Since having children, I’d put my own health and fitness to the bottom of the pile of priorities which meant that I pretty much did no regular exercise. I’d had half attempts at the latest fitness videos that promised to make me look like a toned goddess in only 5 minutes a day, and had several failed starts at running (I don’t recommend trying to start any outdoor sporting activity in the midst of a cold, wet and dark winter if you`re a fitness-phobe like I was – it does nothing for the motivation!).
But on a drunken evening celebrating my 40th birthday, I announced (slurred probably) to my friends that this was the year I was going to get fit and start running again. I used to run pre-children, but that stopped when I was pregnant with my first child. To be honest, I`d forgotten about that announcement until I received a text message a couple of weeks later from one of my friends who had volunteered me for a couch to 5k running club at the local leisure centre. My initial reaction was to respond with a big, fat `I don`t think so!` message but after a sit down and cold sweat, I decided that maybe it wasn`t such a bad thing. I did need to get fit. We`d all be beginners together and it would be an opportunity to see my friend who had also been volunteered. If nothing else, we could always run to the local pub together for a glass of wine.
So a couple of weeks later, I dutifully dusted off my running shoes, squeezed myself into my old running kit (and I mean squeezed!) and got ready for our first running session. To my surprise, it wasn’t completely horrendous. I managed to finish the session without keeling over and met some lovely people in the process. That was ten months ago. Since then I’ve achieved the 5k and a bit more, taken part in a fun run and trained in rain, snow, fog and hail. I had the running bug!
A pain in the back
For the last 4 weeks, my exercise regime has been rudely halted by an old back injury coming back to haunt me (that will teach me for lifting my not-so-light-now 4-year-old!). Up until that point, I had been enjoying my new-found love of exercise. I’m not a fitness fanatic by any stretch of the imagination but I had started to look forward to my running sessions during the week.
At first, I thought my back would get better by itself as it has in the past but a couple of weeks went by and it started to get worse. I realised that I needed some professional help. Thankfully I have found a fantastic physio who is helping to fix me, and who assures me that my running career isn’t over. It may take a little while to get back into it but I’m determined to start again once my back is fit enough.
Realising I need exercise in my life
If this past month has taught me anything, it’s that I need to exercise. I hadn’t really fully appreciated the positive impact running was having on my life until I couldn’t do it any more. My mood, energy levels and focus have all been affected since I had to stop. Those lovely endorphins that are released when I run make me a happier person. When I’m running, I literally feel the stresses and strains falling away and I miss that feeling. I love the sense of achievement when I’ve finished a run, particularly on a cold or wet day. I miss the ‘me time’ that running gives me and how I can lose myself in my own thoughts when I’m pounding the country lanes. And when I’m working, there’s nothing like a lunchtime run to recharge the batteries and stop the post-lunch dip. When I exercise, I just feel healthier. Over the last month I’ve felt sluggish, my tolerance levels are lower and I find myself eating more biscuits!
I’ve realised that exercise is incredibly important to both my mental and physical wellbeing. How often do we read or hear that exercise is great for boosting mood, reducing stress and generally making us healthier. I knew the theory but it wasn`t until I experienced the effects of exercise (or not exercising) that I fully appreciated the positive power of exercise. I’m sure that having an injury has affected my mood to a certain degree, but I’m sure the lack of exercise has played a big part.
Changing the way I think about exercise
I now realise that exercise is something I have to do, but more importantly, something I want to do. I want to feel fit and healthy and I’m determined to get my running shoes on again. I’ve really changed my attitude to exercise. I used to think of exercise as something other people did and why on earth would I want to be seen in public in lycra?! I now see it as an essential part of my life (exercise, not lycra) and something that I need to make time for. For now I’ll focus on getting this old back of mine in working order, but I can’t wait to get back to some proper exercise again.