Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Bee Waits Runs : Chain-smoker to (half) marathon runner


If you told me a couple of years ago I'd be a runner I'd have flat out laughed in your face. I was a chain smoker, chronic macaroni cheese eater (this one still holds) and couldn't run for a bus let alone for fun. Sometimes I'm still utterly baffled that I made the transition from utter couch potato (slight exaggeration) to the kind of gal who runs to work.

We all want to be fitter, stronger, healthier in general and  running is flat out one of the best (and cheapest) ways to go about it. I had other reasons though. I'd battled with anxiety for years. I'd done the whole talking to someone, I'd done the whole meds thing but real talk? I just ended up letting myself get sucked in to my own head. I know these things work marvelously for other people, but for me it just wasn't the right fit. It wasn't particularly great, it wasn't particularly healthy, and coupled with years of dealing with general body hate I was pretty miserable. I was ready to try anything. I balked at the idea of exercise helping because when you feel like you can't be around people, let alone leave the house how are you meant to find the motivation to stick some trainers on and get to the gym? Running was something I could do on my own. I could always come home. It was a safe start.

My first run was fucking hilarious. I all but attempted to sprint to the shops and back. I was out for about...10 minutes total? I had walked half of it and was a heaving gross mess. How the fuck was I meant to start running if this was a thing? So I signed up for a 10k. Because it would be funny. And it meant I couldn't give up and would have to train. I read a few tips (things like I should be able to sing/talk to someone when running -it's how you set your pace) and started running. Just going to Glasgow Green with my pedometer. The first week I started off with no more than 2k, 3 times a week. Each week I'd do a longer run and then run further each week. For me it was all about building up distance rather than speed. I started strength training to help protect myself from injury and before you know it I'd run my first 10k.  It wasn't always easy - hell some time it flat out sucked (forgetting to stretch, Glasgow weather etc.) but having a goal to work towards really helped me stick to my programme.

And I noticed something. I wanted to do MORE things. I found myself feeling more positive. Other than the changes in my body (I didn't become a size 8 or anything but I felt stronger and more powerful) I just felt that I could manage my emotions more easily. When I'm upset I can pull on my running shoes and it helps me compartmentalise everything. It's also where I do all my best planning. Blog posts, what I'm going to do at work today, meals for the week. It's just this wonderful breathing space where everything gets easier.

People may say you need to get fancy gear to start running. PAH. Seriously guys all you really need is a good sports bra (I wear a high impact underwired number from M&S) and a good pair of running trainers. My old faithfuls are a Nike Lunar Eclipse 2 and they were worth every penny. If you are serious about starting running I would thoroughly recommend getting your "gait" measured (basically the way your feet land when you run - the simplest and broadest of explinations here.) You can get this done at the Nike store with no obligation to buy. They will stick you on a treadmill and film your feet. Me? I over-pronate so turn my feet out (not entirely unlike a duck) when I run so I need a shoe with a bit more stability to protect my feet (and knees and the rest) when I run. A good pair of running shoes is essential and is just as important as an LBD in your wardrobe. 

So if you want to start running but are still nervous about it there are LOADS of training tips out there. Couch to 5k is a popular training programe that I know a few folk have tried and loved. Me? If you have a smart phone I would thoroughly recommend downloading Zombies! Run. It's a radio play/running app that measures how far you run and where. You can add your own playlists, build up your town, oh and get chased by zombies so, nice way to introduce sprints in to your run. They also have a wee 5k training app to ease you in. I listen to it on my runs most days (you can set it to play for either 30 mins to an hour) and has really helped me add more speed to my runs as well as making me want to go out even on utterly vile days as needed to know more of the story. Running4Women has also been a great site for logging runs, deeking my pace and generally finding tips and recipes.

Best advice though it to sign up for a run. 8-10 weeks and you could go from a non-runner to a 10k and if you have a deadline you will work towards it to make sure you don't utterly belt it on the day (it's what worked for me.) I've got a few runs in the next few months. A 10k in July in Edinburgh, Tough Mudder in August and my first half marathon in October.

I guess it must seem weird me going from nattering away about Scottish fashion and being an overgrown teenage goth to chatting about running and mental illness. Real talk though. I'm running for the Scottish Association For Mental Health in August (yup that'll be Tough Mudder then.) SAMH do so much great work helping break the stigma around mental health (which btw why are we not talking about it more?) and just generally doing all sorts of good stuff. I'm utterly terrified for Mudder as it's pretty much a 20k assult course with ice baths, fire runs and electricity. Knowing that I'm doing it to raise money for such a wonderful charity is really going to help me push through my mental and physical barriers.

I'll be doing a series of fitness tips (and generally talking about the stupid shit I've done, the stuff that's worked for me and a few recipes), if you have any suggestions do fire them over.So should you feel so inclined you can sponsor me by visiting my justgiving page www.justgiving.com/beewaitsruns or texting BEEWAITS88 to 70070. If you have any questions about Mudder, running or anything else in this post you can catch me as usual at @beewaits or beewaits@live.co.uk.
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