SportPursuit would like to welcome born-again marathon runner Liz Goodchild as our new running guest-blogger. Since starting Runnerstood in early-2011, the wild-haired author has completed marathons, half-marathons and ultra-marathons across the globe. We look forward to feeling inspired...and unfit.
Four years ago, I got up from the couch where I had lazily dozed all day, put on a pair of old trainers and declared that I was going for a run.
I don’t really know why I suddenly decided to go for that run.
Running had never interested me before. In fact, exercise had never interested me before.
I stepped out of my front door and jogged ever so slowly for approximately half a kilometer down the road, before running out of breath and cramping up.
I limped back home, beaten yet invigorated.
I remember that run so very clearly. It is firmly etched in my mind amongst other life-changing events – the kind that roll in like a huge barrel wave, knocking you sideways, sucking you into their terrifying vastness, and then spitting you out the other side, spluttering and bewildered, yet enlightened.
Back home, standing in my kitchen, clutching the work-surface as I stretched my screaming calves, I felt something change within me – an almost inexplicable shift in how I identified with myself, like a magnetic organic pull.
A tiny seed had been planted. A tiny running seed that would quietly cultivate a flourishing new me.
The next day, I laced up my trainers again and went out for another run, this time venturing a little further. I think I ran about 5K in total – an uncomfortable walk-jog-walk combination, and yet despite the discomfort, I felt strong, capable and empowered. Once more, I returned home exhausted but elated.
Several months passed by and I slowly but surely managed to run 10 kilometers or so without stopping. One day, whilst running to work, I noticed a local half marathon advertised on a lamppost, and so I impulsively signed up for it, knowing that I would have to train hard. I scoured the Internet for half-marathon training plans, and bought myself a pair of proper running trainers, clothes and a Garmin GPS watch. My days were arranged around my running schedule, and I constantly read books and magazine articles to garner tips and advice on becoming a better runner.
Weeks of training went by and I started to feel so much better, I lost weight and began to pay better attention to the way I fuelled my body so that I could run faster and for longer. Most importantly, my attitude towards the way I viewed myself also started to change. I had always thought that I wasn’t capable of doing things; I’d spent so many years hiding in the shadows, too afraid to step up and challenge myself in life, and yet here I was, training for a half marathon on a whim and pushing my body and mind to places I’d never been before.
There were days when I wanted to give up.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I would sit under a tree in the local park, part of my running route, head in hands, crying with frustration.
Running challenges me in ways that I’ve never experienced – it pushes and prods and hurts and dares me to go further, faster, and harder. It would have been so easy to just bail, let myself be beaten, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t allow it.
Today I can look back on two completed marathons, 1 ultra-marathon and a hand-full of half marathons.
I am still running.
When I run, nothing matters. It’s just me and the sky and the ground beneath my feet. My day can be horrific, my shoulders stooped and burdened with the cumbersome bags of emotion I regularly heave upon them, and yet when I run, I shake myself free, my heart races and the furnace in my body burns with a fiery intensity.
Running is so much more to me than just exercise. Running provides me with a mental and spiritual strength that I just cannot channel from any other source. Running brings me home and help sme to deepen my relationship with myself. A 20 mile training run can kick-up a multitude of physical challenges; blisters, cramping, chafing, swollen feet and aching, and yet the mental hurdles are often the worst to contend with, specifically the all-encompassing desire to just STOP.
But I never do.
I keep on running. I keep on digging deep. Running unleashes my inner-badass and I stride purposefully, powered by a strength that resonates and rumbles loudly from within. Running challenges everything I think I am. I’ve never been one to stick at anything, I half-heartedly practice playing the guitar, I don’t write nearly enough as much as I intend to, I make plans and then break them, but I rarely miss a run. I am consistent and disciplined and I. Stick. At. It.
Running is where I find my peace; my thoughts flow clearly, and I feel capable, content and passionate about my life.
Most of all, I run because I can.