Sunday, 29 April 2012

'All the gear & no idea'

Hi there! So I’m the new girl who will be taking over the Get Started blog from Kate and will be chronicling my new venture into running over the next six weeks. Before I begin though, a little about me…

My name is Jemma; I’m 28 years old and have always been what you could call 'remedial' at any sort of sport. I was the child who got her pony tail stuck in the cargo net mid-obstacle race at primary school whilst trying to crawl under it. I was the teenager who used to hide from the teachers mid cross country run. I was the older teenager who would feign an ankle injury to get out of 100m sprints. And I am now the adult who has signed up to run a half marathon in October and have absolutely no running ability what so ever. A few panicked expletives do cross the mind at this point.

Luckily, I know a few marathon runners who I pumped for information regarding how I can get myself at a level where I can run 13 odd miles without collapsing. The one piece of advice that they all shared with me (bar buying good running shoes of course) is to join a running club. I must admit, I was sceptical. I assumed the Striders would be full of professional runners and had absolutely no intention of joining until I spotted the 'Get Started' course on their website. So I harangued my flatmate into joining with me and dutifully paid my £12.50 in the hope that I will become 'A Runner' within the next six weeks. And here I am – still standing after my first week and feeling absolutely elated!

So, Tuesday evening at 6:45pm, you would have seen me and my flatmate sitting in her car scared stiff and preparing to run away. This was until we realised that neither of us CAN run and that is the whole point of us attending this course. The nerves were bad as we made our way up to the athletics track in Verulamium Park. There were a number of groups standing around the track and we must have looked a little lost. Luckily, some kindly soul pointed us in the right direction (our first taste of just how friendly and encouraging the Striders are) and we found the other 40 'Get Started' runners.

We started the warm up – running in a large circle whilst stretching (at one point I did feel like I was in a Morecambe and Wise sketch with some of the stretches we were asked to emulate) and I was tired. This then made the panic set in – if I can’t handle a five minute warm-up, how was I going to run around a lake for half hour?! However, I did it. We ran for three minutes and walked for one and I kept up the whole way. 

What also surprised me was that we ran a distance of 2.61 miles (Thank you, Nike GPS!) and I can’t tell you just how proud of myself I was. Helen led our group (the Green group – or intermediate beginner in my opinion) and was fantastic, making sure we all kept up and motivating us to carry on.

Cut to the second session on Thursday. A little more confident this time, I tried not to let the Morecambe & Wise warm-up phase me. This time, our little band of merry runners was led by Abby, who was completing a marathon that week. Again, I managed to keep up and chatted with Abby and the rest of the group as we ran around the picturesque lake and thinking just how nice this all is. Until Abby broke the news that she had actually had us running four minutes to every one minute walk. Normally, this sort of white lie in relation to exercise would make me want to instantly give up, however I was actually none the wiser beforehand and my confidence shot through the roof knowing that I could do this. This time, we ran for 2.5 miles; however there was a little more running involved this time.

It is now Sunday, and I’m gearing up for my first lone run. I’m not sure how I’m going to do without the support of the Striders, so wish me luck. And I can’t wait for next Tuesday to see what I will achieve then….

Jemma Western

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