So I'm a month into my training plan and what can I tell you ? Bear in mind I'm no athlete, but I have some tips I can share.
1. Remember what motivates you.
In January I lost a great friend and it was a shock and it hurt like hell. I had to do something to remember her and to make sense of the loss. I cut off my hair and donated it to Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children living with hair loss from cancer. People were amazing in sponsoring me to do it and the money went to Macmillan Cancer support. I also decided to run a half marathon to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. It was one of the things I felt I could do. In the futility of grief and loss it was something at least. On days like today when it's easier to stay indoors in the dry I remember why I'm doing this and I put on my trainers and get out there.
2. Have a 'beginner's mind.'
In yoga we use the phrase 'beginner's mind' to remind ourselves to practice with humility and with certainty that we don't know everything. It does us good to go back to the time before we knew what we were doing and to experience things as if for the first time. I am not new to running, by any means, but I am new to a half marathon and for me this a genuine challenge. I am pushing myself to do this and I am finding as I age it's more difficult to do the things that were easier before. The training plan I am following is a beginners' plan. I have no pride in taking it slowly. Which brings me to...
3. Take it nice and easy.
Years ago I listened to an interview on Radio 4 about running. In it the expert said that the best advice was to take it slowly. I have always remembered this when I've taken up running again. It's easy to go too fast to start with and end up with a stitch. I may not be the fastest, but I keep going. That's all I'm aiming for. I always remember that however far I've run I still have to get home, that reminds me to pace myself. It's not like going to the gym and running on a treadmill - which I've enjoyed doing in the past. I used to plug in headphones and watch a TV show. It made the time pass. Now I try and find different routes and times of day to keep things fresh.
4. Always take the weather with you.
I've run in most weather conditions. Once when I was staying in Brighton I went out running in high winds and it was bitter cold. The sea foam kept blowing onto my bare arms and stinging. I got back from that run breathless, pink in the cheeks and on a endorphin high you wouldn't believe. Over the winter months I was running with a thermal layer on and a hat to keep my head from getting cold. I've been running in the hot weather these last few weeks and it's tough, but also really wonderful to feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I run and the lightest breeze makes all the difference. This evening I went out in the rain. A light smattering at first then later full on with rain dripping off my hair into my eyes. It was wonderful. Embrace whatever the weather brings and see how it feels. There is no right or wrong, there's just getting out there and doing it.
5. The post run high rocks !
However crap I feel before I go for a run I always feel better afterwards. No not better, I feel amazing. I have to exercise. It's not optional for me. Firstly there's a lot of medical stuff in my family (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.) so I exercise to stave off any chance of it happening to me. Secondly, it's a way to keep myself stable. Just like I run the kids around to let off steam I have to do the same for myself. If I don't I get tense and it builds up into anxiety/stress. Running is a quick fix. Lastly it's easy to just put on training shoes and go outside and run. I used to feel really self-conscious about going outside to run. I worried about what other people thought and how I looked. Now I look at the scenery, imagine the playlist in my head. I never wear headphones when I'm running. I want to be fully aware at all times. I want to take it all in. I greet dogs that are walking and say hello to other runners. It's no big thing.
I'm not going to win any medals, but that's ok. This is about a mother of two who is almost 50 pushing myself to do more than I think I can. It's also about having something to aim for. Of course if it also means I get to fit into a smaller size then that's a bonus isn't it ?
I'm raising money for Macmillan - if you can sponsor me that would be fab - the link to my fundraising page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runswazi