Ever gone out for a run or a ride or any other hobby for that matter and it just felt effortless? This happened to me a few weeks ago.
I got into running semi-seriously last year after watching a bunch of ultra-marathon trail running documentaries and the idea of running long distances in the mountains or remote trails excited me! I love being in the outdoors, particularly remote parts of the world and I’m always up for a hard physical challenge that pushes me beyond my comfort. One documentary about a 100 mile race in Leadville, Colarado really got me. The scenery and the mountains just looked so spectacular. So that was it, I decided I wanted to run ultra-marathon trail races. The fact that I’d barely done any serious running races before or that I hadn’t done any actual running for quite a while didn’t even enter my thoughts.
But then reality set in during my first “run”. I barely lasted a minute or two before my legs started to hurt and I was running out of breath! My first thought was, “This running thing is f’ing hard!” It didn’t make any sense. I used to be a pretty fit cyclist and I was a half decent runner in my early 20’s, this can’t be right. How am I going to run 100 miles if I can’t even run to the end of the street! Unfortunately a couple of years of inactivity and a sedentary job had taken it’s toll and I’d forgotten that. I was no longer the fit person I thought I still was. With that in mind I went back to the drawing board.
The next day I downloaded an app that claimed it could get me from being “couch fit” to being able to run 5k in 8 weeks. It starts you off small by only running for a short amount of time then walking for a bit and repeating that a number of times. The first week was 30 second runs followed by 90 seconds walking and it gradually builds up week by week. By week 8, I was running for 30 minutes straight and the last run of the week was a 5k. The next week I started the 10k app. Shortly after that I signed up to a 25k trail race in the high country of Australia, which I completed back in March.
Even though I was now becoming a bit of a runner, I was still finding it tough. Even short runs were hard work. Until a few weeks ago when I went out for a run at sunset. It was a Monday evening on one of those beautiful Australian autumn days, not too hot, not too cool and the sun low on the horizon creating bright orange and red colours across the sky. It was only going to be a short run, just down to the lake and back, 2 – 3k’s at most, but I took my headlamp just in case. I got down to the lake and decided I’d take the scenic route home, linking up with some trails that run next to the river near home. There was something different about this run, it just felt effortless. I felt relaxed, I wasn’t breathing hard, my legs didn’t feel tired and everything felt right. So I kept running. What was going to be a quick 15 minute run turned into over an hour.
Ever since that night, running has felt easier, more enjoyable. They’re not always effortless, but I feel like I’m getting somewhere and progressing as a runner. I’ve entered a 50k trail race along the south coast of Australia later this year and I can’t wait.
After that first “run” when I barely made it down the street, I could have easily thrown in the towel, but I didn’t. Instead I got some help, stuck at, was patient and consistent and now things are starting to come together.