Often some motivation is needed for change and mine came in the form of my brother who inspired me to get off the couch and put one foot in front of the other at a greater speed than what I was doing at the time. As a family we were going through a terrible time with my darling Dad’s health declining rapidly. I was not in a great place anyway feeling sluggish and unhealthy (all my own fault) and with my Dad, who I adored, suddenly becoming terminally ill, I felt utter despair. It was during the last few weeks of his life that my brother, who incidentally radiates health and is very fit, suggested I do parkrun with him. I had never heard of it before he started running it in the UK and while 5km’s seemed impossible, I agreed. It was hell. My fondest memory was of my kind brother basically jogging on the spot encouraging me every step of the (very long) way and describing the scenery. I could barely move let alone respond. Somehow I finished (with much more walking than running) but I felt pleased that I had tried. It was also a slight distraction from the hell I was going through so I went back the next Saturday and slowly it got a little better but certainly nothing worth writing home about.
However, what did start to change for me was a feeling of competitiveness within that I had not felt in a very long time. I didn’t care what anyone else was doing but I did start to feel challenged personally and that competitiveness was inspiring. I found it all extremely tough but feeling competitive was a wonderful surprise and breaking 30 minutes (after a long while) was very rewarding. I enlisted my Mom’s support too (my manager, I like to call her) and forced her to sing Chariots of Fire to me at the last 500 metre mark. Only the love of a mother would actually do that for her child. The first few times I would only grimace (not at her singing, at having to still do another 500 metres) but slowly I got to a point where I could smile and even give her a thumbs up.
And then I discovered trail. Now I know most people say that it is harder than road running but for me, it is bliss. I think it’s because while I road run I am constantly ‘in my head’ talking myself out of my ability to actually complete 5k’s. With trail, I’m so caught up in the beauty of where I am running (aren’t we fortunate to have such incredible scenery in Cape Town) and making sure I don’t fall down the mountain that I don’t have time to think about how unfit I am. I also revert back to being a kid where I love the mud and grime – it is such fun. The muddier the better! I entered the Spur summer series and while some of it was tough going (Tygerberg, I still haven’t forgiven you) it was all very inspiring.
I joined Trail & Tar in Tokai and had great fun on Wednesday evenings in the Wogger group. Walk uphill run the rest. Slowly I was getting fitter but still had so much to do before I could comfortably run 10 k’s (which I still can’t). And then came the St. Luke’s Hospice 17km trail run – a challenge of epic proportions for me both physically and mentally. But, more about that in my next post!
For now, I have this to say to anyone who has started and is struggling….remember that you’re a winner simply by participating, by being there, by being present. No matter how slow you are or how little you can do at any stage, you’re still doing more than if you were lazing at home. So go on, participate and who knows, the bug might just bite. And, as a bonus, you will meet some wonderful people along the way.