Alex has given me hope when I thought my Ironman race season wouldn’t happen due to chronic Achilles issues.
Declan, London

I’m not a runner… or am I?

(Xmas Day Run!)

Before December 2017 I would categorically have said “I am not a runner”, no way, no how, I would even go so far as to say I hated it! Sorry to all of you run enthusiasts, I promise there is light at the end of this tunnel.

However, I have always wanted to enjoy running and in the longest stint of being injury free I’ve had, it was time to set a new challenge. December rolled around and Tammie our Drummond Clinic Receptionist (and general running powerhouse) announced she was doing the December Daily Dash for the Sue Ryder Hospice charity. This is it, I thought, here’s a reason to kickstart my running and I have to finish it because it’s for charity and not completing would equal “terrible person” status. This was enough motivation to get me started. I also decided to video my exploits and post on Facebook every day, quite frankly so that I would be accountable to everyone I’d ever known who, I was quite sure, would give me a swift kick should I waver.

Unlike Tammie who was doing a phenomenal 5 MILES a day, I stuck to 5 kilometres a day with a solid run walk, running for 5 minutes and walking for 2. Honestly, after my first run I actually felt ok, this was clearly due to the fact I had exceptionally fresh legs, and I went into it thinking, I can definitely do this, it’s all about will power and good technique – one of which I had down, I’ll leave it to you to guess which. By day 6, I was exhausted, emotional and downright disappointed in myself for feeling so negative… Day 7 was worse, running 10 hours after an exhausted run was a bad idea and one week in I was in danger of throwing in the towel… Except that I couldn’t. The accountability to the whole of Facebook and the drive to do it for charity kept me strong. And so it continued.

Long story short: as it inevitably does, it did get easier, 2 minutes walking went down to 1 and eventually in my last week I was running the entire 5k. I was finally running and dare I say it managing to enjoy at least part of each foray outside! I will admit, I got struck by the dreaded cold/flu that was floating around and I didn’t run for 6 days to try and recover. In spite of this, from no running at all and a very base level of cardiovascular fitness, I managed to do 5k a day for 25 days in a month (with the help of a few guest dashers along the way!) – ultimately achieving a 32 minute loop down from my slowest 38 minutes.

Why am I writing this? I wanted to explore how far motivation can take you. While I did have some great advice on running technique from our running experts, a lot of December took sheer determination not to give up and I managed to come away from the month injury free and elated with what I achieved. To some 5k is a warm up, to others like me (pre-challenge), it seems like a mammoth beast. I think it’s all about your own perception of a task, once you’ve done it once, twice, three times you begin to retrain your brain and it does become easier (trust me, I’m a living example).

So now I think I can define myself as a runner, I get up, I put on my trainers, I run – I now know that you don’t have to have run an event or have a training plan to gain “runner” status. Don’t get me wrong, I still find motivation difficult and I certainly haven’t been running every day! But now I know I can if I want to.

My top tips? Make it easy for yourself, buy a decent pair of trainers and have them looked at by somebody who knows what you should be running in, find a solid running partner to keep that accountability up and get yourself into some funky running kit (yes funky) – just because you’re sweating doesn’t mean you can’t look stylish ;). Most of all don’t worry if you don’t enjoy it to begin with, it’s definitely a journey, the fun will come!


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