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Another great guest blog post from one of our Clubhouse ladies Amanda Gill.  Amanda is talking about her top five reasons to run and what gets her out of the door.   Thanks Amanda

Last year I turned forty. Like many forty year old women I have a life filled with rushing around and stressing: rushing to and from my job (in education), stressing about whether the kids are behaving, rushing around after the kids and my hubby, stressing about cancelling my work plans because of snow. You get the picture!

I started running two years ago to complete a challenge in memory of my brother in law who was an amazing runner and to raise some cash for the cancer trust who looked after him through his illness (we lost him at just 35 years old). The challenge was to be a local race – The Thames 10k 2016 at Beale Park, one of my favourite places to visit with the kids.

But what I’d really like to think about in this blog is WHY I KEEP RUNNING – does it help me lose weight? Nope. Am I competitive? Nope. Am I a bit mad? Probably. But the real reason I keep running is because in this crazy life it makes me feel better: keeps me calm, keeps me positive, keeps me happy. How does it do this for me?

  1. A long run is like a mini holiday As a slow runner a long run really is what it says on the tin – long! I now train up to about ten miles which takes me over two hours to run. When I’m spending time running I’m not working, chasing the kids, cooking or washing, or anything else. It’s just me, my lungs and my feet. My favourite local place to run is Greenham Common which has a pleasing four mile loop and on a good day I will jog round twice. I remember one run on a really windy day and it really felt as if I was master of the elements completing the loop that morning. I like scenic runs and will catch myself often now, as I drive through somewhere new perhaps, thinking “this would be a nice place to run”.
  2. Running gives me something to aim for I completed my first half marathon in Reading last year and one of the feelings I experienced was utter shock – how on earth could I have completed something that before that day had seemed impossible? I am now a half marathon runner and no-one can take that away from me: I have the medal to prove it! I am not race-mad but I do like to book something every few months to keep me motivated. My hubby likes to pin up a complex training plan, to loom over us, which I choose to completely ignore. Instead I just focus on smaller goals that give me a little boost to achieve. For example, that scary hill route which has me running up hill for 4k. If it feels easier then I feel strong and I love me legs that day: the training is working!
  3. I love feeling fit I so enjoy that warm glow and the feeling of power you get from running strong. I like hills (yes I know that is crazy). That feeling spills into the rest of my life and I don’t ever want it to leave. For the first time in my life ever I wake up before my alarm goes off at 6, which is a massive achievement for me (I tell everyone but they are not always impressed). Energy is an awesome thing: especially when you have two energy filled little boys to entertain. We go out all day long and do beach, bikes, ice cream, coastal walks, play parks … and at the end of the day I’m still going strong. Actually, I am often the one urging the kids to keep going these days which feels great as this is the example I want to be setting for them.
  4. I get the ‘runners’ high’ When I first started running this felt like a myth. When I started training for the 10k I could only really manage about 2 miles, with walking breaks. I would get home the colour of a red traffic light, exhausted, puffing and, basically, finished for the day. ‘Runners’ high?? HA!’. However, once I could run 5k strange things started to happen. I found that after the first couple of miles my legs would feel warm and comfortable, my head would feel calm … and I would start smiling! For me my ‘happy zone’ is 5-10k and a run of this length will keep me feeling happy and positive for the rest of the day. Everything just feels a bit easier. For someone like me who is a habitual worrier and feels nervous about EVERYTHING this has been a true gift.
  5. I also have runners ‘calm’ Running for me can be ‘mindful’. I would definitely recommend some ‘no frills’ runs. For me this means 5k with no phone, watch, water, music – just me. For me this is when the real ‘freedom’ feeling of running can be had. During these runs I listen to my body. I like to listen to my breathing or count my steps. I also try to put a number to how much effort I am working at (like 50%, 60%) and play around with this push. It’s a different way of running that just allows me to focus on the rhythm of my body and can be strangely calming, and liberating.

So there we have it – five reasons why running has been so positive for my wellbeing. Maybe not the reasons we think of when someone takes up running but I have learned, through being part of the TFTR community, that for many of us running has this uplifting result.

 

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