My name is Yvie Johnson, I am a 35-year old mother-of-3 in Denbigh (North Wales), a former police officer, illustrator, self-unemployed creative business owner, multi-discipline athlete and multipotentialite. And I run a lot.
First impressions can be confusing. You see running was never my forte; it was my younger sister’s, seeing as she was the school star athlete when two years below my age group. I resigned myself to being classified as sporty, but most definitely not a runner.
I briefly entertained running when I was nearing 17 years old and had the idea that I wanted to join the British Army. So I just started to run, after school or before school, and shed over a stone in the process without actually paying attention to what I was doing or how I had managed it. I was simply focused on being strong enough for the physical tests. I was, even giving some of the men on my course a run for their money, but I changed my mind about the Army and quit running altogether as it no longer served a purpose.
Looking back, there were signs of something going on with my mental health at this point, but emotional teenagers who want to drastically change their minds, sleep a lot and eat junk food, who would say anything other than that’s normal?
Fast forward to post-baby number two and I had the idea that I wanted to join the North Wales Police force. By that time though, I was living in Germany. I started to run again, tentatively this time, beginning with just ten minutes at-a-time as my lungs couldn’t manage anything more, and then started to swim, and roller blade, then either roller blade or run to the swimming pool.
Soon enough, the once size 14-16, weighing in at 11st 7 girl had dropped down to 9st and a size 8, with two babies in tow, and nothing more complicated on the menu than eating vegetables, salad and fruit, avoiding junk food (except some chocolate), not drinking alcohol, and running about 10-20 minutes per day with some press ups and sit ups thrown in. It’s not surprising that carrying babies and house chores are quite an exercise regimen!
My running slowly built up to measuring in kilometers instead of minutes, and by the time I’d returned to the UK and joined the police, I was confident at running 5km and indeed classified myself as a runner. What I began to notice over the years was that by joining a club (Wrecsam Tri Club) and training with other people to glean experience and a sense of community, as well as setting myself events to train for, my goal posts began to move further and further away from where I’d began.
Each new goal was a distance I’d never covered before, and so came with all the same mixed emotions and fears and confidence issues as the very first 5km I ran, but I found that as long as I employed the same running strategy, with some tweaks, I was able to reach that next goal and bring home the bling.
From that point on, of taking up running again aged 23 in order to apply for a policing career in another country, running has played a pivotal role in many aspects of my life – keeping me fit enough to pass the rigorous fitness tests for the Armed Response Unit, to qualify for GB at the World Sprint Triathlon Championships in Hamburg, to represent North Wales Police in fell/road/XC running, discovering mountain-marathon running, to take on multi-day stage adventure races, and sprint-to-middle distance triathlons (some with baby number three still being breastfed) and to repeatedly come back from work-related/financial/relationship nervous breakdowns and say that I am going to keep going and I am going to win this battle.
To say I run a lot, is not to say that I always enjoy running – it can be grueling, especially when tackling awful drivers, jumping dogs, sudden hail showers and getting knee, hip or calf pains or even a sudden onset of cramps. I run a lot, because running keeps me going in the direction I want to go in – forward, upwards, healthier, fresher, invigorated, motivated, and much more.
We all have our reasons for wanting to run, and right now, I have a significant reason to: I run to let my mind breathe.