Lessons I've Learnt from Running

Oh no, not another braggy post by a runner nonchalantly boasting about how their life has been changed by fitness. Bear with me... I've earned the right to write this post because I'm not really a runner. Or at least I never used to be.

Chances are that if you've known me a while, you'll know that I'm not sporty. It's no secret of mine, nor is it even a claim. In fact, many times I've voluntarily embraced the label of not being athletic. In High School my close friends were the sporty ones, joining the school teams or skiing on breaks, but I found myself reluctant in PE, embarrassed to compete for the ball or shuttlecock or finish line. One of the biggest jokes of my teenage years was that I was awarded a 'sports tie' (a multicoloured tie to indicate sporting excellence), but that was just because I was on the hockey team for years, and that was just for social reasons and absolutely not because of skill.


It turns out though, saying something about yourself again and again over the years makes it stick. For me, I think rejecting any identity of being sporty gradually became this self-fulfilling prophesy. I started to understand that my body mysteriously hadn't been built to be active and that I would find it impossibly hard to change that. All of this was confronted though about six months ago when I downloaded a running app called 'Couch To 5K' by the UK's NHS. Like the not-so-charming title professes, this app is aimed to take someone from no running ability to be able to run for 5K. Over three months I ran three times a week, obediently listening to this app as it told me when to run and when to walk and when to rest. And now, half a year later, I still run three times a week (let's be honest, I occasionally miss one) and it has been the most liberating habit. Running for me hasn't been about getting fit or keeping trim, it's been about challenging the limitations and low expectations I've nursed for the past ten years.

I think I'm quite a comforting voice in the running world because I spent years and years never running. Once, I was wearing trainers (sneakers) around the house and my sister saw my feet and said to me, "I didn't know you owned those!". Here's some of the lessons I've learnt from running...

  1. Being naturally athletic isn't vital to being a runner. If you've got a good dose of determination and discipline, those can completely replace a sporty predisposition.
  2. Do something you always thought you could never do. The mental liberation is priceless.
  3. Introverts, running is a socially acceptable place to ignore people and a great arena to recharge.
  4. You don't need fancy running gear to start running. I'm yet to invest in proper clothing (I do have trainers though) and just make do with the leggings and oversized tees I already have.
  5. "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". Run rain, snow or shine.
  6. If you wear glasses like me, wear a cap on rainy days.
  7. If you run early enough in the morning, you can look like an absolute monster and barely anyone will see you.
  8. A regular running routine gives room to regularly listen to audiobooks or lectures. Sometimes I opt for Rudimental or Justin Bieber though.
  9. Download the free Couch to 5K and give it a try!
Bethan Uitterdijk