Stop press – I’m run-inspired! I know. You’re probably thinking WTF, but guess what I love running. Well I do now. It hasn’t always been the case!
I went to high school in New Zealand. This is possibly where my deep hatred for running began. I recall a battery of annual beep tests in the gym, and then there was the dreaded cross country. I can safely say that the images of my PE teacher screaming “RUN!” cemented my hate of running. Now as a teacher, I ironically find myself trying to coax my students to run and participate in athletic events and funnily enough my new fitness obsession has created a new interest in running. Yes, I actually love running now.
I know I know…anyone who’s actually known me for a long time will find my “I love running” confession a little hard to believe. Yeah OK, I’m still not good at running and I do struggle with distance, but I certainly don’t hate it.
I’ve even become so addicted to working out of late and challenging myself physically that I’d signed myself for a 5K charity run, which I managed surprising well…I mean I didn’t collapse in a heap when I’d completed it.
So how did my journey to “I love running” come about?
It’s a long story…part of it was to keep me sane through an incredibly tough period of my life and part of me was that I previously was looking at running in the wrong way.
When I was younger, I was a great netballer, so much so I played representative netball for a few years, but this never required me to run long-distance. Secondly, I’d never learned how to run properly before. No one had ever taught me – gym teachers take note!
My PE lessons never prepared me to be a good runner. In fact, if I’m going to be totally honest, my high school PE classes put me off running. Running was a chore and you’d never in a million years have heard me say “I love running”; it was quite the opposite.
In retrospect, if I’d been introduced to running in a different way and learnt how to build up endurance slowly and safely, I may have looked at things in a different light. Since I’ve taken up running, I’ve learnt endurance in running is important. For my high school PE teacher running a few miles or so was a walk in the park, but for non-runners like me it was hell on earth.
Stupid little things such as the running basics may have changed the way I perceived running. Getting the stitch while running was another thing that often prevented me from going the distance, but with a simple change of running breathing techniques and pace, I wouldn’t have had to endure that.
Another thing I wasn’t taught was proper stretching techniques for running. This often resulted in twisted ankles and other running-related injuries. My PE teacher often thought I was faking it to get out of running (that was only half the time).
The thing that’s honestly made me now say “I love running” is the mental benefits of running. There’s no better way of clearing the mind (apart from the punching bags at boot camp). There are so many mental health benefits of running, and the results for me have been incredible – it’s taught me to be even more mindful. On a personal level, running has reduced my anxiety levels. I used to wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks, and although they still haunt me from time to time, they’re definitely not as frequent. In short, running has taught me to keep pushing forward, even during the shittiest of times.
I know there’s always going to be people who hate running. It’s just like how I hate doing laps of a swimming pool (I’d much rather be fighting the waves of the ocean). But saying “I love running” has made me even more determined to conquer my running goals, and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m no quitter, so watch this space!