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February 2015

Run, run as fast as you can

Guest columnist Lindsay Bond O’Neill shares her love of the open road.

I don’t feel like a runner. But I am a runner. You too can discover the joy of running. You can find out how easy it is to take some exercise by simply running out your front door. You don’t need expensive kit or equipment. You don’t need a personal trainer. You don’t need to go to a gym. You can clear your head and improve your mental, as well as your physical, health. You too can become a runner.

A few months ago I completed my first marathon. Marathon running is not for everyone. Running, on the other hand, is. Running is something almost anyone can do. I wanted to write this column to encourage others to give it a try. If you think you can’t, you’re probably wrong. Less than three years ago, the only running I had ever done since my school days was running after a bus or my children. I was trying to shift the baby weight and get fit and was fed up paying huge amounts of money to a gym. Inspired by my sisters, I decided to give running a go. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to progress from initially alternating running with walking, to being able to run continually for half an hour at a time. My next challenge was to run a 10km charity race. I really didn’t believe it would be possible after only a few months of training; but it was.

Why is running so amazing? It’s great, cheap exercise. You get a quick endorphin hit almost immediately. It gets you outside in the fresh air, which is incredible for your mental health. An interesting panel discussion I heard on the radio recently was with a group of people who were relatively new to running. One of them admitted that although it was sometimes hard to find the motivation to get out the door, once he was outside it was easy. He summed it up by declaring that he had never gone on a run that he regretted.

I never intended to go beyond the 10km distance. I was proud of that achievement but somehow last year a crazy idea entered my head and refused to go away. Instead it niggled and niggled away until finally I voiced and acknowledged it. I wanted to run a marathon. One of my sisters has run three marathons, and I cheered her on at each of them. And each time, as I watched the tired and pained expressions on competitors’ faces, the same thoughts had run through my head – that I was not that kind of runner. I had the most incredible admiration for them, I envied them a little, and I thought they were all just a little bit mad. But I was not that kind of runner. And yet…here I am…now a marathon runner.

Over the past months, I have entered a completely new world. A world where you become fixated with hydration levels, training schedules, long run planning, blisters, isotonic drinks, gels and energy bars. A world where you spend more on a high impact support bra than you’d normally consider spending on a decent handbag! A bizarre world where you give up those Friday evening glasses of wine after a long week so that the next morning you can voluntarily get up earlier than the rest of the family and head out for four to five long hours pounding the streets. My precious two mornings off are spent in exercise classes in high octane workouts or running up hills.

What did I gain? Naturally I gained a good fitness level. But I also gained pride and confidence in myself for reaching out towards something I never thought achievable. I was never athletic or particularly sporty. Even in school, I only made the lower teams, if at all, and usually that was as a sub.
But now, here I am, a runner. When I fill in the registration form for races, it asks for the ‘athlete’s’ signature. I get a great kick out of that! I found this quote on the internet and it sums up how I feel when I hit the imaginary (but very real) wall when out running – “I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me.”
Here’s another quote that might work for you. “No matter how slow you go, you’re always lapping someone on the couch!” Happy running!

Lindsay Bond O’Neill is a mum of three working part-time in marketing and event management. In her spare time she runs and reads (not at the same time) volunteers on two committees and sings in a gospel choir.
Contact Lindsay at E: strugglingwithjuggling@gmail.com

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