In 2014 I had never run further than the end of my street, except if you count the time I ran 800m at school in under 2min 30 and nearly died. I wasn't a runner. I simply could not understand why people ran. It just did not compute.
To understand why I run, you need to understand where I came from.
I was challenged in September 2014 to run 10 miles at the end of 10 months. Challenge accepted, and I booked a half marathon for June 2015. I even took it a step further and booked a marathon for October 2015 to celebrate a year of running. I thought why not? if you going to do a challenge you might as well go for it.
Running did not come easy. I found it really hard work and then sustained an injury which meant I put everything on hold and started again end of November. Parkrun started to become the norm in the new year and 2015 looked set to be a good year of running. I managed a 10K before injury struck again. Another few months off just before a half marathon in June.
The half marathon was completed and with it the challenge. I had done little if any training, bar parkrun, but it still felt an achievement. This is when things changed. Running began to get really hard work. Every step I took I felt dizzy and sick. In fact I could not run more than 10 steps without feeling ill. I discovered I was pregnant, and whilst determined to run throughout my pregnancy I stopped after completing the marathon at 18 weeks and 4 days. Parkrun however continued but as a volunteer, which I love doing. I volunteered on the Saturday and he was born on the Wednesday, I was back a few weeks later. Parkrun is my second home, my second family.
Not breastfeeding meant I could start running again quicker than if I was breastfeeding, and in July 2016 I joined a running club. This was one of the best decisions I have made. I feel like I have found somewhere I belong, another running family. A space I can be me. A space I can just forget about everything. A place where I can just think. I can laugh, joke, swear, relax, cry, talk, just be me.
I have my identity back.
I work from home, with a toddler [and I use that term loosely as he refuses to walk] for company. Which means I never get to be alone. I always have company when I go to the bathroom, I always have company in the car, I always have company in the shower and as for eating or drinking anything warm without been used as a climbing frame you can just forget it. I don't get 'me' time. I don't have a commute to work where I can escape listening to what I want to on the radio, I get to listen to trolls on repeat. I can't remember the last time I had a shower alone or for that matter go to the bathroom alone. My days are filled with love, and cuddles and toddler games and it is amazing and so worth it but I also need time to be me. To not have to think about when I last changed a nappy, or what to cook for tea or which cupboard is currently been emptied. I need an identity and a name, not 'so and so Mum'. I need to unwind. My kids are bad sleepers, its usually gone 10 before I get 3 asleep and you can guarantee at least 1 will wake up in the night. Which means I never switch off. I never get a break. I can only apologies if this sounds selfish, but we all need a rest at some point. We all need at least a bit of time to think each day.
So why do I run?
I run for my sanity. I run so I can have an adult conversation with some one for at least 30 minutes. I run so I can be myself again and switch off from a hard and exhausting day. When I run in the mornings it makes me feel alive and ready to face the day ahead. I run because it makes me feel alive and makes me feel free. I feel lucky that I can run. I run because it clears my mind and helps me to think better, making my working day more productive. I run because it helps my depression. I run because when I get home I have three children to cuddle and it makes me a better Mum.
I run because for those few minutes I appreciate everything so much more.
It might sound selfish but I need that head space, I need that time for me, without it I feel swamped. I feel like I am surrounded by a thick, dark fog that can only be lifted when the fresh air goes past my face as my feet pound the floor beneath me.
Running is my freedom.