Run, Hannah, Run!

A couple of weeks ago Hannah wrote about food in “Han Eats AND Runs”. Lovely, deliciously Brum-based food! But I know Hannah through running. Little did I know when I met Hannah in June 2019, that little more than 12 months previously, running was the one thing she thought she couldn’t do. This is a great story. With the current lockdown, and with severe limits on what kind of exercise we can now all take, maybe this will inspire other ‘non-runners’ to bust a few self-myths.

Favourite quote, and then I’ll let you read it: “…running for me is about so much more than the actual sport. My head is better for it. You never regret a run, always feel after it…”

Go Hannah! (in the grey hat and yellow top in the picture above, taking the obligatory group selfie ahead of leading a Run Brum Crew run)

Anyone who knows me knows I am no long time runner. Exercise in various forms has always been part of my life. Trialling gym and swim from the earliest of ages, it was dance in the end which stole my heart and framed the first 22+ years of my life on two feet. The social, supportive team just became part of my nature; growing up together and working towards a goal, be it an exam, competition or show.

Then grew a love for group gym classes at the end of uni through to moving back home; discovering and soon obsessing over HIIT, spin and body pump. When gym classes were good, well led, attended, they filled my need for routined exercise, a team dynamic, filling the now danceless adult void *tear*.

It was never, ever running. Even at the gym, never the treadmill. I tried to run during summers at home in our very local park when the nights were light and other friends were enjoying it. Competitive nature withstanding, I couldn’t even run 1k to said park without gasping for breath, retching and hating every second. I’d written myself off as a runner, it just wasn’t for me.

Taking on Tough Mudder with the work team in 2018 was my biggest physical challenge. 10-12 miles of hardcore obstacles and running in between. And run we did for lots of it, a feat I was personally so proud (and surprised) of.

Inspired by a work friend who carried on running post-Tough Mudder, I faced my treadmill fear and strode into my first 5k on 26th June 2018 (high five to me for insta-recording that). Shortly after, I tepidly stepped out onto the beautiful Brum canals a couple of weeks later. I’m currently lucky enough to have a little bit of beautiful nature and history on my city doorstep, which in the early runs helped spur me onto the next bridge. Each time a little further, just staying out for longer enjoying the fresh air after being cooped up in an office, the flat, the gym, and before I knew it I was up to 10km (5rd August 2018, again obsessive Insta-story recording – win). WHAT.THE.HELL.

So being competitive and for the hell of it, I went all the way and joined the half marathon challenge for LoveBrum just 4 months after running my first 5k on the treadmill. I beat my core target of just getting the bloody hell round (no thanks to the horrendous wind/torrential rain conditions of that year) (RR – remember that well Hannah. Awful!)

Why am I telling you all this, in this seemingly narcissistic blog post on someone else’s blog? Because, without wanting to be that person, I pretty much have fallen whole-heartedly head over heels (not quite literally yet) in love with running in such a short space of time. I wanted to prove to anyone who thinks ‘they’re not a runner’, struggles with motivation, even detests talking about it (I used to be said person), that even this girl who had written herself off as a runner, has done a complete 180 and now can’t do without it.

Although I’m banging on about it, running for me is about so much more than the actual sport. My head is better for it. You never regret a run, always feel after it and can do so much more than competitions/races with it.

I don’t want to be that runner who obsessively hunts to beat segments on Strava or record so much of my own body data I could clone myself when the time comes. I don’t want to bore myself or others with the intricate details of my splits or which leggings will make me run .2seconds faster.  I MIGHT push to a smart watch this year, something I’ve previously been against, but only because my armband is thinning out…

Totally fine if you do want those £90 leggings or do want to beat personal goals – we all have them – I won’t let it consume my personal chat/life. There’s more to running for me than splits, segments and support socks.

Since that 5k back in June 2018, it’s led on to some wonderful things:

  • I’m now a x5 weekly runner (although right now it’s daily, thanks Covid). Running is now my sole form of exercise – I quit the gym in late 2019. Yay for free exercise!
  • I’m a founding fan of the totally awesome Run Brum Crew (RBC) alongside Mike Parker; our weekly FREE social run around the city we love (Monday night 6pm @ Vic Square ;-), finishing with pints/softs/friendships at Purecraft. Leading to…
  • Completed my Leadership in Running Fitness qualification with England Athletics (!!!) and joining the RBC Leadership Team along with Mike & Robbie of this here blog.
  • 1 short bout of IT band injury
  • Couple of running books read (Jog On + Your Pace or Mine – highly recommended). Both are particularly poignant in reaffirming that running is totally your own experience and everyone runs for different reasons – not just for splits, Strava and competitions.
  • Various miscellaneous anecdotes; running past Stephen Fry when he happened to be taking a stroll down our canal route; running past the paddle boarding Santas in December; being a huge fan of the obligatory running nod; having to run into the mailbox early doors because of THAT gravity pull…

And so for a couple 2020 aims:

  • Run a half marathon solo (that’s one LONG run outside for the day done) and hopefully beat that sub 2hour dream
  • Champion and encourage anyone who chooses to use running for good – be it mental health, fitness, goal-making, charity, environmental, saving money. However big or small the impact on you or others, running knows no bounds.
  • Continue to use running as a mode of transport – we don’t have a car living in the city centre so I’ve taken to running places for leisure / errands e.g. shopping, cinema and nail appointments!
  • Complete a running tour (thanks to the latest RBC Leader Lucy for introducing the concept into our lives and documenting her global tours via on IG so well!)
  • And finally, something I never thought I’d say or see myself doing EVER… scouting around for my first marathon, to be ultimately completed before my 30th/my 30th year (that’ll likely be 2021 now…) Watch this space (and come for a run/chat/beer on Mondays!)

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