Before you start reading this I want you to bear in mind that I’m no runner . However I seem to have borne a child who does. You see she doesn’t just run, she runs everywhere. And at the age of nearly 4 she is looking to me with eyes of expectation that I should want to join her in her joy of running. That reader is my issue, I don’t want to disappoint. However for years I had passed runners up and down the promenade in Hove and wondered why any sane person would want to put themselves through what I assumed looked like living hell, seeing only the pain that they surely must be going through. Memories of cross country when I was a pupil filled my head, which was my last memory of attempting such a loathed activity. When I was a teacher the yearly ‘mob run’, as it was fondly known, where all the pupils were sent out on a compulsory cross country run was tantamount to child abuse in my books. I rather suspect my assemblies as a Head of House trying to gather enthusiasm for this annual form of torture rang rather hollow as I engaged and recognised the look of sheer repugnance from at least half the assembled group of students in front of me.
But despite these memories I have to admit I have of late been intrigued by the idea. I rather scoffed at my dear friend of twenty five years when she told me she had taken up running. In that quarter of a century I had only known her run to the fridge to replenish her empty wine glass. But here she was now running just for the sake of it. I was rather forced to reconsider whether this foolishness was just a fad when I she posted on Facebook that she was even running when she was on her family holiday in Florida. What really sealed it for me though was a few weeks ago when she was bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t run due to an injury – she was genuinely perturbed by the fact that she couldn’t get on her running gear and, well, run. But not as perturbed as I was. Where was my friend? Why had she changed the rules. You see our lives have run in parallel for years, boyfriends, house purchases, husbands, children all have come along at about the same time. It would seem that our parallel lives now had to extend to running. Childbirth was definitely a more appealing activity. However I have finally committed to embark upon the Couch to 5k challenge. Because despite the perceived awfulness of the activity I want to know what its like run with an enthusiasm that matches my daughter’s, I want to become part of that running community along Hove beach who come rain or shine are out there, I want to know what my best friend knows, even though I don’t know yet what that is . And that is where my motivation lies. You see I realised when I had been thinking about running I automatically focussed in on all the negatives. The rather unsightly and if I’m honest unattractive red face caused by exertion, the pain of being out of breath, the body aching, the muscles tired. And of course when I settled on these thoughts I had absolute no motivation whatsoever. So I decided to shift my perspective. Instead of focussing in on the negative aspects I choose now to focus on how I will feel at the end of the run, how I will have a sense of satisfaction, if not smugness that I did it. How good I would feel in the glow of the inevitable endorphins dump that one only gets after exercise. How I would smile in recognition of my fellow runners along the seafront. And so it was this week, with two rather perturbed dogs in tow who normally enjoy a gentle meander along the beach, I took my first surprisingly confident and perhaps, something close to joyful, first steps into the world of running. And do you know, the same visualisation that got me to put my running shoes on, that got me down to the beach, that kept me running for half an hour, actually came true. I have to admit to feeling rather pleased with myself at the end. And all I did was change my mind.