I’m usually good at running. It’s supposed to be my “thing”. I started running in second year of Uni, when a diet of pasta, rosé and salt and vinegar crisps inevitably made my jeans too tight. I remember my first run – I was wearing a pair of completely inappropriate “athleisure” jogging bottoms from Topshop and a baggy pyjama t-shirt. I must’ve looked a right fool as I flailed hopelessly around the allotments near our house.
At first I was terrible at running. I’d struggle to run for all of a minute before gasping and stumbling. I hated the sharpness of the cold air in my throat, and having to dodge past well groomed people on the pavement while red faced, out of breath and dishevelled.
But I persevered. Soon enough I was wearing my mum’s friend’s old Lycra, a proper sports bra, and running 5k four times a week. I discovered new paths, hidden parks and the best views over Leeds. I realised I loved running in the rain, that nothing clears a bad mood quite like running up a big hill, and that the ache of tired muscles made lazy days so much sweeter.
Then I bought some expensive running trainers. That, as any runner will tell you, is the ultimate commitment to the sport. After spending £95 on shoes that you aren’t allowed to wear to clubs, weddings or for work, you’re damn well going to make sure you get your money’s worth out of them.
I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, a Total Warrior, a Colour Run and a Half Marathon. Running gets me totally high off endorphins, it keeps me fit and healthy, and it’s on long, solitary runs when I have the best ideas and inspiration.
So why have I only been for two runs since moved to London six weeks ago? Why am I failing at something I know I love to do?
I’m working full time
I haven’t worked full-time hours for two years. I’m a freelancer, so that usually means if I manage my time well, I can go for a run whenever I feel like it. When I was living in Leeds I could set off at 11am when the sun was out, or go in the mid-afternoon slump when everyone in your office was trying not to doze off behind their desks. There was always time for running when I was working from home.
But now I’m working on a contract, which means I’m working real person hours, and I’m totally not accustomed to it. I have to get up at a set time, and commute to work. I work a full day, every day. I can’t just nip to the shops if I want to, or procrastinate by tidying the house. I barely even have time to write blogs about not going running, so how the hell am I supposed to find time to go for a run?!
I’m in a new city
I’m still finding my feet in London. It’s massive and cool and exciting. There are a million things to do, tons of places I want to see, and dozens of friends I want to meet up with. It’s actually quite overwhelming having so much on your doorstep.
All my plans of a healthy new lifestyle have been put on hold because I want pastry and beer and curry and happy hour and coffee and gin and cheese. Going for a run has been pushed so far down my to do list that it barely even features. Literally every other exciting thing takes priority. I’m like that puppy who gets distracted by everything.
Being totally honest, when I’m not at work or out doing fun things, I just want to sit in my pyjamas and binge-watch Better Call Saul. Just the idea of putting on my leggings and galloping around the park makes me need a lie down.
I’m good at making excuses
It’s too hot. It’s really busy in the park. I’ve got to do some work for one of my clients. I said I’d cook dinner tonight. I need some new running clothes. I don’t know my way around. My knee hurts. All of these are very persuasive excuses when I’m trying to work up the motivation to go for a run.
I have runner’s block
It’s a thing. Yes it is. I’ve over-thought going for a run so much so that I’m genuinely a bit scared of going for one. It’s been so long that I’m worried I’ll be back to my awful-running stage again, and that sleek London runners will point and laugh at me as they glide past.
I am old and decrepit
I’ve got a sore knee and a creaky hip from all the mountain climbing in South America. I’m worried they might fall off.
The great thing about writing this blog is that I could’ve been on a run instead. So while writing about failing to run, I have failed to run. However, it has also reminded me why I love running so much, and now that my failure is out in the open it’s time to do something about it. As Henry Ford once said: “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Get ready for The Running Diaries. Now, where are my trainers?