I only took this new athletic hobby up in March. Running is something I didn't especially enjoy at school, but that was mainly to do with the fact that it consisted of torturous cross-country in heavy tracksuits, or dull track work. I was quite good at it, though - one year they unexpectedly put me in the 200m sprint and I came a surprising third! This was with very little practice. But it didn't kick off any particular interest in the sport, not until on one fateful day, 15 years later, I was challenged to do a half-marathon.*
So I took up training. I bought some cheap semi-retro, semi-sporty clothes, acquired some trainers, dug out my sports bra and made my resolutions. I didn't want to compromise my vintage sensibilities, nor did I want to fork out too much of my meagre disposable income until I knew I was going to keep it up. So, I clad myself in all the above, and set off on my first run. The aim was to do two miles on the dot... I made it just over one mile before I had to stop and walk. I then made it all the way back in one go. Felt like my lungs were going to cough themselves up, but I was very pleased. The next time, I made it round in one go! It then dawned on me that I must have some kind of natural running ability. But there was a problem - my hips and knees didn't like it at all.
I bit the bullet and went to a proper, reputable running shop - Run and Become in Victoria. They watched me run and 'prescribed' me a pair of stability shoes to correct my hip movement. The difference on my next run was amazing. I did my first 5k soon after... it was hard work and challenging (even painful), but the euphoria at the end was amazing, and I was super pleased with my time of 30:35. I kept setting off, gradually increasing my distances to three, four and five miles. The feeling of absolute freedom, with the wind and the scenery rushing by, my legs powering me through the miles... it's an unbeatable feeling! I joined my local running club, the Elmbridge Road Runners. I then started to do the local parkrun, knocking my 5k time down to 25:35. But I had to admit defeat in one area. The combination of high exertion and cotton jersey was not doing it for me. Damp, and therefore heavy clothing is not enjoyable to wear. And so, dear readers, I have given in. I wear LYCRA.
Here I am in my favourite running outfit. Again, I am currently really not very well-off, but I forked out for some essentials, because I really could not go on as I was.. The Nike capris in their fabulous 'dri-fit' material hold me in, feel cool and also dry very quickly in the rain (and...er, the sweat). The little top came from a site I found though Google called No Balls. A silly name, but the clothes seem fab - a bit more stylish, but still made from performance fabrics and, importantly, they have a sale on! They even do slightly higher waisted bottoms, and they told me over email they plan to do more... I will be keeping an eye on them in case my plan to design my own half-marathon outfit doesn't come to fruition...
I like to pull a silly pose, as you all know by now! But to get serious for a moment, in the few weeks since buying lycra, I have trimmed my 5k PB to 24:01. I feel light and free as I run, so it is partly psychological, I'm sure. But it's done the trick! The only thing I really need now is a better sports bra as mine aren't as firm as I'd like (the bras, not the norks)! Shock Absorber do the best ones, ladies, but they aren't cheap! Oh, and some anti-blister socks for long runs. But I'm pretty pleased with the whole set up at the moment, and my story shows, I hope, that you don't need to invest in all this fancy pants sport-wicking-dri-lycra-fit nonsense until you've given it a go and found out if you love it. But you absolutely must not do it without a proper bra and some proper shoes! No one likes saggy boobs or sports injuries... mark my words! My super stylish shoes are made by Brooks, and have served me well. These pictures document the last time they looked clean, because moments after they were taken, I embarked on a 4 mile, cross-country slog through the South Downs. Would you like to see how I looked afterwards? Of course you would! ;)
Knackered, sweat-patched, pink-faced and mud-splattered, but victorious!
See, it is possible to look reasonably nice during and after a run. My super trendy topknot has survived (slicked down with hairspray and finished off with virtuous sweat!), my eyebrows haven't budged and I held off on the eyeliner, so that hasn't smudged either. I'd like to claim that mud is good for the skin, but in this case it's mixed with horse poo. So I washed that off with lightning speed! But the glow you get from a good run in the fresh air (or cardio work in the gym) is the best beauty treatment, really.
So that is my ode to the joys of running for this month. I am truly loving it, and learning to love my body from doing it. My thighs have slimmed, everything is firming up (though I still have a way to go), my appetite is increasing, but it doesn't matter so much what I eat as I know I will run it off! My scales display a quite worryingly high amount, but my tape measure shows my statistics are close to their lowest. This just goes to show that the old adage about muscle weighing more than fat is true, at least in my case. My figure has always been 'athletic' rather than sylph-like, and now I know why! I was born to run!
Any other retro runners out there??
* My original goal was to run a half-marathon, but the goal event itself has changed. I am now delighted to say I am doing the Run To The Beat half-marathon for my chosen charity on September 25th.
17,000 PAIRS OF FEET
...MUSIC TO MOTIVATE YOU
GET GRIMY DOWN IN GREENWICH
DUBSTEP THROUGH DOCKLANDS
ROCK ROUND ROYAL ARTILLERY BARRACKS
HIP HOP DOWN HA HA ROAD
...Amazing! I'm running with my brother Guy, who's been doing it for over 10 years and is significantly better and faster than me. He's kindly agreed to pace me as I try to run 13 miles in 2 hours! I'll be posting more about this in the run up, as I am loathe to be annoying. But have a wee look at our JustGiving page, if you have a moment to see why we've chosen to run for Beating Bowel Cancer.