Evening clouds

Evening clouds
Sunshine and Clouds

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Running on, there's no excuse...

I need to start at a finish line, mid 1990s; not only is this line an end, it's also a place to begin again. To go back a long way to the first start, my last couple of years at primary school were under the same teacher; his approach to me was essentially psychologically abusive, particularly when it came to sports. My secondary school career was not blessed with imaginative approaches to activity, only team games and swimming lessons. Those experiences did not leave me with with a strong desire to pursue fitness. In the last year or so at school they got round to providing circuit training and I began to find pleasure in individual activity. Post school was less active and the onset of shift patterns once I was in nursing seemed a reasonable excuse not to take too much exercise; after all I was in a physically demanding job. In those days gyms were places to learn boxing or body build; Chris my fellow student in my set did enjoy sports and persuaded me to run occasionally around a nearby park. Roll forward about 15 years.

Now in a role with regular hours I'd attend courses and conferences where some of my clinical colleagues would swim or run during spare time; I was impressed but sitting in the sauna seemed preferable. Then as a Macmillan nurse an opportunity arose to volunteer to represent Macmillan Cancer Relief (as it was then) in a London Marathon. There were few places and I was confident I'd not be picked; I'd seen so many fitter colleagues who be sure to get signed up. What made me think I could do a marathon? I'd found the development of the London Marathon a fascinating phenomenon and thought as a Londoner it would be good to enter it “one day”. I was at this point close to 40 and decided I'd like to try the marathon before I got to that age.

You can guess what happened - in October 1994 I was told I'd got a place in the Macmillan marathon team. Dumbfounded I gathered my wits and realised an acquaintance at the time knew about running a marathon. He advised me on the type of footwear to acquire and offered training help to get to the 10-11 mile distance by New Year's Day 1995. After that his own elite runner training required me to take it from there. So that in April 1995 on what turned out to be a nice warm sunny day I crossed that finish line; no speedy time just the intense pleasure of crossing the finish line; that one I started with above. Along the way I'd grown to love the improved fitness, the ‘buzz’ of the endorphins and the knowledge that I'd conquered the ghosts of my scholastic sporting past.

After that as the family expanded and ‘life’ took over running faded; the excuse list grew. And now I'm nearing the stage of needing to refine retirement plans and have had brushes with potentially serious health issues. I noticed too my love of the couch, the only place to be after a long though sedentary day. So taking more note of what I should and should eat and drink and having started taking regular medicines I began to see colleagues in the We communities making a difference to their lives through #NursesActive on Twitter. I was impressed and a little envious; and then it hit me I had no excuse not to be fitter.
Now there are apps that will help you start to run and gradually gain in what you can achieve. I'm amazed at how quickly my little hairy legs have got back into the groove; the buzz of accomplishment alongside the fresh air and better sleep are a bonus. I'm investing in me and my future health as well as enjoying the sensation of feeling better equipped to face each day both mentally and physically.
That 1995 finish line, and the last staggering steps down the Mall was a place of endings and beginnings; it feels good to take time for myself and to make sure that now I'm 60+ I'll be around and in better shape than I have been in a long time.
Thanks to all those supporting #NursesActive and supporting The Cavell Nurses Trust; look at the myriad activities nurses have so creatively participated in and ask yourself if you really have a valid excuse not to do something active. Remember, you're really worth it.
Crossing the finish line, 2nd April 1995, waving in victory and forgetting to stop my timer!

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