We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Running with children and animals

Thanks to 'No one is perfect but being Irish is close enough' for the photo

The joys of the long slow run! I know I'm not supposed to think about distance but I love my long runs. A long slow lope on a weekend takes my head and body to places I just can't get to any other way. So I continue my long runs though I'm supposed to be doing hills and form.

Anyway, today's sunshine meant everyone was out and about making the most of a few rain free hours.   The streets and beaches were full of manic children and dogs.  Most contacts with these strange animals are most enjoyable and I'm always intrigued by what dogs and children make of a lycra clad matron pounding round North Berwick.

To teenagers,  I am clearly invisible; they only register a very specific part of the spectrum of human life forms and the cut off is about 17, so I am well past it.  I'm also more or less invisible to collies and dogs of that ilk. Wonderful beasts, clearly more intelligent than humans, they focus on honing their innate skills and are not distracted by other species unless they need them to throw things.

Small children and most dogs are however very much aware of runners and the way they react is just fascinating. Some little humans and older dogs are startled. They don't know what to make of an over weight ninja in sunglasses and headphones bearing down on them - even worse over taking them. Some cry, some are startled, some run away. I know I don't look like a gymnast, but I must resemble something horrible - probably from a Roald Dahl book. You just know that he would have seen a middle aged running woman as an opportunity for some ghastly character.

Some children and dogs are clearly interested and look at me with a bemused but curious expression. 'Why?' I can hear them thinking. And I'm not sure I can answer.  We usually exchange a brief smile and go our separate ways.

Then there's the ones that want to join in - usually toddlers and the dog equivalent.  They don't see human or animal, they see running. Their little legs start running automatically like an innate herding response - if an adult runs, you do too,  just in case it's an attack. It takes a wee while for their heads to catch up -  they run now and think later. You can see the thought process sometimes, they get that puzzled expression wondering how on earth they started to run and how they're going to stop.

As the run goes on, I begin to ponder. Will  any of those children become runners one day? Do they have parents or family that run?  I rarely see teenagers or younger ones running unless they're playing. Bikes, roller blades, skate boards - lots of wheels, but not running.  I remember a delightful photo that John put up of himself as a young athlete and it made me smile.

I remember running once as a child - in a sports day, I was about 6. It was a deeply unpleasant experience, leaving me wheezing, snotty and in pain. I finished with the very clear message that I was not sporty, but that was fine because I liked studying and everyone knows you can't do both. So my path was set, I only dabbled in sporty type things, I was officially a book worm.

I didn't run again (except for rounders or netball) until I got to university and I didn't like it much then either, but it was good for counteracting the wild living  (though I did enjoy running on the beach). It's only in my later years that I've discovered the true joys of running and come to love it and the gifts it brings me. Not least the gift of getting to know other runners.

As I ran, I wondered what it would have been like if I'd been taught how to run as a child. What kind of runner would I be now? We got swimming lessons and cycling proficiency at school and we were taught to play games, but we never did running.   What would it have been like to have been encouraged, coached to run, to get better, to test my limits? I know now how important coaching is, what difference would it have made then?

When I was sorting Mum's house out for her move to the Abbey, I found some old medals.  They were for running with a Latin inscription, but the box was long gone so I don't know whose they were.  Somewhere in my family history, was another runner. I wonder if I'll ever find out who. I have at least 2 cousins who are runners, maybe there's a running gene in my history.

A good running week - that sports massage really got me on the straight and narrow and the yoga is keeping me there. A hard spin session;  my first 5k speed session since the injury (29.50 minutes - a long way off my 24.35 pb); a longish hilly session (1 hour, 6 miles)  and a lovely long, slow run today - 7 miles in 1.14h. I could have gone longer but I must be careful (and ASndy Murray was about to play). So my weekly mileage is creeping up - it's at 16 and a bit miles now.

The calf is doing fine, it barely twinges at all, but I got a sore hip flexor at 5 miles the other day, something I've never had problems with before.  It's linked to a lazy left hip having to do more work as I balance up. Luckily, some remedial exercises and stretches made a big difference and I was fine today. This body sensing is really working and making me take control of my running destiny. More hills next week I think, ready for August.

Whatever you're up to, I hope that you to some good quality running despite the weather. Good weather for ducks as they say - and maybe also triathletes!

Happy running!