I started reminiscing about my first run on my way to work the other day.
Obviously the first time I ran was as a small child… But after a decade with no exercise from my teens to my twenties, my first run as an adult was naturally tough.
The decision to start running wasn’t one that I made overnight. After dieting for years and my weight plateauing, I knew I’d need to do some exercise if I wanted to shift any more.
I’d tried the gym a couple of times with no success, and my fried Jules mentioned to me that a few years ago she did this “couch to 5k” thing. Intrigued, I asked about it, and she said she downloaded these podcasts by Robert Ullrey. My addiction to running is almost entirely his fault.
Its basically your standard couch to 5k program, but in mp3 form. This was before the days of apps, and a step up from the “stopwatch” route. It was cheesy american dance music with him telling you when to start and stop running.
I ran in a pair of Umbro football shorts with boxers underneath, a cotton tee shirt, cotton sports socks, and my budget MP3 player and cheap earphones in my pocket.
Not a piece of technical kit or GPS in sight.
I had to run in the dark as I was so self conscious about the way I looked and we ran up and down the Ninesprings cycle path – which to this day remains one of my “bread and butter” routes. Traffic free and flat.
That first run saw 60 seconds of “running”, 90 seconds of walking, and repeated 8 times. After every minute of running I was immeasurably grateful of the walk break, and by the end of the session I felt exhausted – but looking forward to the next one.
Looking back on it I began thinking to myself – I barely covered a mile in 20 minutes for that first run, and now I can run 3 in the same amount of time.
And that makes me so proud.
Not that I’m now 3 times faster than when I started – that’s just a consequence. I’m proud that I started at all.
And when I’m in that last 10k at the Manchester Marathon this year, when the chips are down and I’m blowing hard, wondering how the hell I’m going to finish, when I’m on the edge of collapse as I chase that elusive PB that will feel like the end of the world if I miss it – I’ll remember how I felt towards the end of that first minute of running, on that first run of the couch to 5k program.
The satisfaction of finishing will be just the same – because that’s what running is all about. Not the distance, not the time… just running because you can.
Do you remember your first run?