First of all, I see myself as a runner. Running is what I love. But in the last four years I’ve moved house, job and country three times; I’ve worked day and night as a marketing director, a chalet host and a freelance copywriter (sometimes all at once!); I’ve trained and qualified as a fitness instructor, and I’m just on the cusp of launching my very first fitness class. I’ve also gone through a divorce, had a baby, and got engaged to be married.
With all this going on, sticking to a running programme has been tricky to say the least. Every new place, every new job and now every new phase of parenthood has provided a new set of reasons why it’s hard to go running; why today is not the right day or now is not the right time to start.
Loving running was no longer a good enough reason for me to get out and do it. Regular running just wasn’t going to happen until I found myself something really compelling to run for, and broke free of the cycle of lapsed training programmes that were damaging my self-belief. What I needed was a carrot and a stick.
The carrot was the easy bit: I went out and signed up for a big programme of races in 2015. Together, my fiancé and I are looking forward to our first Alpine marathon; our first Ultra since 2010; our first ever Triathlon, and a couple of 20+ milers in the Lake District to keep things interesting. The prospect of all that, along with a couple of brilliantly invigorating Scottish Hill Racing outings in November and a commitment to raise money for the local Children’s Hospital, got me feeling excited about running again. But those race-goals still felt big and far away; time was tight; days were long … I still needed a stick to get me out and into a regular training programme.
Advent Running was exactly the right kind of stick, and it came at exactly the right time. Such a simple concept: run 30 minutes a day, as far and as fast as you like, every day of Advent from 1-25 December. For three very good reasons, it was just what I needed:
It felt achievable: 30 minutes a day is do-able, even on the busiest day. The rules were simple enough that could be sure of succeeding, with just a little bit of willpower. And by managing to shoe-horn that time into every day for 25 days straight, I made myself a prototype: I discovered how regular training could fit into my working week, and reminded myself just how great it feels to be out regularly, running.
It was sociable: from being a highly socialised runner who ran with clubs, with friends and with my partner, my big house moves, long working hours and childcare commitments had changed all that and I’d gradually done more and more of my running alone. Through committing to advent running, my fiancé and I began to run together again for the first time in over a year – taking turns pushing the buggy! – and with the added bonus of a fantastic online community of friendly runners from all around the world to spur us on. We even organised a couple of social runs up here in Glasgow, where we managed to meet up with other advent runners and Marcothoners face to face!
Last but not least, it was an inspiration. It’s been incredible to see how much Claudia and James have accomplished with the Advent Running concept, and how quickly they have done it. Amazing work, and a fantastic example of what two people can do with the right mix of imagination, determination and commitment. Getting my trainers on and running a few miles every day felt like the least I could expect of myself, in view of what they have managed to do.
For me, from here, the next stage of the challenge clear. The carrot is still there – the 2015 race programme is looming closer! – and all I need to do is to harness the momentum that Advent Running has given me, and turn it into a training programme that will take me all the way to the Kintyre Way 35-miler and the Keswick Mountain Festival Short Triathlon in May and the Mont Blanc Marathon in June. Feeling confident? YES! So now’s the time to catch my breath, get the next part of the programme in place and keep going.