The other day, Facebook reminded me that it was three years since I took part in my first ever race. Let’s talk about hat.
It was a 10K race which I was woefully underprepared for after a year living in Colombia, drinking far too much, sleeping far too little, and doing literally no running. I decided to do the race in memory of my Grandad who had died only a few months previously, and who I had been very close to. I committed to the race, put my declarations (and fundraising pleas) on Facebook, for all the world to see; and then, I barely trained. At all.
The race was a nightmare from start to finish. It was a hot September day, and I showed up in thermal leggings and warm socks. It was a hilly course, and I’d never run a hill before. It was a 10k, and I’d barely run more than half a kilometer before stopping for breath. During the course of the race, I pulled both my hip flexors, thought I was having an asthma attack, and stopped on numerous occasions, willing the hills to stop coming. I finished with a time of 69 minutes, hugely proud of my achievement, but frankly rather ready to forget about the whole running thing for a few months.
A lot has changed since then!
Running has since become a huge part of my life, and I don’t know where I’d be without it. I’m grateful for all the lessons it has taught me, both practically, physically and mentally. That being said, there are a few things I’d tell my 22 year-old self:
- Buy proper kit! Wearing thermal running attire on a hot September day was a horrific idea, although I don’t think I even realised at the time how much cooler I could be if I only had some shorts on!
- Training really helps. I don’t even know how much I was running at this stage, but let me tell you it wasn’t much. I couldn’t even run for 30 minutes without stopping, but I naively thought a 10k race wouldn’t be a problem. I was wrong!
- You get goody bags at (some) races! I remember being so overjoyed when I was handed a plastic goody bag filled with vitamins, sweets and most importantly, a banana. Winning!
- Go and get proper running shoes. For reasons unknown to myself, I was running in a new-ish pair of running shoes that were at least a size too small. I remember not being able to feel my toes by the end of it.
- People will get you through almost anything. No matter how horrific that race was, and how underprepared I was, I still managed to finish in 69 minutes, which is a lot better than I could have expected. I was kept afloat by the runners around me, the crowds of supporters, and especially my Mum and friend Rachael who came to support me at the end.
It’s insane to think that running, something that started as a last-ditch attempt at fitness, and a vain effort to find meaning after a personal loss, has turned into a prolonged passion that has helped me through the good times and the bad. I think the biggest lesson to be learned from that is persistence and consistency- somewhere along the road, I learned not to give up!
If you’re at the start of your running journey, I urge you to keep going, even when the progress seems minimal- it’s worth it, and every step counts!
What do you wish you’d known as a newbie runner?
Lots of love,