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Thinking About: Running and Racing

Heart racing, lungs fighting for air, feet slapping the pavement. It doesn’t sound pleasant, right? But that’s what running is. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it’s painful, it’s satisfying, it’s rewarding, it’s relaxing. Yes, running is all of those things. You’ve just got to settle into it.

Racing 4

Okay so not everyone likes running, and that’s perfectly fine. But for those who do, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Running can be tough, but it can also be freeing and easy. Not easy in the sense of, oh my feet feel perfectly fine after running that marathon (not that I’ve ever run a marathon…), but easy in the sense of enjoyment. When you love something, it doesn’t feel so much like a chore.

I thought I’d write this post because one of my favourite things about running is the races. Obviously, I’m no professional athlete here. I’m not close to being on the British Olympics athletic team, nor am I even close to winning a local 5k race. But that doesn’t matter. Taking part in races doesn’t have to be all competitive.

Racing 2

I’ve entered a few races since I first took up running around 4 years ago. In that time I have been very on off with training (sometimes taking almost a year out) but I also come back with that same love for the sport. My first few were the Race For Life 5k runs. Now we all know that these runs are not competitive in the slightest… It’s just a fun day for people to get together and walk or run to the finish line. Some of course still hope for a PB, and plenty get them. Including me! The atmosphere at one of these events is incredible. I’ve also done a Colour Run 5k which was just a bit of fun, but really I want to talk about the 10k races.

Eat. Sleep. 10k. Repeat.

My first 10k was in 2013 and boy it was tough. The course ran very similar to the Race For Life ones that I had done as they were all in the same park/area, the 10k just obviously had a bit extra… and way more hills! My Garmin tells me it was 21 degrees and bloody hot. I started to really struggle at the 7km mark. The route was really quiet, so I was just plodding along thinking “omg I’m not gonna make it” and then this lovely woman came up next to me, asked me how I was and kept me company for the rest of the race.

As we pulled up to the finish, the crowds reappeared. I could see my mum cheering me on and I sprinted to that line – crossing over in 01:09:50. I’d done it. I felt sore, relieved and as I dropped to the floor to catch my breathe I felt happy. Such an amazing feeling.

I ran a few times after that, then took a 9 month break. 9 months! Once I’d started back up, I kept it regular right up until my second 10k – The Great Manchester Run (and my favourite medal!). Now this one got a little more serious. The Great Manchester Run is a big one. Professional athletes run it and set off way before us slow pokes so they can do it and be gone. It’s televised! I’d been watching it for a few years, always wanting to take part. This time it was only 13 degrees so a lot more manageable, but I still got way too hot. Note to self: just wear very little. You will thank yourself later.

Seriously though, the atmosphere is enough of a reason to take part in one of these races. I was really struggling towards the end – I’d gone out way faster than I was used to – but then I had people standing by the side of the road, shouting my name and cheering me on. It really had me emotional, and kept me moving. A couple of young boys had their hands out ready for high fives, and damn right I gave them high fives when I passed! When I came up to the finish line and saw my time I could have cried. I did my second 10k in 01:01:24. That’s 8 minutes knocked off my previous. My pace went from 7:00min/km to 6:05min/km. That’s something to be proud of.

I’m doing my third 10k and it’s in just over 4 weeks now. Scary! I doubt I will do better than last years 10k because I just simply haven’t put the training in. The thing is, I’m doing this because I know I enjoy race days. I love the big events and being part of so many people all doing this one thing. Running can be competitive, but it doesn’t have to be. Most people are actually just competing against themselves anyway, trying to do better than last time. Well this is my first time running this course so I have nothing to beat. The accomplishment for me is just to finish the race. Getting a PB would be amazing, but I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t get it this time.

Thoughts on Running

People have different reasons for running. I do like to see my times getting faster. I like taking part in running events and getting medals. Who doesn’t love a good medal? But I also run because I enjoy it. I enjoy the feeling of pushing through that hard beginning and ending on a runners high. In my last year of university I wrote this piece – Why Do We Run? – and honestly I’m still so proud of it.

I may not always keep it up consistently, but I know that running is always something I can come back to and enjoy.
What about you?

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