Friday 22 June 2012

I am a runner

There are times in your life when you meet someone, quite unexpectedly, with whom you have an immediate connection. This happened to me not long after I joined twitter when I started to exchange tweets with today's guest poster, Liz.

There aren't enough words to express the depth of my admiration for this lady. Not only is Liz warm, friendly, kind and funny but she has a wonderful attitude towards life. She's not one to be found on the sidelines watching it passing her by; she gets in there, tries things out and embraces opportunity and experiences joyfully.

Getting to know Liz has also given me the opportunity to get to know more about myself but I'm not going to talk about that right here and now because I've promised a guestpost on the subject for Liz's blog. You'll just have to keep your eyes open for that instead!

You can find Liz on twitter here and seriously, follow her!

Then go and read her beautifully written and very eclectic blog called "Margot and Barbara" here.

But before you do either of those things, have a read of this...

I am a runner.

It happened almost by accident. In 2006, I was pregnant with my first child. In the twenty-nineth week of that pregnancy, during a routine appointment, the midwife realised that I had all the signs of early onset pre-eclampsia and I was sent to the hospital. I was there for a few days, injected with steroids and told to expect an early delivery to save both of us. A couple of days later, I went home, only to end up doubled up in pain. The pre-eclampsia had got worse and I’d also got HELLP syndrome. The pain that I thought was indigestion was really my liver shutting down.

I was rushed into hospital, stabilised and then given an emergency caesarian section. My daughter was born weighing only 2lb 11oz and was rushed off into the neonatal unit before I’d even seen her. I didn’t find out until much later that they’d had to resuscitate her at birth. Thankfully, nine weeks later we were able to bring her home and she’s now a bright and beautiful five year old with no signs of the story of her dramatic arrival.

Despite going through all of this, which really was the most difficult time of our lives, we decided a couple of years later that we’d like another baby. To assess the risk of me having pre-eclampisa again, we had a meeting with a specialist consultant. His advice? There was a one in ten chance of it re-occuring and the best thing I could do to bring down my risk and lower my blood pressure was to get fit. The fastest way to get fit? Running...

The problem with running was that it initally brought out the child in me. The one who took extra German classes so that she could miss PE. The one who hated sports day. It’s not that I didn’t like to be active, I rode, ran and played outside as a child all the time. I just hated the competitive nature of PE at school, whether that was as part of a hockey team or running the 800 metres and that was what I still thought of ‘running’.

So, I struggled with the idea of running as an adult. I needed to get fit quickly, and cheaply though so really I had few options. The treadmill was quickly ruled out. I didn’t have one of my own so it would have meant joining a gym which I wasn’t going to do. I am a member of a gym now, but still haven’t got over the ridiculous progression of our lives that means we have to go to a special place to run, row and climb nowhere!

I also knew that, left to my own devices, I’d carry on with the sedentary lifestyle that had contributed to the pre-eclampsia in the first place, whatever my good intentions were. I needed a running partner. Someone to encourage me to start, and to keep on going. Someone with a vested interest in keeping me fit and healthy. My husband.

We started running together each week. When I say running, I really mean jogging a few steps, keeling over with breathlessness, walking a bit, running a few more steps, and so on. Over the following weeks, I was running a little more, walking a little less and feeling better than I’d done for years. Yes, it was painful. Yes, I was slow. And yes, I spent a lot of time lagging behind my already-fit husband cursing in his direction as he reminded me of the good it was doing me; the most maddening thing I could ever be told.

Apart from knowing that he was right, and that I was working for a healthy pregnancy, I kept going because I had muscles in my thighs that I never knew existed and I was surprising myself by enjoying it. It worked too - in May 2009 I gave birth to a healthy baby boy after a normal pregnancy, with my blood pressure only going up during the birth. I even managed to run a 5k race in the early stages of my pregnancy before my anxiety about keeping the baby safe made me give up running until after he was born.

We ran, and still do run, off road. This has made a huge difference to me, because it appeals to that child who spent her time outdoors. I run through the woods and along bridle-paths. In the Spring, there are bluebells scenting the air and keeping me going. In the Autumn I run through crunchy piles of leaves, kicking them in the air as I go. In the Winter, I skate like Bambi over frozen puddles or sink in the snow. Always, I run through or jump over puddles. It is fun. I’m not the fastest of runners, I know that I’m slow, but it doesn’t matter.

These days, with two small children and a full time job, I have less time to run. My knees are creaky and my feet are often sore. But when I have the time, I run.

I have run. I do run. I will run.

I am a runner.


Anonymous said...

Lovely post, I think a lot of the time people dismiss learning to run as something they have to be good or fast at to enjoy when really they should just enjoy the journey that running takes them on.

Liz said...

Hello! Very excited to see my first guest post here. It's a shame that we don't look like that couple running in the photo...although perhaps I shouldn't have admitted that!

Anonymous said...

No one said runners had to be fast. I come last or nearly last in every race but still beat the people who stayed in the sofa. You go girl! Sleepingkitten x

Anonymous said...

Such a great description of what it's like being a runner, how from a slow start you gradually become addicted to it. Totally agree on running off road also, so much more interesting than miles of tarmac.

Wag Doll said...

What a great post! Love your journey as to how you developed a love of running, and your bundle of joy that came from it! It's good to remind people that most of us aren't 'good runners', you *become* good at running with practice and can then enjoy it. I'm on that journey too but got a long way to go to get to your level...but I'm getting there! Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration. x

Wendy said...

Wow - I did not know that. You really are an inspiring woman! So glad everything turned out well, and I can't wait to run with you soon! x

Unknown said...

Very interesting post. Well done for becoming a runner and helping to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

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