January 8, 2015
I am a runner, but I have to admit I’m just not a very good runner.
So with 10 years of running exerience behind me I realise I am just incredibly stubborn and foolhardily run despite having very little natural ability in the sport.
But what I lack in ability, I more than make up for in determination so its ok
Now, I am not saying all of this to put myself down or to rubbish my achievements, but anyone that has even seen me run will know I don’t really have great technique and I am not really built for speed, sometimes I wonder myself how I have kept going all these years.
Well it is because I just love the feeling you get after returning a run, all fired up like you could conquer everest.
So yesterday when I happened to bump into Sally Gunnell former British athlete who won the 1992 Olympic gold medal in the 400m hurdles no less. I was absolutely delighted to find out that we share a similar view on this, imagine that?
I was at BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) HQ in Picadilly for the glitzy launch of Sport Englands exciting campaign This Girl Can, where its TV commercial which goes live on Monday was being revealed for the first time (It will premier at 7.45pm during the advert break in Coronation Street in case you were wondering, so set your TVs)
The campaign feature a runner, which is why I was there but it is also about all kinds of other sports that women and girls can get involved in too from Zumba to Boxing, Spinning to Open Water Swimming, but there just so happened to be a number of well known athletes in the room, Tanni Grey Thompson (who is a fan of this blog), Dame Kelly Holmes and or course Sally Gunnell, oh and of course the fabulous Clare Balding which was all very exciting for me.
After the film had screened, a dynamic 3 minutes video which literally had me in tears, I went to the front of the auditorium to speak to the runner who features in the campaign, a lovely mum from Bournemouth called Sam. I wanted to introduce myself to her to see if she fancied being our runner of the month for January, to which she agreed (So watch this space)
We ended up having a lovely old chin wag about what we loved and hated about running, about how difficult it is, how we are not really built for it, and our joint love of parkrun. Thats when Sally (a mum herself) joined in the conversation and we started talking about how hard it is when you haven’t been out for a while, and how it sometimes feels like its not getting any easier, yet we still absolutely love it.
So I said
I love everything about running apart from the actual running itself, I love the planning, talking to people about my training, reviewing and analysing my runs…and of course racing, but the actual time that I am out there pounding the streets with those cant do it voices in my head….
To which Sally whole heartily agreed, who would have thought it hey? Someone who has absolutely excelled in the sport having been at the top of the international game having the same kind of psychological struggles that we do.
Jennie Price the chief executive of Sport England said in her opening speech that its OK to be a little bit rubbish at sport, and she is right. Most of us have no intention of representing our countries or matching the european record for 10K, we just want to get out there and be active.
Thats not to say we can’t have goals for improvement…that sub 30 5k is still evading me, but I am not going to beat myself up about it, because as long as I am having fun and giving it a go…well then I am happy.
I will be speaking a lot more about the This Girl Can campaign over the next few months, but for now lets just put it this way, when I watched that short film yesterday I felt like I couldn’t breath, I held back tears and felt a little sick in my tummy.
Because I know when this campaign goes live and that commercial is seen by normal everyday women via their TVs, normal women that want to be healthier and happier in their lives… things are going to change. Whilst watching the film I sat there thinking “That could be me up there, this campaign is about me”, and I bet you millions of other women are going to feel exactly the same.
Sitting there in that darkened cinema screening room it somehow made me realise that what I have been doing with my blog over the last 4 years has really meant something, and even if it has only influenced this campaign in just a tiny way, then it has been worth it because this is a game changer for women’s sport – and I don’t say that lightly.
After rushing home to pick up my daughter, I did some food shopping, cooked the dinner, tidied up, put her to bed etc etc I all of a sudden realised I had missed my running clubs weekly run, I was exahusted anyway, and my current speed means I run most of it alone, so I figured I would simply have to make up that session today while Rose was at nursery.
Just before falling asleep though, I had this really funny thought. I wondered what would happen if after the TV commercial goes live next week, what if 10,000 women of all shapes and sizes, but new to the sport of running turned up at their local running clubs wanting to run what would happen then?
Could you imagine?
Would the clubs be ready? Would the women be welcomed? Would there be kit available in their sizes? Or coaches to match their ability?And most importantly would the ladies have a positive enough experience to encourage them back the following week?
Thats when I realised that my journey has only just begun…and we still have a whole heap of work to do….so I hope you are all ready, cos I will be needing your help more than ever.