Running is some kind of magical therapy to me – it’s hard, painful and I’m really not any good at it, but there’s something about being inside your own head, focused on the sound of your breath and each of your footsteps that make it so therapeutic. My mind wanders when I run and I find myself about to forget about the world outside myself and switch off for a bit. Like I said, I’m no good at running, but I like to do it, purely for the little bit of alone time I have for myself in my head. Having said that, I’d love to be good at running…I’d love to feel strong, powerful with every step, athletic, with the drive and motivation to run regularly. I truly admire runners of all distances – it’s a hard sport to be involved in, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have the physical fitness to run as gracefully as I dream to.
I’m trying to do things out of my comfort zone more often, be a little more independent and be a stronger person. A few years ago, I signed up for the Race for Life, which actually marked the start of a traumatic week for myself and my family. Mentally, the race was hell and the few days that followed were even worse. I won’t go into the details, but personally, the race was part of a period of my life I’m trying not to think about – I’ll never psychologically heal from what followed, and as I associate the Race of Life with that horrible week of my life, I have feared ever doing it again. Part of me resented the race for the memories I had associated it with. But, it also stands for something important and something that I should be proud to be involved with – I’ve always wanted to do it again, but I’ve never been brave enough to put old memories aside and run for a more positive reason.
So, this year, I signed up. On my own (see, I am being braver!). Partly I signed up alone because I wanted to be independent and do things without needing other people to do it with me, and partly because I was terrified of the feelings it would bring to the surface and how I’d react. And I am so glad I did. It was one of the hottest days of the year so far, the atmosphere was so much fun and I was able to replace old memories of that event with new ones. I’ll never forget that week when I raced last time, but now I won’t only associate the Race for Life with that bad period in my life…I won’t resent it for the things that happened at the same time. And I raised a nice amount of money for Cancer Research, which is what it’s all about.
My psychologically scarred self will never heal, but I’m improving. Good memories are more frequent, and the bad ones are like bad dreams, where I’m not sure if they even happened. And I’m proud of myself. It was no record breaking time, or a personal best – but in the hot sun and with no training, I did well. It’s a step forward. I’ll keep signing up and before long, I’ll no longer associate the entire event with that week. It’ll be an event to honour and remember, rather than one to forget.
I’ve already signed up for next year, and hopefully I’ll enter more races too. My fitness is awful right now and I barely made it round the course jogging. I’ll be very happy to get my 34 minute 5k time down. With the Race for Life being a fun run and family orientated, it’s a great entry to running and perfect for me as a beginner in races. I’ve already checked out the local races and hopefully I’ll get a few non-Race for Life runs down before next year.
I’d definitely recommend taking part in the Race for Life – the atmosphere is great, very upbeat and positive and there’s nothing better than running alongside ladies in pink tutus with thousands of people cheering you along the way. You don’t have to run it – walking is very popular…it’s just a great way to do something active for a good cause.
Sign up here to take part next time: http://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/index.html