Secretly, I’ve always had this desire to be a runner. I remember sitting on the sidelines at school athletics carnivals, wishing I was one of those kids that was gracefully sprinting across finish lines, winning ribbons and going to district carnivals. I did occasionally get to district carnivals. It was for shot put and long jump. Not very ‘athletic’ in my mind at the time.
If you read back over the last few years on my attempts to get fit you’ll see I’ve tried Couch 2 5k a couple of times, never getting past week four. Those times I was attempting it in on a treadmill in a gym. I was bored, bored, bored and also afraid of what it would mean if I broke through and actually kept going: I wouldn’t be able to call myself a failure if I managed to finish the program. You might also see somewhere in the annals of time that I attempted a 5km fun run back in 2008. I did finish that race. I did walk a lot of it. I did push myself too hard. And I did have a small breakdown (small in comparison to previous ones) in the following weeks from over doing things.
One of my strongest traits is determination. Sometimes I don’t even recognise it in myself but just thinking about it now, I have kept going with this idea of being a runner. I’ve given up many, many times but I’m trying again. And I will keep improving each time, making the next time a bit easier.
A few weeks ago I had a ‘moment’. I realised (again) that I had to honour that shadow of a girl in the corner of the hospital room in 2007. I had made it this far and I needed to keep going, not only to float along but to take a more decisive role in choosing my course. There was nothing but my own thoughts stopping me from getting fit. Not just losing weight but being fit to cope with each day’s ups and downs, fit enough to go on runs with friends, fit enough to finish a fun run (while running, not walking) and fit enough to try other active pursuits. The Monday after that I took my backpack out of the car when I got to work so I could change into my running clothes when I finished work and just go. My office roomie and I have been talking for months about getting fit and doing things – everything from yoga, pilates, running to kayaking and swimming. We’ve done a lot of talking but not much doing. I mentioned to Dan that I had brought my running gear and she said that she had some in the car and we could go together that afternoon.
And just like that, we started. I started. That week I also started Couch 2 5k again by myself. Yesterday I finished week three and on Wednesday I’ll start week four. One of the things that is making a difference this time around is that I am running outside. I work on a beautiful campus, with a track that runs along the river. There are always runners of varying levels and walkers out every day. The track is relatively flat and is shaded in parts. If my car is parked along the river, I drop my things in the car before I start and return to the same spot. Too easy.
I saw this video months ago and I was moved to tears by Arthur’s story and his determination. One line struck me deeply: “Just because I can’t do it today doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to do it someday“.
I can’t run 5km today but I can run/walk that distance. I can complete a Couch 2 5k session without feeling spent and that if I wanted to I could do more. I’m looking to do a fun run either September 22 or October 21. By the end of the year I’m hopeful that I will be running close to 8km without needing to walk too much of it.
Bestie and Buffy have been running for awhile now. The three of us were the nonathletic of our group of friends at school. Buffy trained for the City2Surf but was injured the week before it, Bestie completed this year’s City2Surf. Bestie says I’ve caught the running bug and I agree. I’ve been looking forward to my runs because they don’t seem like a chore this time around. I am seeing results in my fitness and in my body. I hardly recognise my reflection. Where have my hips gone? My bloated, pregnant like belly? How did so many of my clothes suddenly become too big? The scales are telling me I’m still over 80kg but my clothes are definitely telling me something else! I’m wearing a size 12 Colorado skirt today that a few weeks ago fitted but was tight. It isn’t tight anymore. The white shirt I am wearing is a size 16 but is rather baggy on me. I remember this shirt being tight and my stomach stretching it. It’s flopping around right now (the shirt, not my stomach, thank you!).
The excuses I used to make aren’t even entering into my head now. Fat girl running? Yup but it’s a smaller fat girl each time I turn up. Everyone else is fitter and been doing this longer than me? So what, I’m out there doing it and everyone starts somewhere. I have no time? Get changed at work, drop bag at car on the way and get onto the running track before going home. No running buddy? iPhones and apps have you covered there. My legs/knees/shins are sore? For whatever reason, they aren’t anymore and if I get a twinge, I just slow down. I always fail at this? Just keep going and someday I’ll cross the finish line having run a 10km fun run.
I’m showing up and this feels like another puzzle piece of this bipolar journey falling into place. A balanced life with exercise, healthy eating, a strong network, routine, therapy and medication.
I hope that girl would be happy that her fight hasn’t been in vain.