Running was something I never believed I could do as a child up until my mid 20’s. My first time running, I enjoyed sprinting and doing the long jump, but struggled to run any further suffering from frequent asthma attacks. Running was something other people did and I could never imagine being able to run even a mile myself.

She Believed she could so she did

I started to challenge this deeply ingrained belief in my 20’s after entering my first Race for Life with a friend. When I went to university to do a post graduate psychology degree at Lancaster University I was hardly doing any exercise. Apart from the odd game of squash it wasn’t in my routine to do any exercise. I started to feel really unfit and on a GP visit, checking my blood pressure, I was informed it was high. It was a bit of a wake up call.

I then started doing a lot more walking and going on some short runs. I hadn’t run more than about 400 metres for years. There was no couch to 5 k but I just kept going out and slowly I was able to run 5km without walking.

The Nottingham Race For Life consisted of one lap round Holme PierePoint, the water sports centre. It was completely flat, but could be windy, depending on the day.

I was really nervous but so pleased I was doing it. I got round absolutely fine. Sure I do have some photos somewhere but it was pre smart phones, about 2001. I think I completed it in about 33 minutes. I got a t-shirt and medal and was ecstatic. It was the first step to putting all those childhood beliefs that I wasn’t a runner and I wasn’t sporty to one side.

Starting to build up the belief I can run

Following this event, I continued to run and build up my distance. A few years later, around 2004, I entered my first half marathon in Nottingham where I was living at the time. The training was challenging and I had absolutely no idea about strength and conditioning and injury prevention. However, despite a few injuries, I got to the start line. The furthest I had run was 8 miles. I was really nervous, remembering running past a friends house in the centre of Nottingham thinking shall I just quit as I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

My First Half Marathon

It was a really warm day and I had no idea about pacing and set off far too fast. All the friends who were doing it were faster than me and I was initially trying to not let them get too far ahead. Not the best plan! I started to change my expectations and just aim to get round when I saw an ambulance and a collapsed runner. It was so warm, I needed to be sensible.

After about 8.5 miles and a rather steep hill, I paid the price for the fast start. I had never experienced anything like it before, I completely ran out of energy. I ‘hit the wall’ or bonked. This is where you run out of glycogen stores and my legs tuned to jelly. I just had to walk. I wasn’t going to quit, but I still had a long way to go.

Any time ambitions slipped away. The challenge was to complete this race. I opted for a run-walk strategy and the miles started to come down. I was going to do this. I could then see everyone at the finish line. It was such an amazing feeling to complete my first half marathon. I still have the Nottingham Lace in a frame that I received at the end. I think my finish time was around 2:24 hours.

I started a new job the day after completing my first half marathon and I could barely walk! However, mentally I felt amazing. this was a massive achievement for me.

Take Away Tips

I always saw myself as not the sporty type at school. However, I know understand that the past should not define us in the present or the future. We can be whoever we want to be. I very much doubt those girls who I saw as ‘sporty’ would be doing triathlons, open water swimming or running marathons now.

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you believe in yourself and put the effort in, you can achieve anything. The most important thing is to make a start. Do your research and build up slowly, adding in strength and conditioning to prevent injury.

If you need help to achieve your running goals, I would highly recommend contacting Cat, from Changing Paces run coaching. I have used Cat myself when training for various events and she has helped me so much with my run technique and devising training plans for me.

If you want some help with your confidence and overcoming limiting beliefs around your goals, please get in touch for a chat. I am currently offering a mini mindset package of 40 minutes for £40 to really kick start your fitness motivation.

Go out there and make life happen. If you want to do something, go for it. If fear is stopping you achieving what you would love to do, then this is all the reason to do it.

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