I could never… inspire people to run

I ran with the Saturday morning Walk2Run group from The Pelham, a community hub in Bexhill on Sea.

The run leader and inspiration behind the group is Jacqueline Haas and she tells her story in the audio below, recorded after the hill training session she took me on.

It’s a story of a non-runner to a long runner; from being inspired to being the inspiration and tackling the not-talked-about-enough-subject of suicide and mental health.

The messages I’ve taken from it are to thrive in your ambition and surround yourself with people that share it with you.  It shows how, by allowing yourself to be inspired and applying some persistence, you can create a positive change for you and for others.

I love this story because it’s not an overnight success story, but shows that by doing something that feels right in your whole body (in this case running) you will experience life’s twists and turns to the full.  It will be at times terrifying and exciting but the result is energising and satisfaction.

Jacky has a blog about her running experiences http://www.walk2run.org/ . If you’re in the East Sussex area, go run with her!

I could never… run a muddy, obstacle race

Running is no longer enough, it seems.  Now people need to prove themselves by adding obstacles in a run.  And mud. This is not good news for someone who happily falls into the category of “average club runner”.  This is double not good for an average club runner averse to mud.  I don’t like mud, never have done, and whilst I can tolerate it now, my natural instinct is to avoid.

So how did I find myself at the start of a muddy obstacle race? Here’s the story:

At a conference, a colleague was telling me what jolly, good fun these muddy race things were.  I rolled my eyes but somewhere in my mind my self development work kicked in and I heard the words “comfort zone” and creating barriers”.  I asked myself whether “I don’t like mud” was a good enough excuse? Afterall, I can run and I love a physical challenge and who knows when I might need to run through mud to escape baddies.

running shoes
Note: no mud on my running shoes

Roll on a couple of  months and I find myself leaving home early on an October morning and parking up in a field on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells. I pretend it’s just an ordinary trail run, attach  my number and enter the warm up area (all the time reassuring my colleague that I was fine, but reminding him that I wasn’t looking forward to it). To be honest, I really wasn’t sure if I could do it,which sounded ridiculous but real in my head. The starting gun was fired and a steep descent led to a winding path through the wood. And then, there it was: a dank, muddy stream to cross. I paused for a while whilst my co-competitors happily jumped in and gave myself a quick talking to. I took a deep breath and gingerly (as gingerly as you can when you’re waist deep in mud and old water) made my way across the stream and scrambled out the other side remembering to  breathe again once I’d got out.

The good news is that I made it round the rest of the course.  I still had the voice in my head telling me I was going to end up face first in the mud until I’d cross the finish line but I kept going – lots of deep breaths and each obstacle gave me the confidence to tackle the next one.

I didn’t enjoy it.

I felt a massive sense of achievement.

Now I know that I can run a muddy, obstacle race. No plans to enter another one though!