My relationship with exercise has always been fraught. I was not a sporty kid - I was awkward, un-coordinated and pretty much incapable of catching or throwing a ball. As a result, I avoided any sort of sport or exercise like the plague, and developed a deeply mistrustful relationship with the whole deal. Thankfully, due to some stroke of genetic luck, I have also always been pretty healthy and relatively slim, so it didn't seem like too much of a big deal. It wasn't until my early twenties that I decided to try and kick my butt into gear, and at least try to go to the gym on a semi-regular basis - despite looking like a healthy person, there was no doubt that it was *not* healthy to be panting and wheezing at the top of a hill or particularly steep set of stairs. A lot of people go to the gym to lose weight or tone up; those things feel kind of secondary to me - I am a lot more motivated by the thought of an early grave caused by unfitness. Which is morbid, but whatever works, right?
Exercising is such a strange thing, and yet it's so important. It feels horrible. It hurts, during and afterwards. I am never motivated to do it. I never, ever feel like going for a run. And part of that is because it is an uncomfortable thing to put your body through, but also I think it's partly because I remember all those awkward PE lessons - me and running are just not friends. People genuinely laughed when I told them that I was running the Abbey Dash - a 10k race around Leeds. It seems ridiculous, me actively opting to do exercise, but I don't want that to be the case anymore. I am not a fast runner, or a good runner or a happy runner, but I still ran on Sunday and I am pretty pleased with how it went. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:05:38 - at least 10 minutes faster than my most optimistic of guesses for what I'd manage on the day.
All this to say, that I'm pretty proud. This isn't a triumph-over-adversity story. It's just a getting-shit-done story. Choosing to do something, setting a goal, and then just doing it. I didn't train as much as I should (see above: I never *want* to go for a run) and I am aching all over as a result, but I made it round and I ran all the way (no walking!). Having that negative relationship with exercise makes it feel impossible at the beginning; those first few runs are slow and you feel like they'll never get better. All those success stories of people going from couch potatoes to marathon runners feel like utter rubbish. But slowly, things start to change and you can run a little further or a little faster each time. It's not some revelation, it's just a slow steady chug towards the end goal, with a lot of blisters along the way. Which is probably a metaphor for life, but is also the reason I'll be running another 10k in March - and this time, I want to go faster.