I’m a sprinter. I don’t do long distance running. When I was a girl, I would win every sports day in my red tshirt for Kennet, our school house. Long distance running, I would fake twisting my ankle so I could get out of it and sit and watch (one time I produced real tears and everything…). I attempted running with Ben on a few occasions but after about 7 minutes it usually ended up with me getting cross with him for being patronising or going to fast or going to slow or running too close or too far away (I’m a demanding exercise partner) and then walking home, leaving Ben to carry on alone.
However in February a few years ago this began to change. I was sitting with 2 friends in Carluccios having lunch and we began to discuss running. Lots of people we knew were running long distance, going jogging and generally sounding like they were models in Nike adverts exercising through the fields and beaches of Bracknell at sunrise before facing the world each morning. We had a “yeah we should do that” type conversation and then tucked into the Italian balsamic goodness of a Carluccios lunch.
So it took me 3 months to get started (I figured I’d wait for the warmer weather) and then I began a couch to 5k plan.
If you want to get into running I would HUGELY recommend doing a couch to 5k plan. I began it in secret when Ben had gone away for the week as I didn’t want the pressure of people knowing (bearing in mind I’m married to Mr Half Marathon, and am daughter of “I started doing 26.2 mile Marathons in my mid 50’s” Dad… my 5k plan looked meagre in comparison). But this was my kind of running plan. The first session is walk for 90 seconds then jog for 1 minute six times. It’s basically lots of sprints and then walking as soon as you get tired. I LOVED it and stuck at it and was just amazed at how my health and fitness improved so quickly. Over 8 weeks, Miss “I fake twisting my ankle to get out of running at school” went from only being able to run for 1 minutes to running for 30 minutes and doing a 5k. There’s even evidence (I am irrationally proud of this photo as through the majority of this particular run, I felt like I was about to throw up, but here I have the casual “yeah, I do this all the time” nonchalant kind of look):
I initially started running for the health benefits and as an excuse to buy some flashy new florescent trainers. But one of the big benefits for me was in the self-discipline it taught me. Paul says to the Corinthians “But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Other than the obvious health benefits , running has improved my self-discipline; It’s taught me to get up early, to go running in horrific hours of the morning, to run in torrential rain when dogs look out the windows of houses and wonder what I’m doing, to keep going when it’s hard, to ignore what others think of you when you run past people you know and get “encouragement” from the group of 14 year old boys loitering at the park, to stick to a plan and to work towards a goal.
Bill Hybels talks about discipline as “delayed gratification”. He says “the key to practising discipline can be described in three words –advance decision making. You are making an advance decision to delay gratification as long as necessary to achieve the results you most desire.” As much as lying in bed would be gratifying, getting up and exercising to feel more awake and achieve better health is the greater reward in the long run. Although bad mouthing that person may feel good at the time, a greater reward is holding my tongue and receiving the blessing God promises the blameless life. The satisfaction in the long run in being self-disciplined will always outweigh the short-term pleasure of instant gratification.
This year, I’m going to carry on to a 10k plan and see what happens now. The app I’ve been using is c25k Run for Pink which is one produced by Breast Cancer, you can download it here. I’m pleased to say that both my friends also have now run 5k and if we can do it, really anyone can!