Running: At the beginning of the road

I’ve never been an overly sporty person.  I used to play basketball in school as a teenager, and really enjoyed it, but when the training schedule increased to clash with the drama club, acting immediately won.  Since then the only forms of exercise that I have done are yoga and pilates.  Both of these are amazing forms of exercise with such incredible benefits. Recently however, I felt that for my own health and well being, I should start doing some cardio to boost my overall fitness.

I used to look at people running and think that I would never and could never be a runner.  It was only when my boyfriend began running, and loving it, that his enthusiasm and encouragement ignited a spark in me.  I realised that there was nothing different between myself and those people who often sprint past me on my way to the bus stop every day.  The idea that potentially I too could train my body to run a marathon really appealed to me.  I wanted to transform my fitness.

I bought my first pair of running shoes, Nike free runs, which I have found really comfortable and great to run in, though admittedly I have never ran in anything else so maybe I just got sucked in by a marketing ploy!  I began in June and since then I have ran 8 times, sometimes with several weeks in between as life and laziness got in the way.

I am therefore still astounded by my level of progress.  This astonishing progress is nothing to do with any sort of talent as a runner, but just with my being unaware of how quickly you can train your body to become fitter.  When I did my first run, I had to stop about every minute, as I had completely lost my breath and was almost getting a pain in my chest.  8 runs later, and I am improving more each time.  Yesterday I managed 3.4km in twenty minutes before I felt that I had to stop.  Before I started running I read that it is one of the best activities to see improvements in your fitness fast.  Given my experience, I would definitely say that is true.
The other aspect I love about it is the fact that it requires not just physical stamina, but mental stamina, and perhaps the latter even more so.  I am still working on that voice inside my head telling me to stop running when I’m feeling tired, and fascinated by the fact that once I decide to ignore it, I can go on another couple hundred metres no problem.  Not only is it a challenge for my body, but a challenge for my mind, and something so beneficial for a person like me, who often struggles with anxiety.  The endorphins, progress, challenge and satisfaction are doing wonders for my mental health, let alone my physical. (Though I have yet to experience anything like the endorphins achieved when lying in the final asana after an hour and half of Bikram yoga!)
With all this in mind, I have signed up to do a charity 5km run in 4 weeks! It is in aid of the Dublin Simon Community which is an Irish based charity which provides support services and emergency accommodation to help prevent homelessness in the country.  I used to work in homeless emergency accommodation myself, so as an added bonus this is a cause which I am already passionate about.  I don’t care how long it will take me to complete it, I am just hoping to be able to run (or even jog if necessary) the whole thing without stopping, although I will still be proud of myself if I need to pause a couple of times. I plan to run 4 times a week until then (with a 5 day break in Budapest in between, whooo!) in the hopes of getting closer to my 5km target.  I am aware that the fast progress which I have seen to date may slow down over the weeks, but I am curious as to what improvement I will see by then!

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