In the past I’d hear the above phrase and my eye would twitch. I’d be thinking those words may rhyme but that is the only context in which they belong together. So imagine my surprise when this run I did was actually fun.
The fun run in question was the annual Melbourne Marathon event held last Sunday. I woke up at 5.30 in the morning, downed a cold, double shot of espresso, chased that down with an Up & Go and went running.
I might just backtrack here and discuss my brief and shallow relationship with running. I am not by any standards a “fitness” person… and these “fitness” people do exist, believe me I know because I must follow all of them on Instagram. Anyway, the running thing started when I downloaded Couch-to 5K. There are a few different variations of this particular app but the premise is the same. Run, walk, run, walk in steadily increasing distances and “in just 9 weeks” you will be running 5Ks without a break. For some bizarre reason, I actually stuck with this for the full 9 weeks.
Towards the end of my 5K training I visited a friend in Adelaide. It was Halloween, she had a party. I dressed as Nicki Minaj which meant a hot pink wig, feathered eye lashes and a fake booty. The running program was brought up over home-made brownies and cider. I confidently (due to the cider consumption) announced that once I was done with the 5K training I would move on to the 10K.
“You won’t” said the girl sitting across from me who had arrived late to the party and whose name I couldn’t remember (or perhaps never learned).
“I did that app and thought that as well but, trust me, you won’t.”
Well, girl I don’t know, if it weren’t for your words of discouragement, maybe I wouldn’t have. BUT, as it turns out, something inside of me passionately dislikes being told what I will and won’t and can and cannot do, particularly by someone I’ve never met who turns up to a costume party with her hair in braids and claims to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I still feel a kind of dull, burning rage whenever I remember this moment, this short exchange with a near stranger. She glances up briefly to add her 2 cents to the conversation before turning her attention back to her iPhone.
I finished Couch-To-5K and downloaded the next app in the series – “5-10K”. In this program you run for steadily increasing periods of time until you are running 10K without stopping. Again it’s a 9 week program. I didn’t follow this one as strictly as the first but eventually I did complete it.
There were over 30,000 people in the CBD that Sunday morning to run in the 3K, 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon events. I had signed up to run the 10K and having done nothing remotely like it since my year five inter-school cross country I was having a minor freak out over the immenseness of the whole event. As soon as I crossed the line though, I felt totally at ease. It was an absolutely beautiful day and it’s such an amazing opportunity and privilege to have these usually hectically busy roads closed just for you (y’know and 29,999 other people).
One of the main things that gets me on my weekly runs is the opportunity to listen to new music. That day Taylor Swift’s new single came out I ran for almost an hour just so I could listen to it on repeat without my boyfriend breaking up with me. For some reason, however, I decided to run without headphones for the race. Running along the deserted tram tracks up Batman Avenue, down Flinders Street and along St Kilda Road past iconically Melbourne sites – the MCG, Flinders Street Station, the NGV – was a surreal experience to say the least. I felt light, and isolated. I could hear breathing, distant cheering and thousands of feet pounding pavement but it seemed so tranquilly quiet. I feel as though I should cling to that memory as it’s the closest thing I will probably experience to living in a post apocalyptic world where the Melbourne CBD is empty and I am wandering the streets alone…
I should probably have some kind of point to this post rather than going on about my creepy desire to be there at the end of the world – I guess I will share some advice? Yes, here is some wisdom I have gained through my running journey imparted unto you:
Practice Means Progress
Long distance running is such an easy thing to track. As long as you are consistent you will notice a huge difference in your abilities and fitness, and nothing motivates like self-improvement with obvious results. If you’ve ever wanted to try running to work on your cardio, feel healthier, make your dog happy, lose some weight, whatever it is, I highly recommend downloading a running app for your phone. You don’t have to think about how to train because the app does it all for you – all you have to do is get out the door.
Put Your Shoes On
This is a weird one so stay with me. The struggle for most people with the above is the “getting out the door” part. I recently read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Tharp is in her 70s yet she goes to the gym every morning at 5am. She says that all she needs to do to get herself out the door is put on her sneakers. I am telling you this helps a LOT! It is so hard to find the motivation to exercise (or do anything productive at all) if you are still wearing your pyjamas. Kind-of-sort-of want to go for a run but not sure? Put your shoes on. You’ll be amazed at the sudden motivation you feel!
Be In It To Win It
Sign up for a race near you. The terror of an impending race/public embarrassment does wonders for the motivation. Also, if you’re not in it for the running, do it for the site seeing. Running freely through some of Melbourne’s busiest streets has given me an unfamiliar desire to want to sign up for more of these events around the world to see new cities from a different perspective.
I finished Couch-to-5K wearing a pair of Adidas cross trainers I’d had since high school. I told myself if I learned to run 5K I was allowed to buy myself a new pair of shoes. These are the Mizunos that got me from 5-10K.
They are less than a year old and dirtier and more beat up than my 5 year old cross trainers ever were. Next year I’ll be signing up for the half marathon so as you can probably guess I am really excited (…about my next pair of shoes).
Love Your H8rs
Don’t let that random girl you met at a party tell you how to live. Even though she probably doesn’t remember or care about what she said or how it made you feel, it will feel oh so satisfying to prove her wrong.