How many times do you have a false start with exercise? Something that we know is so good for us both mentally and physically but still feels like the first thing that gets dropped when we feel overwhelmed, stressed, like we just don’t have the time. Everything else including life gets in the way and we find every excuse not to bother.
Way back in 2012 I ran my first half marathon with some of my workmates. In my late teens and most of my 20s I was so unhappy with my size, shape and how I looked that I barely wanted to walk to the end of my street, let alone run anywhere. If someone had told me then that one day I’d run a half marathon I would have probably fallen over laughing so hard.
Since 2012, there’s been another half marathon and a couple of 10ks too but the truth is its been two years since I last signed up for a race to challenge me to keep running and training. I’m not good with running “just because” even though I know about all the benefits. I know how amazing it feels when you come in from a run, especially as I tend to do mine first thing in the morning and you feel incredible for the rest of the day.
My fitness has definitely taken a battering lately. I used to do weekly Pilates, go to the gym at work maybe 2-3 times a week and occasionally run as well. I felt on top of the world and in such great shape. And then life at work got very stressful last year and I gave up my gym membership. This year started brilliantly with a cheap as chips gym round the corner from where we live opening up and I was starting my first year of self-employment at the gym each morning to kick start my life.
But then disaster struck when I got very ill with my then-undiagnosed Ulcerative Colitis and all my confidence completely disappeared. I feel out of shape again and with only 10 days to go until we go on holiday, I’m not my normal confident happy self.
However, the tide has to turn doesn’t it? With so much convalescing time earlier this year, I was looking for inspiration online. For people who were living with chronic illness yet still defying it, showing that life can go on and be absolutely amazing. And oh my goodness, did I find exactly what I was looking for. In particular @bowelbabe on Instagram, otherwise known as Deborah James who was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer at the age of 35 despite being fit and healthy. She is incredible, RUNNING to her treatment sessions, travelling, raising awareness of bowel cancer all the time. She doesn’t stop and it made me realise that I can’t spend any longer making excuses.
So, inspired by her and many others, I’ve signed up to run a 5k race this coming Sunday in Blackheath, to raise money for Cancer Research. Because I’m one of the lucky ones despite having all the symptoms of bowel cancer as the doctor advised, who didn’t get that diagnosis. Because I’m one of the lucky ones who despite having a chronic lifelong illness can still function better than many people can with similar diagnoses. Blackheath is perfect – not too far to travel, not too far to run. Of course chances are I’ll have to walk large parts of it because I’m so woefully unprepared but I was reassured to have tested the waters at the weekend with a little 3k run which felt pretty comfortable. Hopefully the emotion and momentum on the day will keep me going.
I don’t want to stop there though. I have in theory all the time in the world at the moment whilst I’m taking this time out from the corporate world. There are absolutely no excuses for me not to keep running or get back to my regular gym sessions, especially when it’s been proven to really aid many health conditions such as the one I have.
I hope I’ll be writing a post in a month, or maybe 6 months, or a year to say that I’m still running. To say that I’ve gone back to regular exercise and how great I feel. There’s no more time for false starts, I’m going to be 40 in January. Time to start living my best 20 year old life.