I have been running now for about 4 years. I was at a very low point in my life, I’d put on a lot of weight, I wasn’t very happy and so I knew I had to do something about it.
I signed myself up to the Race for Life 5k and downloaded a sofa to 5k app. I hadn’t run for years and it was extremely hard starting from scratch. I went out on my own and prayed that no one would see me as I puffed and panted my way down the cycle path near my house. However, with the support of my husband I kept at it and eventually, albeit not in the 9 weeks allocated, I completed the 5k run.
Always one to push myself, I signed up for a 10k run and trained in the same run/walk way to increase my distance. Time on my feet was key. But once I had completed the 10k I lost a bit of motivation, so I decided to join a social running club. The people there kept me on track. They were supportive and not at all critical of my slow speed. They helped me to focus on the enjoyment of running and this has been paramount for me.
I’ve now been running for 4 years and I find more and more that runners (and some non-runners) are obsessed with speed and time. The first question facing many race finishers by others is “What time did you do?” and I find this practice very upsetting and sometimes disheartening. I am not built for speed but this does not mean that my 5k time compared to someone else’s 5k (who may be substantially quicker) does not mean that the same amount of effort has not been exerted. I am more of a longer distance kind of girl anyway 😉.
Saying that however, the best part of the running community is the people. The friendships, the support and the enthusiasm is immense, and this is the reason I take part. That is why I believe that by being friendly and encouraging we’re able to entice more people into the sport. Especially beginners, who need to feel welcome in any group or club, and not feel as they are a burden to everyone else. As a sport, we need to ensure that we support and celebrate every achievement, no matter how small we may feel they are. Trust me, to the person who’s run their first 10 mins without stopping, or achieved their first 5k, half marathon or marathon regardless of time it took, it’s a massive achievement and should be celebrated as such.
So let’s all be as encouraging as possible. Let’s celebrate finish lines not finish times and remember – it’s the taking part that counts.
Sport has its place within our communities, but so does participation for all.