Today I did a crazy thing. I’ve signed up me and 11YO to take part in a 5km ‘Bubble Rush’ fun run later on this month – 17 days from now to be exact. I’m 43, drive to work and sit at a desk all day and I have never been fit in my life. But on 23rd April I will be attempting to run 5km, in the company of my daughter who is much, MUCH faster than me, and 2000 other people besides in aid of our local hospice.
Let’s be clear about this: I don’t do sport. My stock answer when the children ask me why I can’t keep up when they’re running round like maniacs is “Mummies don’t run” (of course at this point one of them will usually point out “Well X’s mummy is doing a half marathon”, leaving me to shamefacedly mumble some other excuse, which they don’t hear because they’ve usually run off again already)… Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, sport and me. We don’t mix. The nerdy kid in glasses, always last to be picked for the netball team at school, faking letters from my parents to get out PE … you name it, every non-sporting stereotype applies. As soon as I slouched out of school at the age of 16, I heaved a sigh of relief and turned my back on the whole world of fitness. For most of my 20’s and early 30’s I relied on the fact that I was working in quite physically demanding jobs – retail and events – to keep me semi-active, but for the last decade, since I started a more desk-based job, I’ve been a total couch potato.
But it can’t go on like this – not without consequences. That’s the thing about being in your forties, you start to notice, well, age creeping up on you. Sitting at a computer all day is making my shoulders and knees ache. My hips creak when I stand up and I’d rather miss a bus than run for it. I’m starting to become uncomfortably aware of how rubbish I feel most of the time, and I’m realising that a few more years like this could really do me some serious damage.
Which brings me onto the 5k run. I’m not the kind of person who’s ever going to take exercise too seriously, so signing up for a fun run where you get to charge headlong through walls of coloured bubbles sounds about right for me. I’m really looking forward to the bubbles bit… it’s just the running, and the whole 5km thing, which I’m not too sure about.
So last night, 11YO put me through my paces by taking me to jog round the 2km course which she does at Junior Park Run. Despite the fact that it was bitterly cold and rainy, we started off together but before long she was about 200m ahead of me, turning round and jogging on the spot, yelling at me to hurry up. I started off well I thought – until the route went up hill, at which point my legs started to feel like they were wading through partially set concrete. Dressed in a fleece with a broken zip and a pair of baggy trackie bottoms that have spent the last few years being my ‘watching DVDs and eating chocolates trousers’, I must have looked a fine sight wheezing round the park. I managed one lap – ie a kilometre – of the two lap course in about 10 minutes. 11YO’s personal best for the full 2km is about 11 minutes – in other words she can run twice as fast as me. We were quiet in the car on the way home; me because I could still barely speak, her because I think she was actually stunned into silence by how useless I was.
Apparently there are these things called endorphins, which make you feel good after exercise. But I’m guessing that they take a while to work, as all I felt after last night’s run was sick, tired snd shaky. I’m now at a point which I’ve reached several times before – having attempted to exercise, hated it, and ready to give up. Can I get past this stage and actually reach a point where exercise is enjoyable rather than just painful? I’ll let you know how I get on….