Why I run: my running story

Why I run is the first of a new mini-series on running.  I wanted to launch the series with a piece written from a more personal perspective.  I hope you’ll excuse the poor quality pictures from the family photo album that were never intended to be shown on a public site, but I felt sharing my story might help…

 

It’s all too easy when you’re new to running (or considering running for the first time) to look at more experienced runners and feel inadequate.  Maybe making the judgement that it’s somehow out of your reach.

This post is here to tell you it isn’t.

As a runner, I felt it important to share my story about why I run and how it all began.  The hope is that anyone reading this – who may want to take up running or is feeling unsure or incapable – will gain some confidence from my experience and perhaps even the drive to start their own running story.  

Why I run…

Running has provided me with an escape.  It’s given me independence, strength, space, peace, joy.  It’s allowed me to demonstrate to myself that I was capable of far more than I could have ever imagined.  

Running is the sport that rescued me during some of the hardest times of my life.

And whilst it won’t be the choice of everyone, for those who have harnessed the benefits running has to offer – I’m certain they will share my absolute love of it.   

It never used to be this way though…

Running and I used to be like night and day – never seen together!

I used to severely dislike running (well exercise in general for that matter), for many, many years.  I was the girl who would pretend to faint during cross country at school just to get out of it.  I should probably be arrested for the amount of fraudulent ‘excused from PE’ notes I drafted – especially if it was beep test week.  My own father said in his speech on my wedding day that the only time I would run was if it was towards a credit card.  (That’s true!)

Why I run. Retro image of a line of primary school girls on the start line at a sports day
Was I even in this race or had I already pretend fainted?

Yes, in my opinion, running and me were hopelessly incompatible.

There was a brief flirtation with running when I hit 19.  My mum got diagnosed with cancer and I felt pretty helpless.  A colleague told me she was putting together a team for Race for Life and I felt this was a good opportunity to do something to fight back at the cancer and raise a decent amount of money for the cause.  

I asked everyone who sponsored me to double their donation if I managed to run the whole 5K course and most of them (knowing my fitness capabilities) happily took that bet.  

So I started training.  I hated training.  I followed a training plan – run 5 minutes (felt like 5 hours), walk 2 minutes (felt like 2 seconds!) and repeat.  It really wasn’t for me.  If you’ve ever seen the episode of Friends where Pheobe goes running – I’m pretty certain that was a close impression of what I looked like.  

Plus to make it even more unbearable, I got to do some of my training with my boyfriend who at the time was a marine training for the SBS! Talk about sending me on a sickener! He had zero compassion or tolerance for my questionable efforts.  

Race day arrived and unbelievably I managed to run the whole thing.  Knowing my mum was at the finish line was all the motivation I needed and adrenaline saw me through.  I cried when I crossed the finish line – this race meant a lot. 

However, more than anything I was just pleased it was done and I had no intention of repeating it again (and I didn’t for the next 10 years).

But the kids came along and everything changed…

A few months after giving birth to my second child. I felt the need to go for a run.  Bizarre I know, given my history, but I just had an overwhelming sense that it was something I wanted – or needed – to do. 

I sorted out childcare, put on some questionable sports gear, walked out the front door and ran.  I made it all the way to the post-box near our house (about 200 meters) before I stopped.  I could not believe it, I thought I was a hero.  I walked back, nearly threw-up (but didn’t!) and decided then and there that there finally could be something in this.  

I started going regularly, little and often and gradually I built up to longer distances. 

Those runs became everything to me.   You can lose your sense of self when you become a mum.  Hormones like you wouldn’t believe.  Nobody really knows your real name, you’re just insert name of child’s mummy.  Which is great, but when do you get to just be you? 

The quiet on the run, the freedom, the surge of serotonin, the rise in energy – these were all powerful benefits I was experiencing.  It didn’t matter how far or how fast I went – all that mattered to me was that I went.  

Then I did something crazy, I applied and secured a place on The Great North Run – yes I was going to do a half marathon! Go big or go home right?

I trained hard (this time my way) running whenever childcare allowed.  Rain, wind, snow, heat – I ran.  I researched, I invested in my gear, I spoke to friends who had done similar things.  I got myself prepared.  

At work, every time a colleague might mention they had seen me out running, it made me feel proud of myself and spurred me on further.

And the Jelly Babies on the 10 mile training runs were a real treat – even if people thought I looked bizarre eating sweets whilst running.  

Before I knew it I was at the starting line in Newcastle and 2 hours 18 minutes later, I crossed the finish line at South Shields collecting my ‘finisher’ t-shirt and gaining a medal I still cherish to this day.  I even made it onto the BBC highlights crossing the line (I looked a lot better in my head than I did on the TV!)

Why I run: my running story. Image of Alex Grace smiling and holding a 2013 Great North Run finishers medal

 

And I’ve kept it up ever since.  I’ve completed 3 half-marathons, done a fair few 10K races and whilst I’ve now paused on the event running (although I could be convinced), I still run regularly and I’m all the better for it. 

Which is crazy to believe considering I was the girl who swore I couldn’t do it.

Running serves all my needs – physically & mentally – it fits in well around my lifestyle.  It’s always there for me whenever & wherever.  That’s why I run.

How about you?

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Why I run: my running story. A look at the motivation behind running. The benefits running has provided. The journey from 0 miles to 13.1 miles. How I ran a half-marathon. How I went from hating running to loving running. Motivation & inspiration for people considering running. #running #mystory #wellness #fitness
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So really, how about you? What’s your experience? Have you ever tried running?  Is it just not for you or is it something you’d like to start but feel nervous about?  If you want any encouragement, advice, or just a giggle at my photos (!) get in touch in via the comments box below.  I would love to hear from you! 

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5 thoughts on “Why I run: my running story

  1. You will see in my blog I have recently talked about running. I have written a post called “the urge to run,” which will explain why and a follow-up post from that.
    I have not ran since I was at school and I hate it then. But outside of school, I did set my own challenges to make running at school easier. I enjoyed jogging on my own I remember then, then at school.
    I have my running gear, but my running belt I have biibed with and so I cannot carry my essentials I need, so need to look up another one. I just want one that will carry my phone, inhaler and bunch of keys. I can then start running and work to my challenges. Maybe even have a go at a 5k race later.

    I will look forward to reading more of your blog posts on this.

    1. Thanks so much Liz for sharing your experience. I will definitely head over for a read. I hope you find a good running belt soon. I don’t use one that fits more than a single key and some jelly babies (I wear my phone in a pouch that sits on my arm) otherwise I would recommend one to you – but I’m sure there will be something good for purpose out there. If I discover one I’ll let you know. I wish you lots of success with the challenges you’ve sent yourself, and I have no doubt you’ll get to that 5K!

  2. This is fabulous Alex – I didn’t realise you ran and I think it’s wonderful. I’d really like to get back into running again. IU used to run a few years ago – in the morning after the school run. I would listen to my music and be in my own little world. And then I got attacked by a dog in the woods that I ran in and that put me off for years. I’m hoping to start again soon – and build up to getting my confidence back.

    1. Thank you Lauretta! Oh my goodness, poor you! That must have been very traumatic, I’m not surprised that put you off. I really hope you find the confidence to start again, but appreciate this will take time – if you do go, just know how amazing you are for trying again x

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