Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Why I run.

Sometimes, after a long day at work, I wonder whether it is worth the bother of going out for a run.    Quite often I wonder this despite having spent many minutes looking out of the windows (I have what estate agents would call a 'double aspect' classroom) trying to work out what the weather will be like by the time I eventually down tools and go home.  Today was one of those days.  I was tired and cranky, but I had made the effort not to get roped into various meetings after school today with the thought that it would be nice to get home in daylight for a change, so there was nothing for it but to go for a run.  

After a day at work, where I am on my feet for most of the day, I find that the first half mile of any run is pretty ropey.  It is almost as though it takes that long for my feet to work out what they need to do, I struggle to get into a rhythm and feel like quitting, but the first half mile also takes me to the top of the first hill, so the next bit is down hill for a wee while!  Pretty soon my legs are back in the grove and running becomes, if not effortless, mindless.  I don't need to think about what my body is doing, I just go with the flow.  I'm not running for a time, although sometimes I'll play with speed a bit, speeding up until I get to a certain landmark and then gliding back to a cruising pace.  I'm running because it feels good to be out and about in the fresh air.  I'm not even running because I am training for a couple of marathons, I'm running because I can! The rhythm of my feet on the tarmac has an almost meditative effect, I feel as though I am on auto pilot, my mind can wander and I can think things through in a way that just doesn't happen if I am at home or work.  
And I see great things too!  Today I saw a peacock and a peahen - the peacock was trying to impress a very disinterested prospective mate, sadly I couldn't get my camera out of my pocket in time, but I did see yet another beautiful sunset!  Admittedly, I was struggling to stand upright in a very brisk wind as I took the photo, but it is safe to say that I have blown out all the cobwebs and stress from another day at work!

I started to run for more prosaic reasons.  I was fed up of the gym, but wanted to lose weight.  I don't think I ever imagined that it would become such an important and integral part of my life.  I've gained so much from running.  I've achieved things I never thought possible, made friends with people I'd never have met had it not been for running, and found the ultimate stress reliever!

I'd love to know why you run.  Please feel free to comment below. 


  1. I started running after the birth of my last child at that the point I couldn’t run the length of myself but persevered and eventually 1 mile became 3 the 5 and have since run a few half marathons.
    I run for my sanity mainly.
    For an opportunity to listen to my favourite music and for time for me without any interruptions from a household of small and larger people
    Nothing beats running through hills, round dams along lanes and off the beaten track.

  2. Oh yes! Me time! I often joke that I run to get away from the children. It isn't really a joke.....

  3. I started to run when my lad decided he wanted to join the athletics club and it seemed silly to sit in the car for an hour. Originally I only did the Tuesday and Thursday sessions and thought 10k was a long race and a half was a "marathon". I had no desire to run an actual marathon as I though a half was too far. It did not take too long to realise that although I had got fit on 2 sessions a week, to improve and get under that magic 40 minutes for a 10k I'd need to do more. I started to join the Sunday morning runs which were around 10 miles and always found them tough. For a long time I still only ran 3 times a week, but continued to do 10k races, a half marathon and even a 16 mile trail race but still had no desire to do more. Than I had some traumatic events in my life and running became a release. I decided to enter the London marathon, fed up with my non running friends asking if I had done it, and although I did not get a ballot place, this allowed me to enter the club ballot for one of their three places and was the first one out of the hat. It was not long after that I was talked into a 20 mile fell race in the Beacon Beacons! Despite the wind, rain, zero visibility and cramp it was one of the most enjoyable races I have ever done. Just me, my thoughts and the countryside for 4 hours. That year I started running about 6 days a week, doing longer runs and found I was enjoying it more and more. I set myself a target of going under 3 hours in the marathon, which in reflection was far to optimistic and did my pace training based on this. About 6:45 minute miles. On the way up to London, there were a group of us in a minibus, and somehow we decided to enter the Snowdonia marathon that year too. I started off in the race and all went well for the first half, although to be honest at the mid way point I realised I could not complete the race at that pace. By 20 miles I was struggling and by 22 I was suffering cramp again and was almost ready to give up and jog the rest. However I did a quick mental calculation and realised that if I pushed on, I might still make 3:15, my secondary goal which would give me a "good for age" entry. I somehow staggered over the line in 3:16(which ultimately did give me a good for age place much to my joy) taking 20 minutes longer for the second half. By then I was hooked. I have continued to run 6 days a week and have roughly doubled my mileage each year for 3 years (no I won't be doing that again this year!). Since then I have done 4 more marathons, Snowdonia, London again, Zermatt and Abingdon. In London I followed the same plan as the previous year, but with a solid year of running 6 days a week I was better prepared and despite slowing in the last couple of miles made my target of sub 3 with a time of 2:58. I am now in the midst of London training again with a more challenging schedule doing between 55 and 70 miles a week. I just hope my body can handle it.

    So, why do I run? There are several reasons. Firstly, I enjoy it. I can now go out and run 15 miles without really thinking about it. 10k seems like a short sprint! Secondly, I find it cathartic. Whether I am stressed, fed up or have anything else bothering me I *always* feel better after a run. And finally, I'm a little bit competitive. I always want to improve and so far, luckily, despite getting older I am. Last year I got a pb in every distance I run from 5k to 26 miles. I also made or improved all my targets. Sub 3 marathon, sub hour 10 mile and sub 30 min 5 mile. In fact I am not sure what target to set now. I'd love to be on the sub 17 Basingstoke parkrun page. But that will be tough!

  4. I'm spotting a theme! Stress relief! Much better than the gym for that. I wish could get over my competitive side though - I'm not fast enough to be competitive!

  5. Always vaguely fancied running even as a teenager, but never did anything. Went through a stage a few years ago when I got as far as 5k, then stopped again. Started again when I needed to lose weight and get fitter to help with working fulltime as a teacher. Limited time at the moment, so very grateful that parkrun is keeping me going - the regular commitment whatever the weather and however bad I'm feeling has been incredible in supporting me at a tough time, and however bad I feel I always feel better after a run. It's a chance for my mind to chew through things and for me to relax and enjoy time to myself. Looking forward to getting outside again as the evenings get lighter - gym is fun but not the same. Too slow to be competitive, but ambitious enough to think of marathons sometime in the future.

  6. Grr! my blog won't talk to your blog to log me in properly... running gives me a chance to do something physical, which lets my mind wander and relieves stress. Hard to find time during the week atm, so the regular commitment of parkrun has been invaluable in keeping me going at least once a week, whatever the weather, and however I'm feeling. Looking forward to lighter evenings so I can get outside more.