In my more slobbish days, I would sometimes wonder if there was a runner in me desperate to get out. In some dark and angry moments I could see the appeal of that repetitive pounding of the pavements as a way of relieving stress.
But I was a smoker and allergic to exercise. The thought of getting out there and getting all sweaty did not appeal. Just the thought had me reaching for another cigarette. Then the world went mad and overnight smoking became socially unacceptable and keeping fit was in. The world and his wife, his sister and his great-aunt donned lycra and took to the streets, jogging themselves into a life of dodgy knees and, by the look of some of them, an early heart attack.
After a (very) brief foray into pink and black lycra in my early twenties, my thirties found that little smidge of rebel in me absolutely point-blank refusing to join the masses. Growing old disgracefully was my new black. Crash diets, coffee, cigarettes, and a little weed now and again, were the temples at which I worshipped.
Then I got cancer.
If that doesn’t make you sit up and re-evaluate your life, nothing will.
So gradually I started considering what I ate, what I was smoking and what I was doing to my body in general. And I do mean consider. I did start to change my diet but it took another 7 years before I finally gave up smoking (just over a year ago). Then late last year, much to my surprise, and to the astonishment of my friends, I bought a pair of running shoes. They sat in the cupboard for months, but it was a start. Then I downloaded the NHS Couch to 5K podcast that promised....well, it promised to get you from Couch to 5K in 9 weeks. That sat on my PC for another few months.
Never let it be said I am impulsive.
Then 4 weeks ago, out of the blue, I was impulsive. Uploaded the podcast to my phone, stuck the earphones in and took myself out for the first training session in the programme. Have you ever tried running for 60 seconds when you‘ve never run for anything before!? I thought I was going to keel over there and then.
But I felt a determination that, just for once in my life...I. Would. Do. This.
And that determination continues. I’m now up to running for five minutes at a time and, over the 30 minute programme, I am running for longer than I am walking. And during the first five-minute run last Friday, I found myself grinning and enjoying myself.
Now THAT is scary!