The week I thought of myself as ‘a runner’

I’m hungover, a weekend of excess in Guangzhou has left me feeling sick. I haven’t run in 3 days. Yesterday was ok, I went to a Yoga class which has left me feeling sore beyond recognition but today? I was supposed to run today. I’m feeling guilty. I go to lie down on my bed and the muscular relief feels amazing, so much I want to fall asleep.

Then a thought strikes me. Get on your trainers.

Within 5 minutes I am dressed to go out, new socks I bought at the weekend on my feet and new phone carrying arm band on my arm. It’s already dark (7:30pm) in the South of China but it’s cooler.

I go out unsure if I will commit to running or just to walking. I get to the school track and think it through as I take a warm up lap. I’m feeling sick. I shouldn’t be running… or is that exactly what I need?

I make a compromise. 10 minutes. Run 10 minutes and you’ll feel less guilty. I hit the timer, go, right, left, right, left.

I get past 5 minutes and feel ok. The tight leg muscles have turned into running muscles again. My breath is ok, not controlled but I’m not out of it. I’m aware I’m not tired. This is when it hits.

I am a runner.

What non-runner calls running for 10 minutes straight a compromise? Less than 7 weeks ago I couldn’t breathe, running 1 minute was hard. The early days of my ‘couch to 5K’ app were so hard! Now? I wasn’t Paula Radcliffe but I was running 10 minutes in a row for fun and was well aware that I could dig deeper and keep going to at least double and a bit more. My training was working.

At that moment I understood I could make it. I could do the 25 minutes, the 30 minutes 5K training, the 40 minutes and the eventual 10K I had signed up for in October 2016.

Yeah I was only doing 20 minutes at a time just now but give me a week I’d be doing 30. Give me a month I’ll do a whole 10K worth. A far cry from the unfit couch potato I viewed myself as.

It is not the speed or the style which you run that makes you a runner, but the desire to do it regardless of how you know it will hurt because the feeling of achievement afterwards is the best feeling in the world.

That’s when I knew I could say it unironically. I was a runner.

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