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Why I love running (ok jogging then)

So as I mention occasionally, I love to run. Slowly. I am one of those running evangelists, that preaches a lovely gentle and leisurely run. In my mind, it’s not winning the race, it’s the taking part that counts. And whatever speed you choose to run or jog is fine. However I haven’t always been this way.

I hated gym class

As I kid, I was of the geeky and intellectual type. Like seriously geeky. I refused to attend maths lessons as they were so slow and boring in primary school. Finally the teachers realised I could understand it perfectly, but didn’t have the patience to explain it to other kids. Hence I was excused along with my fellow maths geeks rebel. We hung and chatted instead of having to do the lesson. Anyway, the picture I am painting is of an academic child, not at all sporty. And we all know that gym class is compulsory according to the national curriculum.

The kid that was picked last for team sports

That was me. I wasn’t horrendously bad, but I just didn’t enjoy sport. Getting cold, wet and sweaty never appealed, and I assumed the gym teachers were sadists. For instance there an activity billed as “cross country running”.  Which was in reality just running around the block, as the school was in an urban area. Even in the rain we were forced to do this. While the teachers also did the route, they were however allowed to use their car. There was no attempt to make it fun, or even to teach us how to run. It was just “go run”. Reflecting back school did a lot to put me off exercise, and not a lot to make it fun or enjoyable. There was no nurturing or teaching, or any attempt to make the non sports kids like sports.

Up to age 33

Hence I avoided sports for most of my early life. There was some dabbling in the odd exercise class or yoga session, but nothing really caught on. My weight also started to creep up on me, and I was getting the largest I had ever been in my early thirties. Then one day when in the city, my friend and I happened across the London marathon. It was a good day, so we spectated and walked a lot of the route. My friend mentioned she actually liked to run a bit, and I got thinking, why can’t I? What exactly is stopping me?

If they can do it

Street MarathonSo my thinking was, if all these people could run a marathon, surely I could run? I went home that night with a new idea in my head. I was going to become a runner. Why not? I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I thought I could learn how to run. And get myself out there I did. So I invested in some expensive running shoes and clothes. And booked myself on a half marathon in six months – why start small? Enthusiastically I started out, doing far too much too soon. And then after a week, the pain came.

Shin Splints

Yes, that dreaded running injury caught me out immediately. It was sore. But luckily we have google, which gave me some ideas to stretch, recover and prevent them getting any worse. I took a few weeks off, and did lots of research. Then I began a free couch to 5k program This builds you up gradually from mainly walking, by adding running sections in a bit at a time. At the end you can run 5k without stopping. And then I started my half marathon training plan, which was free online. I stuck religiously to the plan each and every week. And every time the mileage increased I got scared, but then felt really badass when I completed it. Practically each week I was surmounting new milestone and ticking them off. The legs got tired, but I learned to enjoy the pain, in a masochist sort of way.

My start – a halfrunner

The day arrived of the half marathon, and everything aligned weather wise. I had a great run, starting out slow and enjoying the scenic route. Towards the end I realised I had more gas in the tank, and started to speed up. At this point lots of competitors in front of me were walking, so it became dodgems like getting through them all. I had a fab time, and enjoyed every minute of it. And finished much quicker than I ever thought I could.

Next challenge – a full marathon

After enjoying the half, and in the process shedding a reasonable amount of weight, I wanted something more. So I signed up for a full marathon, and convinced my brother to run it with me. Now this is where things got harder. A half marathon is only 13.1 miles, but levelled up to a full marathon at 26.2 miles is much more than double the effort. The long runs got longer, and harder. The game switches from physical to mental. You need to plan routes, and test out fuelling strategies. And work out when your body is saying I have a serious issue versus a niggle that you need to run through. There is no doubt, that a marathon is won in the head. I had to schedule couch days after my long runs, as they exhausted me completely both physically and mentally. But with the right training, even I can run a marathon. In the end I completed the marathon, but boy was it hard work. Along with the joy afterwards, my legs were so sore, going down stairs was painful for the week.

And another marathon turns into a two a year addiction

Yes, I have an addictive personality. What do you do after running a marathon? Sign up for another one. After running my first marathon, I decided doing two marathons a year sounds like an ideal number. And I’ve kept to that, completing 6 marathons to date. All of them have been different, and I’ve learned something different from them all. The standout lesson is that you get back what you put in with running. If I have been lazy with the training, my end performance is not as good. But if I follow the plan and really work hard, race day is much easier.

And a Parkrun addiction

runningMost Saturday mornings I can be found at my local park, indulging in Parkrun. This is a free weekly timed run, arranged by volunteers. And it’s epic. You can see if they have one near you on the Parkrun website. As well as being free to run, you get a time each week and can see all your runs on the website. More impressively, once you get 50 runs you get a free red T-shirt. And also at 100 runs, is a black T-shirt. It is a really friendly race and all are welcome, from the athletic kids to their parents and grandparents. All ages and abilities are represented.  I just need to get 25 more runs in for 2018 to snag that coveted black T-shirt. I used to feel minorly embarrassed about being passed by a woman with a double buggy and a dog, but one week I surpassed this. A dinosaur passed me. And he was really fast.

My approach

I enjoy running and always take a leisurely approach. Getting faster just isn’t easy for me. I have tried many times, and I just can’t push beyond a speed that other people can. Truth be told, I am pretty sure I have a minor medical condition that stops me running fast. Once I have the time and energy I really should see if the NHS will sort it. But anyway, what I lack in speed I make up in sheer determination and resilience. I can keep going even if times get tough. Hence I concentrate on what I know I can do, and don’t worry about the speed.

Health Benefits

As I mentioned above, I dropped a lot of weight after I started running regularly. I also became more conscious about what I was eating, and developed some better eating habits. Nowadays I believe we should look after our health. However in my younger years I was very guilty of being complacent.  In my thirties life caught up with me, and I eventually saw the error of my ways. l always say running is my therapy, it does my mental health a world of good. Getting the fresh air and seeing different landscapes passing me by rejuvenates me, and gives me a good opportunity to think through any challenges or problems I am facing.  I love running outside, but absolutely cannot stand the treadmill.

The Costs

This is a finance blog, so obviously I’m going to dive into the costs. Running can be an expensive or frugal hobby, depending on your style. You do need running shoes, and it’s so worth getting fitted at least initially for decent running shoes. My first pair were over £100, but since then I’ve been experimenting with cheaper versions and sales. I sport the un-coolest colours of last year a lot. And on the clothing side, I also go for cheap and cheerful. The benefits of having a full weeks worth of running outfits are worth it, so you can avoid laundry! Races can be pricey, but as I only do a few a year I don’t begrudge spending the money on a few races. I have also shelled out on a garmin, which I love to pieces, and it worth every penny of the £190 (!!). Knowing my distance and heart rate when running helps me manage my pace. And reviewing maps of the route afterwards is really enjoyable.

4 years a runner

So now I am an addict. 6 marathons in I don’t feel like stopping. I enjoy the high of running, and love running in new places. The best way of exploring a new place is to go for a run. I got to see more of Central Park in NYC by running than I have ever done walking. And have explored lovely churches on hills in Verona, and worked my way around the gorgeous lake scenery in the Lake District. And running teachings me new things every time I run. My thoughts percolate, and new perspectives come to me. I declare running fabulous for both my physical and mental health.

Over to you

  • Are you a runner?
  • If so what sort of running do you do?

34 comments on “Why I love running (ok jogging then)

  1. Congrats on getting into marathons! Fellow gym class hater here. Was it sheer determination that got you through the initial suck zone for jogging?

    I’ve tried it before and it’s never stuck. I don’t enjoy jogging. I found exercise in dance but haven’t been able to it all that much after an injury. So looking for an alternative….

    1. Sheer bloody-minded ness does help, but I didn’t really find it that sucky at the beginning. That came when the runs went past an hour!

      They do say running is quite high impact. I’m lucky as my joints are all good so far, and I never get injured. I tend to think injuries are directly correlated to speed!

  2. wow, 6 marathons, thats great.

    I did 2 London marathons in my 40’s and that was enough. 20 minutes running is plenty for me now.

    My youngest 2 have started couch to 5k with Mrs FU as part of their Home Ed

    1. Ah, the holy grail of the London marathon. I never manage to win a place in the ballot, and I’m slow. The only option is a charity place, and they ask you to raise 2k which is massive!

  3. Can’t stand gyms either. I like running – done at my own pace and on my own terms, so not too fussed about times. In fact this year my run miles have dropped off completely – as I’m doing a #walk1000miles challenge instead. 5 marathons in the last 5 years but doubt I’ll do another one!

    1. Cool, we’re on the same page running wise, agree it’s much more fun on your own terms and own pace.

      That’s a cool challenge, how long do you have to walk the 1000 miles? Where are you doing your walking?

  4. That is so awesome that you’ve become a runner!

    The only exercise I do is running, because it’s basically free. I know lots of people can’t stand running, but I’d rather do that than using machines at the gym.

    I’m not a runner, though–only run a couple times a summer! A few summers ago my husband and I ran 8 miles to Coney Island. It made me feel like I could probably run a half-marathon if I put my mind to it.

    However, the costs of entering marathons has always been a deterrent for me. I just like to run for fun.

    1. Hey luxe, if you can do 8 miles you can do a half marathon no problem!

      Yeah, the costs range from reasonable to ridiculous. I think the NYC marathon is the Highest, you even have to pay to enter the ballot. I’m averaging about 50 pounds a marathon, which seems reasonable.

  5. I’ve logged over 25,000 miles and many marathons. My wife and I run together about the same speed. In retirement we still get up before 5AM three times a week to run our 18 miles. Add in 5 tennis matches a week and some extreme hiking and we are still pretty fleet for our early 60 ages . Running is a good lifetime hobby.

    1. Wow steveark. You and your wife are now my hero’s. 18 miles? Three items a week? Wow, I’m impressed, hope I managed to keep going as well as you have. Impressed.

      1. Oops, what I meant to say is we run three times for a total of 18 miles. Five miles on Tuesday and Thursday and eight on Saturday. Even at my best I never tried three runs that long in one week! I did used to alternate 10, 15 and 20 miles on Saturdays but at my “mature” age I have cut back with the advice from my orthopedic surgeon!

        1. Either way steveark, I am mega impressed. You are both still my heros. I had a run-off at Parkrun with a guy your age…..he made me sprint, then I just managed to sneak past him before the line!

  6. Excellent post, which had me both nodding and shaking my head!

    I guess I was a bit of a ‘strange one’ at school – I was a shy academic child/teenager but I was also in all the school sports teams. Sorry, but I have to say that PE was my favourite class because I loved (and still love) to exercise and pushing my body to its limits probably helped my shyness disappear.

    I kept up my fitness during my uni years and this has continued without break throughout my adult life.

    The only thing I hated in PE class? Any long distance running, including cross country running! As someone who was good at sprinting and built for short bursts of speed, I really didn’t/don’t enjoy sustained running.

    The furthest I’ve run is 5k and I recall hating every minute of it. My friends who do park runs think i should join them – i dunno, I’d probably have to see how I get on running that distance on a treadmill first to see how I feel (although I’m sure I’ll hate it!).

    Anyway, am mightily impressed with your marathon runs, always admire people who do even 1, never mind 6! It’s not something I would consider doing, I don’t have an urge to cross it off my list to do! It’s fantastic that you picked up exercise pretty much from scratch as an adult, which could not have been easy.

    I really get what you’re saying about running being both good for your physical and mental health but I thinkit’s just exercise in general, not just running. I feel on top of the world after a great gym session!

    1. You are amazing weenie, being both academic and sporty sound amazing. And you loved PE, wow, I am in awe.

      You know I am a Parkrun evangelist, but I do appreciate they are not for everyone. My brother thinks about it occasionally, but the 9am on a Saturday morning puts him off.

      And yes, exercise as a whole is amazing, what I should have said is it’s all about finding what works for you as an individual, I get the runners high, you get the gym high etc..

      1. Gee thanks! 🙂 ‘Amazing’ is not the word I would use however, I still think ‘strange’ was more apt!

        Ah, I forgot about the 9am Saturday mornings…well that’s a non-starter for me then, haha!

  7. I can’t believe your gym teacher didn’t run with you.

    And fabulous job on the marathons! I’ve run a half (and you know I run regularly now), but I’m not sure if I’ll ever run a full marathon. For now, I certainly don’t have the time for the training.

    1. Welcome to the UK, land of the lazy gym teachers!

      That is the only thing with the marathon, the training takes over your life…….as well as the long runs, I ended up sleeping loads as well – I needed 8+ hours a night.

  8. Wow that is so awesome that you tried it and loved it! I enjoy running/jogging on occasion, but I know I don’t have the determination to do a marathon. The slightest hint of rain or bad weather, tiredness or a long day, and the couch wins. I’m always so impressed with those who can stick to a strict training schedule. The best way to see a new place is indeed running, my father in law used to do a lot of marathons, and hubs said as a kid he would get up super early the first day of vacation to run around town. Then later in the day he could take the family around and find all the cool things to do because he already knew the town.

    1. Yes, I have been known to alter my running schedule with the weather, it’s much less fun when it is miserable outside.

      Your father in law sounds ace, what a cool holiday tradition!

  9. Great job! I personally prefer walking and hiking. Never got the running bug (maybe because I feel like I am running non-stop with three kids and a full time job!)

    1. I am also partial to a bit of hiking and walking! Yes, you certainly have your hands full there Caroline, to childless me kids do seem like a lot of running around after them!

  10. I love the Couch to 5k programme! I completed it a few years ago but life has got in the way and I haven’t been out for a decent run in a long while. Congratulations on building up to 6 marathons, that’s amazing!

  11. I am so impressed. 6 marathons. Wow! I have a love-hate relationships with running. I hate (hate is a strong word, more like dislike) it because I am not very good at it. For whatever reason, I seem to naturally have bad stamina and endurance when it comes to running. Or maybe it’s a lack of will power and determination. I don’t know.

    On the other hand, I love running because it is how I got to know my wife. She was an avid runner and I enlisted her help in coaching me for a 5k before we were a couple. We really got to know each other well during those runs. And during the 5k race she left me in the dust!

    I do like the idea of exploring a new city in a walk-jog manner with my wife. That sounds fun and exciting. But if I had to run, I would be huffing and puffing so much that I wouldn’t get to enjoy the city. 🙂

  12. I love this! I started running after college (about 13 years ago), and have been doing regular races ever since. I am currently training for my fourth marathon. I’m not very fast, but I do love the challenge of running for extended periods of time. I’d love to do an ultra one day. I totally agree that running is good for your physical and mental health. I don’t listen to music while I run, so it’s really time for me think and find some zen.

    1. Hi Mrs Farmhouse Finance, I love it, the first commenter up for a ultra. I think it would be really hard, but so amazing….I don’t have time to train for one, but maybe once I am FIRE? The best ultra runners tend to be women in their 40s, so who knows?

  13. I am literally reading this over my lunch with a carne burrito hahahaha. Oh boy, is this a juxtaposition!

    I wasn’t the last kid picked but I was one of the later kids picked. I was a great runner for my size but……well my actual size is a limitation if someone’s legs are literally twice the length of my short ones. Now I jog with my doggos and it’s the thing that makes me super happy.

  14. Go, you! I also experienced the ‘joys’ of cross-country running (in a town) at school. Our teachers never even bothered to follow us in the car, never mind on foot, and we were overjoyed to discover a shortcut which meant we could stop for a natter halfway round so as not to make it look obvious that we’d cheated. I’ve never enjoyed running and the two times I watched Mr Fu do the London Marathon I found even spectating quite exhausting….but this year I’ve decided to challenge myself to at least appreciate running and I’m on week 6 of Couch to 5k. I doubt I’ll get to your six-marathon standards but it’s surprised me how I can actually run for 20 minutes without stopping!

    1. Hi Mrs FU, that’s kinda reassuring to know that our cross country approach wasn’t the worst! Can’t believe your teachers didn’t even go out.

      And I think spectating is much harder – you have to constantly be on the lookout for your runner, and you are too scared you will miss them!

      How is the C25k going? I love that program, it’s a fabulous introduction.

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