‘I can’t run’

Maybe best to start off from the beginning with how I got to be here, calling myself a running mum. Foremost in my life come my children…everything else takes second place; to me, that’s what the job of a parent is. I decided to start this running thing at the end of May last year and I could blame my lack of exercise to that point on them (blame isn’t necessarily correct; ‘using them as an excuse’ might be better). However, the fact remains that, as a working single mum, finding the time (and energy) to commit to regular exercise was difficult.

Then they reached an age when I felt that they needn’t be an excuse any longer.

My background: I dabbled in kettlebells about 8-9 years ago, but ended up injuring my shoulder which resulted in keyhole surgery to clean up frayed cartilage. I loved kettlebells before the injury though because I could (virtually) see my ‘baby fat’ falling off me, it was convenient because I didn’t need to leave the house in order to do it and, apart from the initial cost of the bell, it was free. When I was at school I enjoyed sport, but was never one of the best and if I did any running it was short distances: sprints. I did go to a local running club session with my younger sister once (who was pretty good at it; still is) and I ended up pushing myself so much that by the time we returned to my Mum I could hardly breathe and felt horrendous for many hours afterwards.

From that point on my mantra was: ‘I can’t run’.

Last year, I was out one evening on a walk around the river with my 3. My girls had run on ahead and I was with my eldest (son) and I started to (very, very) gently jog along the path after them. When I caught up with them by the park, I realised that I wasn’t out of breath and a tiny, tiny little thought popped into my head that maybe this was a thing. A sign. I had already seen posts on Instagram about people doing the Couch to 5K programme and I started discussing with my 3 whether I should give it a go. Two of them reported that they should come out with me when I first go ‘in case anything happens’. I think they thought I might fall over or faint or maybe even something worse.

I had my own worries: I didn’t want people to see me; I go bright red when I exercise and that would be embarrassing; I didn’t want to try to find that I couldn’t do it and end up a failure; I didn’t want their dad to know because I didn’t want his added mocking thoughts or comments. So I made a plan: to download a Couch to 5k app, to not tell anyone until I was sure I could do it and to go out early morning or in the evening to minimise the risk of being seen. But my thought had pattern had already changed to: ‘Maybe I can run’.

My first run was on May 26th. My exercise lasted for 25 minutes with 6 individual minutes running. Today, my running aim is a half marathon later in the year and tomorrow I aim to run for 8.5 miles. And it makes me feel amazing. I’m not fast, but I’m getting quicker. I tell myself that the speed doesn’t matter, but actually, in my head, it does because it makes me feel like I’m getting better when I can run that little bit quicker. The only person I’m competing with is myself and I like that. And I now know that ‘I can run’.

And the other really fantastic thing is that my 3 are so proud of me.



It’s something I’m struggling with at the moment. I want to get that feeling back of loving the run I am on and looking forward to the next one. But I have so much going on at the moment that I’m struggling to get out as much as I would like and I don’t like the feeling of guilt when I don’t manage it.

This past week has been largely about Ikea’s flat-pack and getting two new rooms in my recently finished loft conversion sorted so that two of my 3 can move in there. Juggling the carpet delivery with the building inspector and finding a carpet fitter, who would fit a carpet he hadn’t supplied, has also added to my ‘to do’ list. Once numbers 1 and 2 were successfully moved in (bar 1 wardrobe due to damage before arrival), number 3’s room needed to be sorted (which was previously shared with number 2) in time for her party and sleepover this evening.

On top of work. And on top of studying for a course. And the rest of life.

On a positive (run) note, I did manage a 6am run on Wednesday and was so glad I did. It was cold, but as I ran I heard the birds singing away to each other, the mist softly hugging the river and the swans flying above. The sky was blue with white crosses from the trails left by the planes.  And I was calm.


The benefit of being stubborn

Once I have decided that I want to do something, that’s it. I won’t give up without a fight. And quite possibly, that is the only reason why I am still running 10.5 months on. Because it has not been easy and there have been many times when I have questioned what I am doing…..

Like before I had managed to get my breathing under control and I thought I was going to be sick because my chest hurt so much.

Like setting my alarm for 5.30am and getting up and going out for my early morning run, twice a week, before my 3 would wake up….even when it was cold and windy….even when it was -5 degrees.

Like continuing to run when my Achilles was screaming with pain because I wanted to complete my first 20 minutes without stopping (in hindsight, that was a completely stupid time to be stubborn).

Like struggling to do 2 miles one day when I have comfortably covered double that the week before.

Like feeling that I have to stop because everything aches and I have no energy, but I’d rather jog along at a snail’s pace than give in and walk home. Because someone might see me walking and then that would be a failure (in my eyes).

Like when my parents suggested that setting my sights too high was not a good idea. Nothing like telling me I can’t do something to make me even more determined!

But every time I have kept going (apart from the Achilles incident, but that’s another story). And all of these times have made me realise that I am strong enough to do this. And that some things just need to be worked at a little (okay, sometimes A LOT). I am setting a massive example to my 3, who had never before witnessed me doing any form of exercise (other than cycling a flat mile to work every day).

The only person I started running for was me. And the only person keeping me going is me.

So, in a minute I’m going to go and put on my running gear (another incentive to keep going: Me to myself: “you’ve spent your money on running shoes, clothes and a TomTom watch, you can’t give up now!”) and head off for my long run (currently at 8.5miles-ish). And when I get back, the big Easter egg on the side is all mine!!!

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.

And this girl can. Because she’s stubborn.