I have always hated running. Actually, no, I love Sprinting and anything under 400m. I hate anything over 400m and although I have taken part in 5k, 10k and even a half marathon, I have hated every single second of it.
It might sound strange then that I willingly signed up for RED January back in December. RED being RUN EVERY DAY.
There was some logic in my decision though. Like a lot of people who fall off the wagon in December, I knew I needed something to commit to that would help me get back into a good exercise routine in the New Year. Once I’ve agreed to do something, I’m actually really good at sticking to it and so formally signing up to a challenge always works for me.
All the gear, no idea
As I mentioned above, there is the slight issue that I absolutely HATE running. I totally get that running is great exercise, good to clear your head, cheap, easy to get into blah blah blah. I desperately want to like it and to add to my Instagram bio “Runner”. I want to be that person who just casually runs 6 miles on a Sunday, taking in all the beautiful countryside without breaking a sweat. I have a wardrobe full of running clothing and even got some amazing Asics running trainers for Christmas…..surely, I’m 50% of the way there?
At this point you may be thinking – Claire, your last blog was about finding your fitness – something you love to do, otherwise what is the point?
Yes, and you are right BUT I really want running to be my thing. A few years ago, I managed to make myself like lettuce and salmon, so I was confident training myself to like running would be a breeze.
To give myself that extra little bit of motivation, I set up a Facebook group and invited lots of friends who were also taking part in RED January to join it. This would then give me accountability and motivate me to get the runs in – I was part of a team and wouldn’t let them down.
Slow and steady wins the race
The first week was great, I started off slow and steady and actually enjoyed some of my first few runs. I ran early in the morning, late in the evening and in the middle of the day, trying to see if I preferred running at one particular time better than the others…..no, they were all equally as boring. Although, running in the dark was definitely something I would not want to do on a regular basis! I think I got some of my fastest times in the dark – not because I was getting fitter, I was just shitting myself the whole way round and couldn’t wait to get home.
Music or Podcasts?
I asked some of the group how they kept themselves motivated on runs and one suggested listening to a podcast while running. I liked this idea as even music bores me when I run, so I downloaded some Tony Robbins and off I went. This did work for a while. For around 30 minutes, I was deep in thought listening to the podcast and didn’t once think about how much I hated running. I even ran further than I had set out to in some cases – a breakthrough.
Not quite. There are only so many podcasts you can listen to before your mind starts wandering and back to the same old thoughts “I hate running, this is boring”. No matter what I tried, nothing made the running enjoyable.
I did finally have a breakthrough: running with my children. Now, this was fun. I was surprised how involved my girls wanted to be in RED January and their eagerness to put on their sports stuff and join me for a run, even on frosty, cold days. If I’d run during the day while they were at school we would all have to go out again in the evening as they felt they had missed out. (Check me out – 2 runs in one day.)
Do something EVERY day
Running with my girls and seeing them out in the fresh air, getting out of breath, their cheeks glowing and having fun without an iPad or television in sight was the best feeling ever and made me forget about how boring running was.
My daughters are only 5 and 7 so we weren’t clocking up any hardcore miles. We were doing around 2 miles per run but getting out every day. The good thing about RED January is that it isn’t about running a set number of miles every day. It’s actually just about getting out and doing something every day.
For the first time ever, I was enjoying running. We played around with speed, sprinting between lampposts and then walking for the count of 30. We pretended to be animals in the jungle doing funny running techniques and making animal noises. The girls found little ways of making running more fun not only for them, but for me too. I know these methods won’t necessarily translate when I go running with my friends – I’m not sure they will want to pretend to be lions next time we go for a run, but then I’m not sure I want to run any other way than that now.
I am a runner
It’s nearly the end of January and I have pretty much Run Every Day, and on those days I’ve not been able to get out, I’ve done some form of exercise. I feel so much better for it, both physically and mentally.
My goal in the beginning was to give myself a month to fall in love with running. I honestly believed that by Feb I would be a “runner” and would be signing myself up to the Manchester 10k. The problem is, back in December, my definition of a runner was someone who runs 5+ miles regularly, wears those cool running headbands and regularly takes part in races. However, I was wrong. A runner is simply someone who runs. I run, albeit not very far, I still run and therefore, I am a runner.
RED January got me outdoors every day – even on days I didn’t feel like it, I pushed myself and then felt a million times better when I got home. I spent more quality time with my children – outdoors in the fresh air doing something fun. My children got to see how much fun exercise can be and showed me how it doesn’t need to be regimented and boring to still achieve the same results.
It’s safe to say I won’t be signing up to the Manchester 10k or joining a running club in the near future (or ever in fact). However, the one unexpected thing that has come as a result of RED January is that my kids have signed up for Junior Park Run. For the past month, every Sunday morning they have sprung out of bed, pulled on their running kit and dragged me and my husband out of bed to take them. We both run the 2k route with the girls and for the 15 minutes or so it takes, I love running.
Run anyway you want
I love seeing my daughters pushing themselves to complete the race. I love seeing their competitive edge coming through. I love their resilience and how they support and motivate each other. I love that they are seeing exercise as fun and not as a way to “drop a few pounds”.
So actually, thanks to RED January – I do love running, just not in the conventional sense and more importantly, so do my kids.