Back in June last year, I wrote about my 30 goals for my year as a 30 year old. It’s hard to believe that almost a year has gone by since I wrote my list – but thankfully I still have more than three months to do as many of them as I can because I didn’t actually turn 30 until September!
One of my goals was to exercise more, and one was to do a 10K run. The latter was a bit of a joke, really. Even though I’d done a half marathon before, I took 10K as a distance to aspire to but probably not complete.
So you can imagine how delighted I am to report that last weekend I DID IT! I actually ran a 10K race!
And what’s more: I enjoyed it!
In fact, my whole running experience this time around has been wonderfully different to the first time. Yes, I was thrilled on the day of the race, but the training was gruelling and lonely. Almost all of my training runs were solitary, and although I appreciated the free time they gave me, they were essentially a means to an end. I had set myself the goal to run a half marathon, and I was determined to do it. And once I had done it, I stopped running.
After that race, I didn’t even put on my running shoes for almost 2.5 years. In that time I got pregnant, suffered raging morning sickness for 4 months, gave birth to a premature baby, and upped sticks to move from Oxford to Bristol. It’s no wonder that it took me until Matthew was almost 18 months to realise that my fitness levels were worse than they had been for a long time, or perhaps ever. OK, so I knew I had become unfit, even when I wrote my 30 goals, but in February this year, when my jeans were so tight I could barely get them on, and I felt perpetually tired even though my children were both finally sleeping all night most nights, I could no longer ignore the problem. I also got my life mojo back and realised I wanted to really live life well, make the most of the time, and be intentional about the things I do and how I do them. So I started getting up early. I got even more ruthless about throwing away things that I don’t love so I can enjoy my home space to the full. I rediscovered my love of baking. And I signed up for a running course.
I never, ever thought that I would be extolling the wondrousness of running. Honestly, I’m not a natural born runner. And whenever I’ve run before, I’ve found it mostly unpleasant hard work and only a little bit enjoyable, almost certainly because of the endorphins released through exercise rather than any enjoyment linked to the actual running. How things have changed. The course I took was a couch to 5K course over eight weeks, starting on a freezing cold March up on Clifton Downs in Bristol, organised by the wonderful Bristol-based running group This Mum Runs. I only stumbled upon this group by putting out a vague post on Facebook asking for recommendations for local fitness activities. There were hardly any that I could fit around Nick’s work and the children. But this group, my my, it is totally geared up for fitting in with family life, and for being simply a supportive and encouraging network of mums (grannies, aunties, women…) who love to go running together, who don’t care how fast or how far they go, and who never leave anyone behind.
What can I say? I only signed up for couch to 5K, but four weeks later I was in the pen for the start of the 10K race. I got the bug. I love running. There, I said it.
What has made the difference this time? Knowing that if I want to keep baking and eating these
I need to do some exercise. But more importantly, having a group to go running with, who run mainly for the sheer joy of it as well as the obvious health benefits.
Next up is keeping on with the training, maybe aiming for another half marathon at the end of this summer, and thinking about nutrition too. I don’t think I can entirely give up my beloved cakes, but I have started to take a serious look at what I eat and whether I am giving my body the best fuel.
I have realised that part of living life well is taking care of my physical health. Our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and I think that means we are to maintain and nourish them properly. Since I let running back into my life, I’ve become more energetic, and more positive, and having achieved more than I could have imagined in quite a short period of time has made me realise that when we put our minds to something, we can really do anything. There is no reason to make excuses for not doing things that we want to do but are afraid to try.
So I’m going to keep running. And I will fit into my jeans again.
As a footnote, I should add that all the while I am remembering this: ‘while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.’ (1 Timothy 4:8)
Our bodies are temples, but they aren’t the most important thing. There is no rule that says I must run 3-4 times each week. There will be times when I am needed for other things that are far more important. And running doesn’t make me a better person. Not at all. I can’t make myself a better person, but I can live life well and to the full in the season and circumstances I am in. And at the moment, that includes running. Yippee!