When I was younger I couldn’t really run; I tried and tried, but it just wasn’t there. Being stubborn and bloody-minded, I dismissed running and focused on things I was good at. It wasn’t until I had my second child that I decided I had to do something, or surely I would become both insane and a statistic. I knew I was there; at that point where you decide you are either going to let go and become a TV-watching-coffee-drinking-junk-food-eating nearly 40-year-old without a single goal in the world apart from raising your children, OR, take some control back and say to the world, ‘Hey! I am still here if you look behind the buggies and nappies and hideously large children’s toys that have become the landscape of my waking hours. Please see me. Please talk to me about something other than sleepless nights and feeding habits. I still have intelligence (somewhere), I still want to have goals just for me, and I don’t want to NOT CARE.’
For me, it had to be running. I had to be able to pull on my kit in two minutes, be out of the door before someone realised I was gone, and it had to be quick. It was a perfect relationship, in my mind. But when I dusted off the trainers that had long ago lost any support, and sprang out of that door, I expected Mother Nature to be waiting to greet me, and to float, hair streaming behind me, along paths and roads to my heart’s delight. I just couldn’t do it. Not at all. Not even once a week. Mind and body were at war, and I was stranded in a no-man’s-land, without weapons or strategy. I didn’t know what was wrong, or what I could do.
So this week I decided I would do something I have put off for half a lifetime; join my local running club. I’ve seen them out on the roads, in their groups wearing their unifying vests that speak: ‘We belong. This is us.’ I have thought about them, here and there over the years, wondering if I wanted to join their ‘club’, and if I am honest, I was quite happy to tell myself that I didn’t. I would, I argued to myself, not be fast enough or good enough; I just wasn’t the right TYPE. It took me 18 years to wonder if they would let me in, for I truly felt like an impostor. I wanted to be a member of their club, but only on my terms. Let me run with you, but any kind of criticism and I would be running in the opposite direction.
I was ridiculously nervous when I turned up for my first night. I was fearful of being judged and being so sub-standard I would be asked to leave. How silly. Nerves aside, I managed to speak to a vaguely familiar face (a classroom assistant from my daughter’s school) the chatter turned to a few intervals, and by the end of the hour I felt I had found a new family, a social life, a way to get fit again, and a little bit of speed that my legs have been trying to tell me had not gone for ever, like the lie-ins, relaxing evenings and unbroken sleep. So, I am going to try and build on this meagre beginning and see where this running will take me.