Running was never on my list of things I could ever see myself doing. As a kid, I was the one that would find any excuse to get out of PE. Cross Country day would have me suddenly wondering if there really was a God, and praying that the Cross Country would be cancelled. Clearly, there isn’t – God never came through.
In Form 2 (Year 8) I had a teacher who thought PE was something that children should do every day – he was my worst nightmare. He completely destroyed any interest in all sports for me. If he got us to run around the school field, I was in the back of the pack – making a less than half-hearted effort and yearning to get back to the classroom to learn something useful.
Being forced to play a team sport on a Friday afternoon had me in winter, standing on the court with my arms folded – not defending the goal. In summer I would sit in the outfield of the cricket ground, hoping the ball wouldn’t come my way, wandering slowly towards it if it did.
It’s not that I’m not a team player, in fact I’m highly competitive and willing to participate in a group activity, it’s just that organised sport is not my thing. I have less than zero interest in any of it.
Ironically while most of my friends gave up sports as they “grew up”, and became increasingly less fit, I continued to remain active – walking, biking, swimming, and the occasional bushwalk.
Two years ago, I decided that I need to up my exercise rate. A change in job had lead me to an almost completely sedentary lifestyle. If I hit 1000 steps in a day, I was doing well.
Coupled with watching a documentary about bone density, as women head towards menopause, something had to happen.
Solution running… with Zombies. Because running on its own was never going to happen.
Over the course of the last two years, I have learnt a few things about running.
- Start slow – I started with an 8-week program. I injured myself two weeks in and that stopped my running completely. After 3 months of physio, I finally was given the all-clear to run again. Somewhat cautiously, I then took around 16 weeks to complete the 8-week Zombie 5k app – but at the end of it, I ran a 5k. Once… no need to go overboard and go that far again.
- Shoes – My first pair of Fila were amazing, the second pair not so much. I wouldn’t buy Asics again – they gave me blisters like crazy. I now have two pairs of Nike Run and I like them. Find running shoes that work for you – they don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be supportive and comfortable.
- Listen to your
heartstomach – many people swear by not eating before they exercise. This doesn’t work for me. I run out of energy during my run and my body starts to shut down. I also can’t run on a full stomach. For me, I need to eat around 2 hours before a run. I also aim to be well hydrated before I run.
- Boobage – if you have breasts, you need to restrain them. A high-intensity sports bra is mandatory. An “exercise” bra isn’t enough. I like the ones from Cotton-On which regularly come up on special for $10. Its a bit like wearing a giant elastic band and at times I feel I can’t breathe, but at least my boobs stay where they should.
- Fashionista – some people like moisture-wicking clothes and compression leggings. I prefer a cotton t-shirt or singlet off the $1 rack from an Op Shop and running shorts. I usually run without knickers as I overheat during a run, even in winter. In the summer I forego the t-shirt and run in my sports bra and shorts only. Let’s say it’s a good job it gets dark here early in the evening.
- Zombies – occasionally I run with music, but usually I run using the Zombie Run app. It tracks time and distance, plus has a story. It gives me a purpose for my run. Even if it’s just arguing with the storyline – “f#@k the zombies!” when it tells me to run faster.
- Treadmills vs Streets – running in the street, around obstacles, avoiding cars, over uneven surfaces, toads, hills, spiders and other the elements – makes a treadmill seem like a walk in the park.
- Thigh Gap – if trend from around 5 years ago was still going, I could now join in. The most noticeable physical change has been the change in my legs – they are much slimmer and more toned. I am also much more stable when navigating uneven surfaces.
- Freaks – these runners you see bounding along the street making it look easy – they are freaks. After two years of running 4km – usually 3 times a week – it has never got easier. I had visions when I started running of sprinting down the street – the equivalent of a human gazelle… reality not so much.
- Glamour-not – It’s hot. It’s sweaty. You will fart and burp. You might vomit. “First one to shit themselves wins!” I shouted to my partner as we headed out on a run recently. Funny — if it wasn’t a real possibility. Runner’s gut as it’s known, is my nemesis.
- Winning – There is no way I would run a marathon or even an organised 5km. As it is, I put enough pressure on myself to complete my 4km in 30 minutes. Even though I am not competing with anyone else, I do struggle mentally if I miss my target time. Especially when I have to walk the last km and it takes me a few extra minutes. I have to remind myself that at least I got out of the house and gave it a shot. And that in itself is winning.
I am a runner.Follow @paula_from_nz