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IMG_0606Running is so love or hate, it seems to really divide people, even though it seems such a natural thing to do.

Personally, I love running. This is not to say I am brilliant at it. I am the first to define myself as a very average runner. I’m probably never gonna win any races. I am also well aware that I look pretty funny when I run. I just do this thing with my heel… Lets just say it’s not an effortless glide. And yet, I still love to stick on my trainers and head out the door, with Rosie quite literally nipping at my heels.

I feel that my current relationship with running is a very healthy one. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case.

Throughout school I was always pretty active. Being outdoors was my favourite thing and I realised the challenges and buzz that exercise gave me. Whenever I though about ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’, all I thought of being an adventurer and an explorer. An ambition that was swiftly quashed as a childish day dream by a careers advisor, which it totally isn’t by the way. Her alternative suggestion- an art therapist. Yeah not for me thanks (not knocking all the art therapists out there, it’s just not for me).

I’m definitely not saying that my change in attitude was her fault, but it just seems like a defining moment, having my future hopes ridiculed my someone who was supposed to be helping me achieve them. I mean, I could understand if I told her all I wanted was to be a crackhead, a member of the KKK, or, well you get the gist. I totally changed and looking back, I really wasn’t myself.

I became an indoors person, fixed on a new goal of going to art college in London, picturing myself as a city slicker (never happened, there is way too much of the countryside in me). I stopped pretty much all exercise and barely ventured outside.

After a summer of burgers and beers, I rocked up at art college somewhat, lets say doughier than I had ever been before.

So I started to run again. It wasn’t a nice kind of running at all. It was about distances and speed with my only goal being to get into shape. I would obsessively push myself, often on a treadmill so I could accurately assess progress, mentally beating myself up if I skipped a run. Was I enjoying it? Was I hell.

After pavement pounding, tedious treadmill sessions, skipping stretching, continuously pushing myself too hard, I developed crippling stress fractures (shin splints), literally crippling,writhing on the floor, downing painkillers, couldn’t walk kinda pain, and all for what? Obviously, this had to stop.

After doctors appointment followed doctors appointment, shin x-ray followed by hip x-ray, bio-mechanics specialist followed by followed by etc. I was told I would never be able to run again. And it all fell in to place. At 18, being told I couldn’t do something seemed to be the best form of motivation, you simply find away that you can.

And that is exactly what I did. Its still an imperfect work in progress (what isn’t). I still get painful shins or a small fire in my achilles from time to time, but I can run.

Things that have helped me:

1)Sounds totally lame but self belief. Believing you can, even if you can’t right now.

2) Find the way that works for you. For my, it’s trails.

3)Doing it for the love of it. I currently have no idea how far I am running. Or how fast. Or how many times a week. I plan on keeping it that way and heading out when the mood strikes, which seems to be more and more frequently.

4)Listen to your body. You know whats a good ‘getting stronger’ hurt and what isn’t. Slowing down, cutting it short or walking isn’t quitting, its just smart.

5)You may have guessed it, but there’s nothing better than running with Rosie, even if it does mean tooth marks in the ankles.