Over the past few years there’s been a bit of a running phenomenon that has swept the nation and with it a plethora of running stories which talk of lives being changed, of people achieving things they never thought possible and of long-lasting friendships made with people they would otherwise have never met.
C2-5k changed my life too, but not because it enabled me to run. I’ve run for most of my life in one guise or another, as a junior I spent my winters grovelling around in mud (mostly on my knees, literally and metaphorically) for Cheshire County and in the summer, gasping my way around the track running 800ms (in very short shorts; some things never change) for Stockport Harriers. Both, at times were fairly horrible experiences to be honest but time is a great healer and a positive mind is a cunning trickster! Fast forward some considerable years, two children and husband no two later and my ‘love’ for all things running was reignited as I realised here was a genuine reason to escape some of the banality associated with child-rearing and running didn’t involve shops or shopping or anything related to being in the vicinity of shops!
Following the birth of my first child I’d been diagnosed with post-natal depression. This dark cloud of never-ending doom enveloped me, making daily life a real struggle for me (and probably those closest to me; I liked to share the misery!) I was prescribed anti-depressants which I duly took and over time the dark cloud blew on by. But it never really blew that far away, the symptoms had been treated but the root cause hadn’t been dealt with.
It was 10 years before it came back to say hello again. Only this time it really meant business. Four years of horribleness followed, it consumed me, my thoughts, my ability to function and came close to breaking me and my family. I was determined not to succumb to the pills this time and knew I needed to talk to someone. This I did, and this person gave me the confidence to throw myself into leading a C2-5k programme for the running club I was a member of.
Almost immediately a light was ignited in me, a flicker of excitement at being involved in something that could help others believe they could do something they didn’t believe possible. I had huge doubts about my ability to lead it and there were times when I wasn’t sure how I would actually leave the house.
The preceding years had battered my confidence and so the battle commenced to keep the negative committee inside my head silenced and to allow the real positive me to see the light of day again.
The response to the programme was ridiculous; ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY PEOPLE ONLY BLOODY WENT AND SIGNED UP! The very first night of the programme, I climbed my step-ladder (yep, I really did take one with me!) I was as anxious as a very anxious person suffering with anxiety, wondering if any words would actually come out when I tried to speak (I needn’t have worried!) I’d written my welcome speech and practised it over and over and over and over and over; to the curtains in my bedroom, to the trees in the garden and to my long-suffering, ‘not listening to a word of it’ children.
So there I stood, megaphone at the ready on my B&Q makeshift pulpit with 200 (yes, two bloody hundred) eyes staring back at me. I delivered my well-rehearsed ‘you WILL learn to love Running’ sermon to a completely silent congregation. It turns out they were as terrified as I was.
And so my journey to finding my happy place truly began. I quite literally found my voice and more importantly my ears (not that they’re difficult to find, but that’s a story for another day!) So much about this C2-5k journey has been about listening to people, hearing their stories and never judging. A common theme has emerged; people lack confidence and there seem to be two main contributing factors: 1) A lack of belief in themselves 2) Depression
C2-5k has been life-changing for me because it’s made me realise that I can add value. It’s given me friendships with many fabulous people and a whole new ‘career’ as a running coach. More importantly it’s shown me that everyone faces their own struggles, a real mixed bag: body image; grief; battling illness; fear of failure; measuring their success against others. But the importance of listening to people and not judging them should never be underestimated.
Here’s to more of the same as I continue on my run coaching journey; it’s has truly been an empowering experience.