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The two firsts that changed my life

running life
Running is one of the things that has changed my life…

Just over a year ago a couple of firsts changed my life for ever. I went overseas and I walked a fun run – Fitzy’s 5. Not that big a deal, I hear you say. People do stuff like that all the time.

But between then and now, I’ve lost close to 20 kilograms. And I’ve gotten fit, and I mean really fit. Fitter than I ever was even in my twenties. And I’m closer to fifty than I am to forty.

My trip to Vietnam was the impetus for losing the weight. I knew I had put on some kilowattage but I didn’t realise how much until I saw my photos. The fat chick staring back at me who looked vaguely familiar was me. My boobs were huge. They looked like melons, they were so big. I was that large? Really? So I put my money where my mouth was and did Lite N Easy for two months (the 1200 calorie plan) and I dropped 5kgs quick, with no exercise to speak of.

Then I plateaued. I lost nothing for a couple of weeks. I ditched Lite N Easy and went back to “normal” food (that’s not quite true: I ordered the Lite N Easy dinners for when Miss T wasn’t home. Everyone knows cooking for one is a huge drag!). I found that the reason I plateaued was because my body had gotten used to its 1200 calories per day and adjusted. What I had to do was confuse my body, and the best way to do that was to calorie load one day of the week, followed by calorie restriction the other days, coupled with exercise.

But what exercise? Gyms bored me to snores, plus I found the idea of having to go somewhere to do exercise a major psychological barrier. I always enjoyed walking, but didn’t really find it challenging. Then I remembered my promise to Dave Fitzsimons when I walked my first fun run in 2010 to honour his legacy. I had promised him I would run the next one.

So I found a run coaching app – Get Running (there’s an app for everything these days!) and in December of 2010, I started running. I could hardly run 30 metres without being puffed and tired, but I persevered, and I saw myself gradually improve. Amazingly, I kept running over winter (outside, and I switched to mornings to beat the darkness at the end of the day when I usually ran). I just got a decent (waterproof) running jacket and bought some Skins. And I lost more weight over winter. And, what’s more, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it for the sense of challenge; I’m not an overly competitive person, but I like the idea of competing against myself, of beating myself.

And when August rolled around and it was time to register for Fitzy’s 5, I was ready. And I ran most of it. And I was thrilled with my time! And then I went to China two weeks later, and stopped running. It’s too easy to lose the routine.

I knew I had to get back into it and I had checked out running groups previously, in particular, the SA Roadrunners Club. Three weeks ago, I went to my first group run (at 8am on a Sunday morning, mind you!), and after not running for close to two months, I managed to run quite a bit of the 3km course. The next week, it was was 4km and I ran my best time and furthest distance since I began running. Last week it was a 5km course and I struggled, but I still ran further and quicker than I ever could by myself. Until last night, that is, when I ran my usual 4km(ish) course and I ran most of the way. I blew my own socks off!

So now, I’m looking at what 5km events that I can enter in 2012 and I NEVER in a MILLION years thought that would be me. But every time I put on my running gear (even when I’m tired and I don’t feel like it) I feel strong and powerful and fit and wonderful. It’s a case of why would I not run?

People say to me: “But I’m not a runner!” And my response is: “Neither was I!”

And it’s true. If I can do it, practically anyone can.

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