Friday, 26 October 2012

A Brief History of Running

Today I did my first run since the Basingstoke half marathon on the 7th October, in the place where I first went running 2 years ago. 

As a commemoration of this glorious event, I thought I would give you a brief history of my running career (less career, more temp job at points). I'll skirt around the half marathon because I'm writing an article for the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare website - the charity I ran for - and will post it up here when it's finished.

In 2010, I went to New Jersey and joined my Uncle Dean for a run. It was only about 20 minutes round the block, with a little incline near the end. Muscles ached that I didn't even know existed in my legs, but over the next 7 days I believe I ran 3, maybe 4, times. 

Upon my return to fair England, I signed up to do a 5K series at Thruxton racecourse; the first race took just under 27 minutes. I came second-to-last, but everyone cheered me over the finish, including my Grandad Ben. The training I did for this was a loop around the local business park, where I was working at the time as a receptionist, four times a week. It initially took 20 minutes, until I added another half loop, taking me to 27 minutes on a slow day. Having a local troop of gypsies/thieves/tax dodgers (I think I've got my point across) settled at the top of the long incline was always an incentive to run faster, too.

In August 2010, I fractured my foot. In April 2011, I had plastic surgery. Running never really happened in between that time, and then in March 2012 I saw the entry forms for the Basingstoke half at my local gym's reception. A little voice in my head, less annoying than the one that tells me I'm a pork pie or when I've definitely overreacted to something, told me to enter it. I entered it a couple of days later and began planning how to train; the summer holidays from Uni were coming up, so I could properly begin in May and still have five months.

There's a good 3 mile route around my parents' house, which on a good day took me 27 minutes. But for a while I just couldn't push past 3 miles - then along came Mark, my Mum's cousin. The first run he took me on was 4 miles; I felt elated. I could do more than 3 after all - and if I could do that, I told myself, I could definitely do 13.1. In the meantime, I found a lovely 4.5 mile route, although I never quite managed to run all the way up the final incline. Maybe I could now...

For the next few months, we ran parts of the course and around the area where Mark lives. One of my favourite runs to date is the first time I ran 7 miles (with Mark). The first 2 were deathly, the middle 4 comfortable, the final 1 a constant push. I really started to believe I could run the race, and in good time. 

Prior to the half, I had run 3 5K's, coming second-to-last, first and last, and a 5 mile race with Mark. But I wasn't nervous; if my running buddy was with me, I knew he would push me through the hard parts, meaning most of it as it was so hilly, and we could chat on the flatter stretches. We completed the half in 2 hours 7 minutes. 

The following week was quite lazy. Then I began schooling Ernest again, and went back to the gym on the 15th. Two weeks later I felt ready to start up my Sunday runs with Mark again, but he was busy and Uni work suddenly dropped on me, so until today I hadn't run for 18 days.

Dean and I went for a 5.19 mile run around the local area; this time is perfect because the weather is ideal for me, and it's very close to Halloween so all the houses are decorated (I love love love Halloween and America does it big style). Although we ended up following a 'garbage' truck for a little while, it was a perfect way to shake off the 7 hour flight and get straight back into running. We ran past so many big, beautiful mansions with the Manhattan skyline in the background that I spent more time looking around than thinking about how hard I found it from around mile 3.5. 

One of the best parts of running the half is that now I've done it, if there's anything I'm struggling with sports-wise I just think, "I've run a half marathon, I can definitely do this!". It definitely helped push me through the harder parts of the run today. But really, it's amazing to think back to my first run here and how much I've come on since then; even the enjoyment of it has increased, as I can take myself further and further and challenge myself in ways that I never thought I would have when I was younger. 

And finally, some good advice on running: if you can hear your feet slip-slapping as you go, try to run quieter. Chances are that when you run 'loudly' as it were, you aren't being fuel efficient and are getting sloppy with your form. It also helps takes your concentration away from being tired and back to thinking about how you're running. Rooooll those feet. No slip-slapping!

Goodnight from New Jersey,
Pip xxx

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