It’s week 3 of #MoreMumsRunning, and we know some of you might start getting cold feet around now. Whilst we here at TMR could talk about why you should stick at it till the cows come home, we thought you might like to hear it from a TMR Mama who’s been a victim of the week 3 fear, and smashed through it.
Just remember: if you’re a mum then you’re already a superhuman. A running course is nothing in comparison. So don’t give up…You. Can. Do. It!
When it comes to exercise, I am a 3-hit wonder. No matter what new fitness regime I try, the same pattern emerges:
Week 1 – I turn up terrified, but survive with a rush of endorphins when I realise it wasn’t as bad as I feared.
Week 2 – decide this is it – this is the thing that will get me fit.
Week 3 – realise it’s actually quite hard work, that I haven’t immediately lost 2 stone and that I don’t feel any fitter than when I started. And so I give up.
So it’s no surprise that the first two times I tried a couch to 5k, I gave up after the 3rd week. My first attempt was a “Beginner’s running course” on the Downs. The instructor decided on week one that we should all “just run as far as we all can, to see how we get on”. As the majority of the “beginners” shot off into the distance, I transformed back into the 16 year old girl I had once been, at the back of the weekly school cross-country run, being yelled at by an unforgiving PE teacher in a badly-fitting tracksuit. To be honest, it’s a miracle I made it to week 3.
My second effort was through TMR. I joined a lovely group of ladies, with two encouraging run makers on a chilly September evening. And as we got to the end of the first session, I felt the expected high; the “well, that wasn’t so bad”. I diligently did my homework runs and excitedly turned up for week 2. But the demons aren’t ever far away. For me, exercise is a burden, a chore. The thing I know I have to do, but the thing that I have struggled with more than anything else in my adult life. Since adolescence, exercise has been the last resort. I will use any excuse to get out of it. So, in October, excuses came up. I couldn’t do the homework runs. Then I stopped going to the weekly runs because I knew I was getting further behind. I told myself I’d catch up. I knew I was lying to myself.
So..attempt 3: 8 weeks of 8:30 Saturday morning sessions through TMR. My expectations of myself by this point were so low that I told my partner not to worry about being on the early parenting shift every Saturday, because I wouldn’t last the whole course. Except I did. A small group of like-minded, fabulously supportive mums, a fantastically encouraging run-maker in Vanessa MC and an exceptionally persistent Mel Bound who threatened to come to my house on week 4 and drag me to the park if I didn’t turn up voluntarily(!) proved to be the combination I needed to break my 3-week course. 3 weeks ago we finished the course. 1 week after that we met up at the same time again to hit the magic 5k.
So, where am I now? Completing the course is not the magic bullet for me. I jealously read the posts of people who see running as a delight, rather than a burden. But then, I’m dealing with a lifetime of insecurities around fitness. It is inevitable that I still have to talk myself into every single run. But each time I go out, I feel myself getting more confident that I can do this. It isn’t fast, it isn’t pretty, my legs ache, my lungs burn. And yet…occasionally…I get that moment…my stride, my breathing, the weather, the music I’m listening to..it all comes together and I feel…well…like a runner. And therein lies the growing glimmer of hope, that I’m heading towards enjoying this. And that makes the perseverance, the breaking of the 3-week course, all worthwhile.