One thing I never, ever thought I would become, is somebody who likes, or you could even say loves, running. Yep, I admit it. I love running. I love to spend my Sunday mornings pounding the pavements, with a good playlist and pretty views to keep me occupied. For me, running is the perfect way to keep my mind and body in check. It keeps me from feeling too anxious, gives me time to reflect, and after a tough day in work, it’s the perfect medicine.
But, of course, it hasn’t always been this way. I started running regularly at the start of last year. I’d done bits of running here and there before, particularly in circuits classes, but never anything long distance. Years before that, when I’d first started going to the gym, I could barely run one minute without huffing and puffing and giving up, and HATING it. I remember telling my mum I was going for a run one day, running halfway up the street, and giving up and walking home.
So at the beginning of last year I set myself the challenge of running a half marathon, and ten months later I did just that. I started off slow, running short distances and stopping if I felt I needed to, gradually upping the distance and the amount of times I ran each week.
As the weeks went by, I fell in love with running as a hobby and that love has just grown this year. I’ve entered some more races, completed another half marathon, and am committed to keeping up the hobby over the winter months. It’s been a weird year for many reasons, but running has been a constant. I’d advise everyone to give it a go. Once you train your mind to zone out and forget, you realise how beneficial running is. Here’s why I love it so much…
It’s an escapism
I think this is the main reason that I love running. That hour or so that I’m out in my gym kit and trainers, I forget. I stop thinking about my crazy work schedule, and that never ending to-do list. I am a big worrier, and running helps me to reflect and get some perspective. At the start of a run I can feel all pent up and anxious. By the end, I’m calmer, my head is clearer and I have a plan of action ready to put in place.
It gives you something to focus on
Another thing I’ve felt and talked about this year is loneliness. Living alone, while it has its amazing perks, can also be tough, but running gave me a hobby and something to focus on when I was on my own. It got me out and about and gave me something to do at times when everyone is busy with plans.
Your body can do amazing things
Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned, is that if you put your mind to it, your body can do it. The fact that my legs can carry me around 13.1 miles is pretty incredible. It makes you completely appreciate your body and what it can do.
You learn to look after yourself and nourish your body
As part of that appreciation for your body, you realise that you want to look after it. I try my best to eat well and to train, to get plenty of rest, and the one big change is that I no longer drink alcohol very much. I’d much rather opt for a soda and lime while out on the tiles, in order to train the next day. (Or realistically I’ve probably already gone home to bed by that point!) I feel as though I’ve completely overhauled my life in a good way, and I’m so much happier and less cranky because of it.
It’s a social thing
One thing I really want to do next year is join a running club. I had planned to join one back in the summer, but then I started commuting to Swansea and then Bristol for work, and unfortunately it means I was home too late to join one. Now though, I’m back working in Cardiff and I’m really determined to face my fear and join a local club when the evenings start to get a little lighter next year. I also really enjoyed going running with my training buddy (aka. my mum) this year. It’s a good way to get out and gossip without distraction.
It helps you to feel good
There’s no denying that running, and exercise in general, helps your mental health. For me, the health benefits have been amazing. I’m leaner, I’m more focused, and that feeling on completing a run is incredible. I also really enjoyed having something to train for and the fact that I’ve signed up to some races this year gives me a sense of focus and something to accomplish.
It gets you outdoors
I spend a lot of my time cooped up at a desk in an office, when I’m not out filming on location, so going for a run after work or on the weekends is the perfect way to get some fresh air and to be out in nature for a while. I have a few different running routes, through parks or by the sea, and I love being out in it.
They say the best things in life are free, right? I know running isn’t for everyone, but with hefty gym prices often a hurdle to overcome when it comes to exercising, running is a super cheap alternative.