SLJ Beginners jogging course week one – The three legged donkey starts out
A few years ago my sisters informed me that I should never, ever run in public as I look like a three legged donkey. Combine that with the fact that on more than one occasion I've been laughed at by complete strangers when I've run for a train, I haven't run anywhere for a long, long time. (And missed a few trains as a result).
So it was slightly odd to find myself leaving the house in the pouring rain at 8.30 last week to do a jogging taster session. I felt sick from nerves and really just wanted to go back to bed... But to my amazement, it wasn't the hour of torture I had anticipated, it was really good fun. So much so that when I got home I signed up for the full six week SLJ Complete Beginner Jogging Course.
This week we started in the same way – walking from Hollybush, over Seal Hollow Road and into the Knole park entrance that my family have always referred to as the hole in the wall. Despite finding the taster week enjoyable, I felt slightly nervous as we started again. A brisk walk with very enthusiastic arms, followed by some lunging and moves to open our hips made me glad I was part of a group as, to be honest, I did feel a bit daft. We walked up the hill towards Knole House (I’m promised that we will always walk up that hill) before stopping at the top for some mobilisation exercises. Then it was time to start and the butterflies in my tummy were making themselves known. Only it’s not terrifying in the way that it was when I attempted a run on my own before all this; it’s just a thirty second burst. And it’s not fast. In fact, it’s so gentle that you can keep on chatting with the rest of the group while you jog, which seems to me to be as important as the running…
Now, one of my biggest concerns with running is ‘other people’ laughing at me. It’s happened before and I feel like a fraud in my lyrca and trainers – I’m not a ‘real runner’ after all. In the taster week we only saw deer, and they stayed far enough away so I couldn’t hear their amusement.
This week though, we could see a lot of people at Knole House, because Ben Smith who is doing the 401 Challenge was starting marathon 229 and runners – real runners - were joining him. Surely they would laugh at us and our baby steps in this running malarkey? But another good thing about being part of a group is having more than one perspective – the other girls pointed out, quite accurately, that all runners had to start where we were. In fact, we stopped and spoke to Ben and he said that he had only started running 4 years ago and was really encouraging.*
So we continued as we had in the taster week: running for thirty seconds and walking for a minute. A couple of times we ran for a minute, and I’ll be honest, I did notice the difference, but only in that I had to stop chatting – there was no pain or ‘my lungs might explode’ moments.
Going home is always easier on any journey and this class is no exception – mostly because it’s pretty much downhill. At the bottom of the hill we ran, as a group, for two minutes. TWO minutes! A three legged donkey wouldn’t be able to manage that, so maybe I’m already getting somewhere.
A great part of the session is meeting all the runners for a coffee at the end. Really encouraging runners who were where I am just a few months ago and are now doing distances I can’t even contemplate, and actually smiling about it! I’m already nervous about increasing the running times, but a lot more seems possible when you have lovely people around you, so this donkey will be back next Saturday to see what our group can achieve.
*Ben is amazing, but I have absolutely no intention to be running even one marathon in 4 years time, let alone 401 consecutive ones.