How I fell in love with running all over again
Before I had my children I was really fit. I spent far too much time at the gym. Extra long aerobics classes at the weekend, pilates, swimming, yoga and running took up a lot of my time. I loved it. I felt strong, balanced and in full control of my body, in a positive way.
And then I had four children. I kept up yoga for a while but fitting exercise into an already busy life was really tricky. Plus if you've tried running when you are full of baby milk you will know it's best avoided!
At the beginning of last year I finally found myself in a place where I could exercise again and knowing that I had had my last baby I felt like the effort to get fit again would be worth it. My 40th birthday was also beginning to appear on the horizon and I knew then that this year I would want to be feeling great.
So, I joined the local gym and quickly got back into swimming. I love being in the water and swimming has always been the activity I am best at, so it was a good place to start. Early morning swims also meant that I got to have a shower on my own and some head space before starting the day. After 8 years of babies this was a revelation!
And then my friend suggested we catch up by going for a run. Oh. The last time I had been running (apart from a few terrible post-baby attempts), I was regularly running 10km. This was going to be painful and wobbly and not an ideal way to catch up with my friend! So, I put her off for a few weeks, ordered some new trainers and started to slowly run again.
Before I knew it I was regularly running around our local park with my friend. We were doing 5km without really thinking, so I decided that putting 'Run 10km' on my '40 before 40' list was a good idea. She laughed and said that wasn't big enough a goal and I should change it to 'run a half-marathon.' What? Really? But I didn't do that in my 20s. How can I do that at 39 after having 4 children.
We kept running, I got more confident and we signed up for the half-marathon. My body began to change, I started to feel like me again. I felt like I knew how to dress again. I started enjoying clothes shopping again. I felt stronger and calmer. I loved the sense of freedom of being able to run and run. The total joy of suddenly realising that an 8km run felt like a 5km. And then a 12km felt like 8km.
The day I set off to run my first 18km training run, the furthest I had ever run in my life, felt amazing. It was dark, raining, windy but I did it. And I knew if I had done that I would be able to run the extra distance on the day.
And I did. I ran my first half-marathon by the sea in Brighton. I ran with my lovely friend Julia all the way. And I loved it. I loved the challenge, I loved running with all those other people, I loved feeling like I had really achieved something. I loved it so much that I cannot wait to to another one.
What a brilliant thing to have ticked off my 40 before 40 list!
PS the horizon is only allowed to be wonky like this when you've just run 13 miles!