#ChasingFitnessStory by Caroline Delin
A year ago I was probably sat down eating sugary treats to regain energy after giving birth to my second child. Exercise was out of the question and had been for a long time!
Unfortunately since then my marriage ended and I had to take up the daunting role of 'single Mum'. I went back to full time work early, accepted the help of family and friends to sort out childcare and since then there's hardly been a minute in the day where I'm not on my feet sorting something out, or trying to get my youngest back to sleep.
Most people would probably use any spare time they had left to sit down, check their social media, maybe even have a nap but I had an overwhelming urge to get out and run. Now, I've always been quite active and used to play football - back when girls football was not so cool - but I've always been poor at long distance running.
Challenge me to a sprint and I'll take you up on it and beat you. Challenge me to a 5k and I'd just laugh in your face. For the first time in my life I actually wanted to go running. I even booked myself on to an 'Ultra Challenge' for this year - where I will be attempting to run as much as I can on a very hilly, but very picturesque route. The 50k and 100k options were tempting but I sensibly went for the 25k!
My training started off slowly but after about a month I found that I could now run 5k without stopping. I felt so proud of that achievement and I was thoroughly enjoying myself! I always had doubts about the 'running helps mental health' claim but I was quickly finding that it was true. I could clear my head on these runs and most importantly take half an hour or so out of my busy day to just have some 'me' time. I am lucky enough to live near a lot of hills and fields and this made such a difference to my motivation and my mental wellbeing. I quickly discovered new local routes and took the time to appreciate the noises, views and animals I ran past each day. Even whilst writing this, as I get distracted by social media, I've come across another Mum I know who refers to her runs as a few minutes of 'peace and quiet' and the all important 'me time'. I know so many people who'd disagree that it was something to look forward to each day but it does change your outlook on so many things and you start to become quite obsessed with going out!
Unfortunately, just as I completed my first ever 10k, I started to get knee pain. I blamed the local hills and not warming up properly but then it became a problem on my shorter runs and then when I was walking. I had to stop running completely as every time I ventured out I ended up limping home. It has been quite depressing to be honest, not having that time in the day to myself, not wearing off the bars of chocolate I secretly eat at my desk and seeing my body fill out again. Luckily I managed to get a physio appointment this week and it looks like I can get back to my training again as long as I take it slowly and strengthen up a bit. I had no idea that running required this kind of additional support when I started, but now I realise how much thought and effort are necessary!
I've yet to make any new friends from my new lifestyle change but it is very apparent that running brings people together in the simplest of ways. Be it Parkrun, an athletics club or just the local park, runners will always acknowledge you with a nod of the head, a smile or even a quick chat. Everyone has a different story to tell when it comes to the reasons behind their love of running and that's what makes it so wonderful!
I do hope that the recent London Marathon will spur people on to challenge themselves and also their preconceptions about running. I don't think I'd ever sign up for a full marathon but then I never thought I'd be signing up for a hilly half either! The possibilities are endless!
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