It's amazing that I spend so much of my time now as a Running Coach because my first experiences with running were not pleasant. Something I've learned had nothing to do with running and everything to do with how I felt about myself. They also taught me that the seemingly negative times no matter how hard are often part of the plan that leads us to where we are meant to be.
Running lead me to RUNCLUB and RUNCLUB changed my life.
I first ran in 2007 after my daughter was born when I decided to train for a marathon. Taking off up the road near my house like a rocket to then almost collapse red faced and embarrassed about ten minutes in at most. I persisted, printing off a random training plan, stuck it on the fridge and completed the Dublin Marathon 16 weeks later in a little over 5 hours. I desperately wanted to feel the sense of achievement that so many others spoke about but instead felt deflated and disappointed.
In 2011 I repeated the experience this time having trained with a local club. I would leave each session disheartened, criticizing and comparing myself to the other stronger women in the group. Again nothing to do with the club but my low self-esteem and seemingly constant need to put myself under the pressure of almost unattainable goals.
Which this time was to complete in 3 hours and 30 minutes plucked almost randomly because it sounded like one a "good" runner would finish in. Now I would say there is no "good" or "bad" that everyone who has the courage to take that first step, tie up their laces and try their best is equal.
As the voice of doubt and anxiety about my ability grew louder I over trained in an attempt to silence it but ended up injured and was advised not to run.
Ignoring this and in a blind panic the day before the marathon I went for a slow jog barely managing two miles.
31st October 2011 -Start line. Dublin city Marathon.
I stood, knee strapped up beside the 3.30 pacers already consumed with doubt. I felt a fraud and completely out of place amongst the crowd around me. By mile six as we entered the Phoenix Park I was in agony and already having to stop walk a minute then run.
By the halfway point and already well over my best half marathon time I stopped with a lump in my throat fighting back tears. Then came torrential rain and by now I was neither walking nor jogging but dragging myself along. Stopping again at mile twenty one it was the kindness of another runner who stayed with me that got me through those last few miles.
Did I feel elation to have crossed the finish line? No. Did I praise myself for the huge feat of endurance I had achieved? No. I went home and cried in the bath. Two of my toenails fell off. Cried more. Painted my children's faces and brought them to a Halloween party where I wouldn't allow myself a piece of chocolate. Filled with self-pity running was definitely not something that I allowed to bring me happiness.
Three years later having come across a running coach in the U.K called George Anderson I began to enjoy running for the first time as I followed his half-marathon plan and it was from this and knowing he had a plan for non- runners that Beginner's RUNCLUB was born.
If you haven't exercised in years or ever, if you are dealing with a voice of doubt like I was, if you are self-conscious of your appearance or lack of fitness, "just getting out" can be a daunting and scary task.
Something I experienced first hand last Winter when I began to struggle with severe anxiety. I didn't want to get up from beneath my duvet or let anyone see me. But knowing the group was waiting for me I would drive to the track and wait my heart racing, hands clammy not knowing if I could get of the car.
I did, and running with them didn't fix me but it always felt better to be outside of my house and outside of my head. When sometime later I began compiling my list of good feeling triggers for my " Secret Experiment " Fresh Air each day became number six. http://www.hannah-lilly.com
This blog is for anyone who is afraid of taking that first step towards whatever it is you want to do, anyone who spends more time agreeing with the voice of doubt than ignoring it and my public thank you letter. Because every day I am filled with gratitude to George Anderson http://beginnersluckbook.com for writing a book and plan that has truly changed lives and to every single member of RUNCLUB for their dedication in pursuing something they never believed possible.
It began with a wish to create a non- competitive club that would be about more than the running, a place where people could feel comfortable in their own skin, good about themselves and proud of their achievements and inadvertently that is exactly what it did for me.
If you would like to start your own journey from non-runner to runner George Anderson's book and plan can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Luck-Guide-Non-Runners-Scratch/dp/150053790X