I am a runner. The words sound strange when I say them in my head. I’ve never thought of myself as a runner. I always hated it. I was always one of the ones that would slow to a walk as soon as we were through the school gates when we had cross country. Then, for nine years I had to pass a fitness test which involved running, once a year every year (except when pregnant) in order to be fit for employment. I ran enough just so that I would pass the run in just under the maximum allowed time. I cursed every step of the way, looked for landmarks to indicate the torture was nearly over.
Just before I fell pregnant with the twins, I started running as part of a fitness program. By no means was I fast, or graceful, but I was just starting to get the hang of it when morning sickness and extreme fatigue put a stop to all things exercise. By the time I felt well enough to do any more than lie on the couch, I was sporting quite a sizeable beach ball out the front, and couldn’t manage much more than a waddle.
I started a running interval program two months ago. It was bloody hard at first. I couldn’t manage much more than walking pace. Slowly, I’ve been able to run faster, and longer. Then 3 weeks ago, I had to stop due to back and ankle pain. After seeing a physiotherapist, treating and healing my injuries, and determining that while I have a fairly decent abdominal muscle separation thanks to carrying twins who were both over 3kg at birth, my core muscles are strong enough to resume running. And resume I have. I thought it would be hard, after 2.5 weeks off. I though I would struggle, but returning has been easier than I thought, my fitness level hasn’t seemed to have decreased too much.
I still don’t find it easy. I have to convince myself to go. When all the kids are in bed, I just want couch time – an episode of Game of Thrones, and a spot of knitting. As I’m settling the twins to sleep, part of me hopes that they’ll take a long time to settle, meaning that it will be too late, too dark to go running by the time they are asleep. But there is also a little voice whispering, getting louder, urging me on. Reminding me how good I feel afterwards, how much happier and healthier I feel after running, how I feel more like me.
When I’m out there, I make deals with myself to get through. ‘At the next light post you can check your watch to see how long you’ve been running’, or ‘at the end of the next running interval, you’ll be halfway through and it’s all downhill from there’. The longer I run though, despite the huffing and puffing, the better I feel. I crank the music louder, to drown out the sounds of my own breathing. And by the end, I’m pretty impressed with my achievement, running even though I tried to find excuses not to, making it all the way to the end, achieving a new personal best. And those post-exercise endorphins? They make me feel pretty good too. After each run, I enjoy running just a little bit more, I feel more like a runner.
I am a runner, and I think I like it.