Hi, my name is Josie and I would describe myself simply as a pessimistic runner.
I love the idea of running over hills and down roads with beautiful scenery and I do actually enjoy running; I am just not very good at it. Like a lot of people, it just doesn’t come quite as naturally as it should.
I was born with a genetic disposition to wide(ning) hips, big (not muscular) thighs and buttocks and lungs the size of acorns; definitely not your sporty type. To top it off my feet under pronounce, I have a tendency to be on the depressive side and even though I’m in my twenties (just about) I have an underactive thyroid. Thanks mum.
I have always disliked watching sports, maybe athletics would hold my interested for a short while but over the last few years I have had this ever-growing want to do some kind of sport or exercise; like rock climbing, sky diving or cycling. I am just not very fit, or very motivated and all too easily I will give up or not even start.
About four years ago whilst I was at University I found the time to start cycling, something I really enjoyed. Of course I would ‘go all out’ and knacker myself out very quickly; I loved speeding along the roads and would get frustrated at having to stop for traffic. Unfortunately, I happened to live in quite a hilly area and so instead of the slim shapely legs I wanted, I ended up with even bigger thighs with two great muscles above the knees! I also got fed up of turning up everywhere panting, hot and sweaty, so after I left the luxury of having spare time at University and went back into the real world of working full time where I could afford to pay for transportation and I gradually put the bike to rest.
During this biking time my fitness improved as my lungs expanded and so I gained the ability to start running around Richmond Park. This was no mean feat, as I used to suffer with the most excruciating cases of over-self awareness. This being one reason I have never stuck it out with running before. I would be so absolutely paranoid that people were looking at me, judging me, mocking me that I just couldn’t face doing something I wasn’t very good at in public. I would be sure that I looked ridiculous; my running form was poor, my face was red, my bum looked huge and wobbly etc. etc. It would consume me entirely and I would invariably never go back. Now I am a little older and maybe wiser (although I think I’ve just become lazier at caring about things), I do not think these negative thoughts quite so much, although truthfully, I still haven’t mustered the courage to start running outside again, for fear of failure or embarrassment in public.
Anyway, this experience at Richmond Park was truly one of my best ever. I started off huffing and puffing, panting and getting stitches, struggling to get even passed the first mile stage. But I kept at it. Walking bits here and there (especially the sudden steep hills), and then all of a sudden, one random, unplanned day, I just kept going! I wasn’t running particularly fast, but I was running! ‘Just a bit further’ I would be thinking. ‘There’s no target, just go for as long as you can’. It was a miracle, but I managed to make it the whole way round without stopping! That’s about 7 miles! Including various huge hills.
I was so astonished that I told everyone at work. I even managed to get a running partner out of it. It was so surreal that I was doing this! My partner was a better runner and helped me take about 45 minutes off my time by the end of it. Don’t get me wrong, I was never an amazing runner; I still had an astonishing habit of being able to ‘psych’ myself out of my own ability and my legs muscles were not strong enough so I suffered with constant knee problems. I was really too lazy to do a lot of the exercises you are meant to in order to strengthen the thigh muscles. I just wanted to run.
After a few months my University final exams started and after that I went back to work fulltime and I gradually ran less and less. Stress got the better of me and after a short while my motivation was lost. Mostly though, I lost belief in myself so such a degree that I no longer felt like I had ever achieved, what seemed to me, such an amazing thing.
Well that was three year ago and I am 30 next year. Something has to change!