Last week a friend of mine asked me to write why I run. I thought it’d be an easy task but I found myself staring at the screen for ages agonising over what to say. Not because I was short of reasons but because I was struggling with how best to put it into words.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that nothing about running came easy for me at the start. I would even go so far as to say it was an absolute battle for me to begin with and I came close to giving up so so many times.
I’ve been asked on lots of occasions what it was that drove me to keep going back then. Back when running for more than a minute felt incredibly hard and the idea of running 5 kilometres seemed absolutely impossible. To be honest, I’m not sure even I know.
I do know that by nature I am a very determined person and if I decide I’m doing something then it takes a lot to derail me. I felt the tiniest flicker of a spark when I first started running and I wanted to get better at it. I wanted to see if it was possible to enjoy, rather than dread exercise and I wanted to find out if this ‘runners’ high’ I’d heard about was real.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened and how the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again, would change my life so completely. I’ve tried to sum it up as succinctly as I can…
Running is strength, it is courage and it is peace. Running reminds me that I am capable and that I can be brave.
Running has brought the most incredible people into my life and I would be utterly lost without it.
Usually, I have a lot of words… too many some people would say! But even I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am to have found something which not only makes me healthier, but also brings me such joy.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that running has saved my life. Some days I don’t recognise myself, but in the best possible way. The Laura of 2015 would never have contemplated running a marathon, going open water swimming or entering a 100km race. She had never climbed a mountain and she had never got out of bed specially to go and watch the sunrise.
The Laura of 2015 never ever envisaged having enough self-belief to truly stand up for what she believes in. There is no way in the world she would have applied for a role as Chair of School Governors or had the courage to go back to studying and completely change her career.
But I have done all those things. Because I am capable and I am brave.
And now my mission is to reach as many other people as I possibly can; and help them to realise just how capable and how brave they are.
I hope that people will see something in my story which inspires them and which gives them a flicker of self-belief. Then I want to help each and every one of those people fan that flicker into a raging wildfire.
If you’ve ever wondered whether you could run a marathon, or take part in a mud run, or jump out of a plane. If you’ve ever contemplated signing up for a race for life or going along to parkrun. If you ever been tempted to take an evening class or enroll on an open university course… you can. Believe me when I say that if I can, anyone can.
Of course it won’t be easy – and if you’re honest, you wouldn’t want it to be. When did anything really worth doing ever come easy? I guarantee you will struggle at times – you will definitely feel overwhelmed and you will have days where it seems impossible.
It doesn’t matter that you struggle, all that matters is you don’t quit.
The diet industry is a huge unstoppable juggernaut. Because it wants people to fail, it NEEDS people to fail, that’s how they stay in business. Society has done an incredible job of convincing us that we all need to look and feel a certain way and then in swoops the latest diet craze. They pray on those who feel lost, unhappy, lacking in confidence and promise them fast results with minimal effort.
I often liken myself to a very small fish swimming against an incredibly strong current. Because I’m not a typical coach and I don’t use typical methods.
When you study to work in the fitness industry one of the things which is drummed into you is that goals must always be SMART… Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. Well, this coach has got a few miles on the clock, a lot of life experience under her belt and she disagrees.
Of course there will be instances when a SMART goal is appropriate and is a fantastic idea. For example, a client who has just completed couch to 5k might set a goal to run a 10k race in four months time. But, what I long to see is more emphasis on goals which aren’t measurable, aren’t time bound and aren’t even that specific – because they’re the ones that really matter.
What do I mean? I mean a goal which isn’t linked to a number on a scale or on the label of an item of clothing. I mean one which isn’t related to a personal best in the gym or at a race. Some of the best goals I’ve heard recently include “I want to feel confident enough to be in some photographs with my children instead of always taking them”, “I just want to enjoy running” and “I want to be brave enough to go to parkrun”.
There are no time scales attached to these goals, often they can’t be measured because they relate to feelings. But they are the most important and they are the ones which I love my clients to suggest. Your body is just a vessel, the place which houses your thoughts, your feelings, your memories and your dreams.
Make your vessel strong and fit for purpose. Care for it, use it regularly and maintain it well – but remember, it’s the stuff inside the vessel which makes you special, capable and brave.