Posted 07 June 2021
Running when you’re definitely not a “runner”
Back in 2017 I was unfit, had two small children (a 2 two year old and a 4 year old) worked full time, and was struggling a lot with a rubbish bus commute which frequently involved the sort of anxiety-inducing traffic that could bring even a lorry driver out in a sweat.
I had watched some sporty types running near my workplace, and cycling commuters slogging up hills in all weathers, and felt most definitely that I was not one of those sort of people. I was not sporty at secondary school, preferring the sort of marathons which involved the video shop and skipping double PE. I also have a reputation for being clumsy, which is partially based on injuries sustained doing PE and putting the bins out. I can’t emphasise this enough – I am not and never will be a natural athlete.
But one evening after having a few glasses of wine I found myself on the Great Run website signing up to do a Half Marathon for charity. ‘I can run home from work! That’s how I can train!’ I thought to myself smugly from the comfort of my sofa. ‘It’ll be quicker than sitting on the bus’.
I had a love/hate relationship with the unreliable rural bus service which I would often take me home after doing a late shift, a journey that would regularly take over an hour, with a 20 minute walk to the bus stop in the first place. I’m an easily bored and jealous person, so seeing the occasional cyclist, runner or even dog walker, over take the stationary bus kept me thinking on how I could fix my broken commute.
If I was going to miss my childrens’ bedtime, I could at least get something in return?
Flash forward to 2021, and I’m now about to do my third running event – this time a 10k. I have run two half marathons and a fun obstacle race. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that when you’re running somewhere for a long time, your mind does too and that can be an interesting and strange experience. I have had creative, helpful, problem-solving ideas on runs. I have dealt with huge amounts of personal stress and life events by ‘running it out’. But as a woman, I have also had some pretty poor experiences too of being heckled by passing cars, or jeered at by men – though strangely this has happened less frequently to me since the heightened media awareness of sexual harassment and the media coverage of Sarah Everard’s murder.
As I often say to people I meet, I am not a ‘runner’; I may have better trainers, and a faster pace than I did in 2017, but I am still clumsy, and pretty slow comparatively. But I don’t care – I can honestly say that running is something I now intend on doing for fun, not just for a commute, for the rest of my life.
And if I can do it, maybe you can too?
Anna is our Fundraising Manager and is running the Birmingham 10k for BSWA this October.