Someone asked me recently why I don’t mention my running times on here or on Instagram posts… Or anywhere, actually.
I’m not embarrassed of my times; it’s just that, for me, that’s not what running is all about.
I have asthma, dodgy knees, scar tissue damage in my right calf; and get occassional pains around my heart when running, which no ECG or Doctor can get to the bottom of.
So, running is a challenge and always has been. I’ve been running since Secondary School and started taking part in events seven years ago in 2011, with my PBs sitting at 50mins for a 10K and 2:01 for a Half Marathon, which I’m totally indifferent about. I don’t aim to ‘beat’ those times. It could take me three hours to complete a 10K and I wouldn’t mind.
I run because it empties my brain and makes me think of literally nothing. I listen to music and sing along in my head, and I love it. Running is like a Time Out from life. There have been times where I’ve been feeling really stressed, or been about to lose my temper, and have just pulled on my trainers and gone out for run. It’s an instant Happy Pill and I come back with a clear head and full of endorphins. Plus, I work hard and the last thing I want to do is add office-style objectives into a hobby which relaxes me.
I know my Physiotherapist quite well and have become a master at taping my legs up, and I had an asthma check-up recently because I keep wheezing and coughing after running. Running is definitely not easy for me and never has been – it’s a challenge and it can hurt, but at the same time it makes me happy and makes me feel good, so as long as I can cross the finish line, that’s all that matters.
Having said that, I’ve haven’t been to my Tunbridge Wells Harriers running club since January (I still complete long runs, just on my own) because the last time I went, an older lady running at the same pace as me spent the whole hour telling me that I should be faster for my age and should “be up there with the young ones”, and lectured me on training properly and getting faster. I actually went home in tears, which is pathetic, because I always give 100% and don’t like being judged (this lady has no idea about my list of medical problems, obviously), or the assumption that everyone wants to be a super fast, elite runner. I just want to be able to run a marathon without killing myself, so whether that takes me five hours or fifteen, I don’t really mind, and I’m still giving it everything I’ve got and enjoying myself at the same time.
Something similar happened a few years ago when I completed my first ever Half Marathon. I was really proud of myself and of my body – I finished in 2:07 and didn’t have to use my inhaler or stop at any point. My boss at the time was also a runner and laughed at my time, then spent weeks asking if I’d been ‘running backwards’ or ‘got lost on the way round’. Kind of funny, but kind of not. Or maybe I’m just super sensitive.
And when I completed the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon this year in 2:09 despite the horrendous 300ft incline and hills all the way around, someone ‘kindly’ pointed out to me that a 60-year old man finished in 1:40, and then proceeded to ask if I’d completed the run with a broken leg, which again resulted in the feeling of not being quite good enough.
Someone in the Instagram running community once asked me what the point of running is, if I don’t have any objectives or targets to work towards. He didn’t mean it nastily but surely I can’t be the only one who runs just because it feels good, and because it’s a challenge? And because running events are super fun?! And because the online running community are a lovely bunch?
I think my cranky body has done really well so far and I don’t plan to stop running unless my body decides to fall apart even more. But I can’t imagine that timings and objectives will ever play a part. 🙂