - no distractions. Just Liam saying every now and again "don't stop running". I got pissed off, really angry and frustrated, sore and there were a few parts when I shuffled at a fairly slow pace but not once did I stop.

When we got to the 5k mark I may as well have ran a marathon. My legs were aching - but I was elated - that was it.

From then on I stopped making excuses - those bullshit excuses we are all guilty of telling each other and ourselves. "I can't do it" "I'm not fit enough" "I need music to distract me" "I don't have time today". I thought it was all about physical fitness - It simply is not. Your mind needs to be trained as much as your body - for me, even more so.
My local running track - Curracloe beach
Recently we have 'Mindfullness' has become the in vogue thing - all the cool kids are doing it. For once, instead of being way behind I was well ahead of the game and started practising mindfull meditation over two years ago. It is only recently, however, that I started to apply the mindfullness practice to the running. Seriously hard work - when all you want to do is distract yourself from what you are doing I now try and feel every bit of it. Every bit of an ache and pain that you overcome makes you a little bit stronger - as someone who is prone to stress and axiety I always say to myself that a run will never feel as bad as a bad day does and if I can get through a bad day I can get through the run. Of course if you pay any attention to the likes of Bressie and his '
Lust for Life' campaign and Karl Henry from Operation Transformation then you will know that one of the best forms of medication for anxiety and stress is running! If I have a big day or night out I will always get a run in that day and know that I will enjoy the day/night more because I have burned off that negative energy.
Running in Sligo
So what has running got to do with this blog and it's usual content? The last of my four lessons was to bring the running gear wherever I go. This year we ran in the beautiful hills of Donegal, a world class golf course in Sligo and in the spectacular surroundings of the island of Lanzarote. I live in Wexford so Curracloe is one of my regular spots! I know what you are thinking - are you mad brining running gear on holidays. The fact is that I enjoyed each trip away even more because of getting out for a run and also saw views and places that I wouldn't have otherwise.
Running on Hols in Lanzarote

The sky is the limit!
So, my advise for those who are taking up running. As the marketeers at Nike so perfectly say "Just do it". Stop making excuses and just put on the runners and go.
Also, for the social media lovers among you, follow the likes of Debbies Health and Fitness Motivation or one of my favourites, Joanne Larby - The Make Up Fairy - both cut the crap kinda girls who are getting the fitness job done! My owning fitness musings can be found on my insta @aideenke
Insta is great for the motivational quotes!
There are couch to 5k groups all around the country, there are free park runs every weekend all around the country, you can get a free high viz jacket off the road safety authority, you will meet people, there will be loads of people at your level, no expensive equipment needed, if you don't love it at first, don't worry - you will still feel amazing after each and every run.
My Park Run card!

This year I will continue to pack an extra bag on all out travels and see where the road takes us!
Donegal beach run - freezing but fabulous!

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