Monday 14 March 2016

One Little Word: Exercise

I say exercise, but really there's only one kind of exercise that I really enjoy, and that's running. I love swimming too, but I'm awful at it, and I don't get the buzz from anything else the way that I do with running and associated training. I say this about something I haven't done on a regular basis in probably a decade. On and off, yes, but nothing regular. Not for a long time.

If I could only teach my daughter one thing...:

Running and I have an extremely complicated history. When I was 16 and at college I met a boy (there's almost no chance he's reading this, but just in case I hope my memory of the story is at least close to the way he remembers it) and he was a runner. I had no tendency towards exercise besides walking ridiculously long distances in avoidance of early morning buses, but he pretty much lived for it. We started dating and I started to go along with him to the track. I don't remember how it began but after a while I started to join him on early morning runs in the park we both lived near (one on each side - we'd run or cycle to each other's houses across it) and after a while, between circuit training, runs, cycling and swimming I was exercising six days out of seven. After a while it became an addiction for him and coupled with some other issues for both of us it began to feel like something enforced. If we didn't do it we felt horrible, and if we did it we felt worse. Eventually we broke up (not really because of anything running related) and I did my best to disassociate myself. I did keep my love of Neil Gaiman, the Beatles and Eddie Izzard, all of which had formed during our three years together, but I stopped running.

A couple of years later I tried to take it up again. I was living with a friends family and running seemed the best way to attempt to keep fit for free, but too many late nights and early mornings meant I was pretty much never actually motivated to go for a run and after a while I just felt guilt whenever I thought about it so I gave it up again. Jump forward a couple more years and I'd moved to Kent, got married to Rhys and had just found out I was pregnant with Benji. Panicked about my extremely sedentary lifestyle (barring all the coastal walking I did. Kent has been a very walky place for me) I attempted to go for a run, during which my pulse rate absolutely skyrocketed and stayed ridiculously high for the entire pregnancy, scaring me back to ten lengths of gentle swimming a week for the duration.

Race for Life

The first time I ran the Race for Life (a massive national event raising money for Cancer Research UK, for my non-UK readers or those who haven't heard of it) I was in the throes of this doomed relationship, and at the peak of my running ability. I proudly ran the entire 5K (in under 30 minutes) and was generally amazed with myself. I ran it again the next year with a friend (in a black t shirt, without water, on the hottest day of the year) and nearly passed out, but came back for a third year with my two younger sisters and a final time the first year Rhys and I were together, when I ran/walked it alone. After that I skipped several years due to pregnancy and/or breastfeeding/generally teeny babies, but now it's spring and I am neither pregnant nor breastfeeding and all my babies are of an age where Grandma can take care of them and so in a fit of madness I signed up once again! My local event is along a clifftop by the sea, which should hopefully be wonderful, although if the weather's bad it could be the worst thing ever, but I'm hopeful that Laura is coming to run it with me so we can at least cheer each other on!

My One Little Word for the year is Breathe and wanting to get back into regular exercise was a massive part of me choosing it. It's helping to keep me motivated - at the moment all I'm doing is these 10 minute workouts from the NHS plus the occasional short run, but I'm looking for a proper training plan to work with and hoping to start swimming again after work sometimes and I'm feeling better about myself. None of this is aimed at losing weight, just feeling better. At the moment I often feel headachey, stressed, irritable, exhausted.... all of which can be attributed to too much sugar, failure to wear my glasses as much as I should, and extreme lack of exercise, hence Race for Life. I also feel like although I've dealt with the demons of that long ago relationship a while back, my quote for the year can be very actively applied to my ongoing relationship with running...

Inhale the future, exhale the past.  

As we know from my 9 month book buying ban and fundraising project last year, during which I raised £120 for children's literacy charity Beanstalk, doing good for charity is a big motivator for me and so I'm really hoping that you'll all sponsor me however many pennies you can afford (seriously, no amount is too small!) and keep me training until July! I promise I'll post ridiculous pre and post run pictures on Instagram and Twitter, so you'll get hilarity for your money plus the feeling of knowing you helped to fund research to better cancer treatments. What more could you want than that?

Are any of you running the Race for Life this year? Has anyone got any good 5K specific training plans to recommend?


  1. *pointedly avoids your gaze before you ask me if you've signed up yet* but I will!!!! I enjoy running origin stories, and this is a genuinely pretty interesting one so woo! Run away from the passsst haha.

  2. I haaaaaate running. I ran in the cross country team in high school but only because all the cool kids were doing it... but now I'm lazy! I *have* noticed that I tend to run and exercise more after watching dystopian movies, like Hunger Games and Divergent, LOL. Nothing like a healthy dose of fear to pick up running again!

  3. I love running too, but mainly outdoors because the treadmill bores me to death. Good for you though for really committing because often times that's our biggest enemy!