A running start


I am not a natural runner. Swimming, totally, I could swim for ages and love being in the water. But running does not come naturally to me. Running hurts. Running makes your lungs scream for oxygen, your legs shake, your face go red. For me, running is not glamourous, relaxing or fun. It’s sheer hard work.

So I’m not sure why I’ve signed up to do a 5K next month. Partly, I suppose, it’s to give me some motivation to improve my fitness. I’ve doubled my swimming stamina since Baby Ben was born, but have barely improved my running at all. Partly, it’s because I was invited. A 5K isn’t something I would ever volunteer for without some pressure. Mainly, it’s because it’s for a good cause: Millie’s Trust, a local charity established following the death of a little girl in a choking incident at her nursery. The charity aims to improve first aid knowledge, particularly of parents and carers.

My training started this week. A friend who knows much more about running than I do suggested that my target time be around 40 minutes. I think this is about manageable. So on Monday night, I ran 2.5km on the treadmill at the gym. It took me around 18 minutes. Tonight, I ran 2.75km in 20 minutes.

My training plan is basic: increase the distance I run by 0.25km each session. I looked at Couch to 5K, and realised that if I only trained to run a 25 minutes stretch I wouldn’t be close to running 5K – more like 3 and a half. This way, I know where I am, I know what I can do, and I like the fact that the treadmill counts me through the distance. I can think, “Right, that’s 60% done; over half way.”

I am fairly certain that I will not enjoy the training. I don’t even know if I’ll enjoy the experience. But so far, knowing that I’ve run further in one go than I’ve run for well over a year is very satisfying. I feel a sense of achievement, and like the idea that in 9 more sessions I will be running 5K.

It’s only a 5K, and I know lots of people could run that at a moment’s notice. But not me. So this is a real challenge for an unnatural runner.