So I’m running a race – which in itself seems a bit odd. I started running because I wanted to tell my body who it was, and as it turns out, my mind as well. I wanted to see what was possible and consistently move beyond the limits I’d previously placed on my ability to try, to dare, and to endure.
But right from the very beginning, before I even ran my first step, there was a teaser. I only ventured out of the door that first time because my husband had signed up again for a race he’d run previously, and then had to pull out a short time beforehand because of injury. And in the far, far back of my mind I thought: just maybe… What if I could run in his place? I knew I wouldn’t be ready to go from 0 to 10k in a few weeks, and after that first desperate scrabble round a bare mile – dry heaving, leaden legs, weaving crazily along the path and staggering back home – I clarified the whispering pipe dream into a real goal. Next year, I thought.
And now it’s next year.
So when the entries opened months ago I signed up, equal parts exhilaration and distant terror. I know I can do the distance. I know I can. But it’s facing down the years of inactivity, of being someone who sat on the couch and derided the whole idea of sport. And – okay let’s just admit it – what if everyone else out there is better than me?
That’s what kept me on the sofa for thirty years, and off the road running for another eight. Even when I was a gym regular, on the treadmill and swimming a mile a week, still I couldn’t face the sheer boldness of Going For a Run. Our default, it seems, is to compare ourselves. To judge and reward our fragile little hearts by how we rate alongside our neighbour (or the high vizzed lycraed local sprinting past the window). I have to throw off that mindset with as much vigour and determination as when I press into the seventh mile in the rain.
And the first hurdle in resisting comparison is the sheer breathtaking exposure of asking for sponsorship. It’s a good process. It will be great to raise some money for a significant and precious cause. But it’s good – raw and raking, but good – to accept that many people will raise far more than I in the run up to this race, and that it doesn’t invalidate my effort. Because my reasons to run, and to ask for sponsorship, are my own. This is my race, and I’m running it as if to win, but I’m not competing against anyone else. My family and friends – full of strength and support – encourage and inspire me with their love, but that can’t be the reason I’m doing this either.
So why, exactly am I doing this? Long run tomorrow – I’ll figure it out a bit more on the way…