From my first running steps if I hadn’t had just that little bit of belief that I could keep running and increasing my steps I would never have kept going. My knees hurt, my lungs felt like they would explode, I was a big blob of spent jelly. I was discouraged beyond belief. Others can run, but I can’t! Obviously they are more of a runner than I am. No one saw. This wasn’t in a fun run or an event. I was alone on our farm trying to run 200m. Little bit by little bit with more determination and willpower than physical ability I kept going. I set small but very realistic goals to keep motivated. A fun run wasn’t on the horizon. I couldn’t even run all the way up our driveway. I was embarrassed by my lack of ability and I was disheartened by what I thought at the time was a huge lack of progress. I set goals within what I thought I was capable of. Just to run up the driveway. Once that was accomplished, my running horizons expanded. Eventually Husband took me on my first three km run. After the second km I was almost in tears, I hurt, I was tired. He encouraged me and I finished. No one saw, it was just the two of us alone. I kept increasing the distance, adding a fun run here and a fun run there. My goals got a little bit bigger each time and my running world expanded.
With each run, regardless of if it is an organised fun run or me plodding along alone, I’m becoming more of a runner. In everything I’ve done in my life, apart from raising my three children and becoming such good friends with them, I haven’t done anything that I am more proud of than transforming myself into a runner. AND I’m not afraid to say this out loud: I’ve done something wonderful. If I can do this ANYONE can!
The body really does achieve what the mind believes
As an adult literacy practitioner one of the delightful tasks I have is assisting beginner readers with goal setting. Frequently beginner readers come to me goal-less. They have been trapped in a world where the written word makes no sense. Because of this they struggle in many areas of life. They feel hopeless and are unable to dream dreams of a better future; to set and work towards a goal is foreign to them.
One of the most dramatic stories I have heard was that of a tradesman. He was fine getting his trade. He had a beautiful girlfriend who is now his wife who helped him through with the reading and writing parts. He came to get some help with his reading and writing for his two little girls. He always read to his daughters. He turned the pages, he laughed with them, he made the story up as he went along using the pictures as a guide. One day his little six-year-old was enjoying a book with her Daddy. She was silently reading the words but hearing her Daddy say something else.
Daddy, they aren’t the words she said.
This brave young Dad came to get some support so that he could read the words with his daughter. He set a first goal of being able to read to her, now he has new goals, new goals of owning his own business. As he became more confident in this strange world of 26 letters that make all the words in the world, indeed the whole world began to open up in front of him.
With goals we move forwards. They can be big or small. For most of us goal setting is just something that we do naturally. Most of them we don’t even think about and might not even recognise as a goal. For example saving money for a purpose big or small. Getting a home decorating project done by a certain date. Or bigger goals like studying a course to enable us to get a better job or go in a new career direction.
Unsporty women can run is my running story. I hope that by telling it I might inspire others to consider getting active and pursing a healthier more active life. Just of late though, my posts seem to be very focused on running events and fun runs. Events aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I would hate to discourage anyone by all this writing about them. I love going in events. I love the thrill of giving them a go. I love the challenge. This hasn’t always been the case, initially they were a foreign and anxious concoction that brought out heaps of anxiety. Fortunately I have persevered and kept entering events to the point where now I really enjoy them and wonder why I used to get so nervous. Speed, time and pace are never factors for me. It’s the challenge of the distance, the challenge of running with others when I so love to run on my own, the challenge of just turning up and having a go. Without Husband’s support I wouldn’t have entered the first one, or the second or the third. But eventually I got the fun run bug, now I find the events and suggest them and he just goes with the flow.
Events assist me to set goals with my running. Just like that young Dad, once I became a more confident runner, my goals became bigger. Husband has been my biggest fan, my biggest encourager, the most important reason why I started running, in fact for a very long time he was the only one who knew I was trying to run. As I fell in love with running I realised that I enjoy it for me. It’s my thing. It’s time out, it’s a challenge to do something I never thought I could. Me run? Crazy. But yes, I can. In fact on Saturday I ran 16.6km AND uphill AND with an Athletic Club full of fast, fabulous, experienced runners. I ran and I loved it.
But back to events. Do they help me to be more of a runner? What would happen to my running if I was never to enter another event? What would happen if tomorrow on the Point to Pinnacle web site they announced Sorry runners, due to xyz restrictions we can no longer offer this event. GASP. No Point to Pinnacle??? I would be extremely disappointed. All this year I’ve been leading up to it. Initially I was going to tackle this next year for my 50th birthday, but then I thought why not this year? What’s so magical about turning 50, each birthday is a privilege so why not do it for my 49th? So I am.
I’m attempting to say that events are important to me because they help me set goals to keep moving forwards with my running. But if I was never to enter an event again would I still run? Could I become more of a runner? Yes, most definitely, I would still be a runner. I would still clock each run and record the distance. I would still be looking to increase my kms slowly. I’d still be going to Bootcamp and to The Running Group that I’ve joined recently. I love events. But I love running more. I love running so much more than events. I run because I can, events are a bonus that help me focus on getting more out of running and become more of a runner simply by training for them.
My greatest running achievement in my story has been running all the way to my letter box that very first time. It wasn’t an event. I strived and trained, I persisted and kept running. And one miraculous day I set the goal to get there and I made it. Point to Pinnacle, I’m so glad that you are there and I am so looking forward to getting to know you. Dear darling Driveway, thank you for being there. As I scrunch and crunch up your lovely gravelly self I am always truly grateful that I had the guts to start running. There was no certificate, there was no colourful bib with a number on it, there was no medal or finishing line photo to remember that first time I got to the letter box.
Goal setting? Yes goals are important. Do they need to involve an event? No not necessarily but they are helpful for many of us. Just like that lovely young Dad, as the world opened up to him he set new goals. As the running world is opened up to me I am setting new goals too. BUT Dear old letter box, you are my best trophy ever.
If you haven’t tried an event I urge you to do so. They can be scary for us unsporty types. Work with the unknown and the nerves, talk a friend into trying it with you, the feeling of going over that finish line can’t be beaten.
You can’t be beaten, you are winner for having a go, walk, run, run-walk. You are a winner for taking that first step even if no one else knows or sees other than your own personal letter box. Each day that we lace up our shoes regardless of the reason why, we become more of a runner.
Happy running 🙂
PS Thanks for hanging on with this rather large waffly post! I promise the next one will be nice and short.