On a whim I have signed my boyfriend and me up to do Cancer Research’s Tough 10 challenge. Tough 10 is a brand new series of epic 10k runs. There are no obstacles but they take place on some of the UK’s toughest terrain. As we live in York, we’ve picked to do the course at Roundhay Park in Leeds. It’s lucky really as this is one of the easier routes. I’m not trying to shy away from a challenge but this is the first 10k event I’ve ever done; I don’t want to run before I can walk, so to speak.
For the past six years I’ve taken part in the 5k Race for Life. I usually do the York Racecourse one but, due to clashes with holidays, I have completed the course at Herrington Country Park in Sunderland twice. A much harder route, full of hills. I once did Pretty Muddy there as well, which was so much fun but ruins your trainers.
As I’ve roped my boyfriend into doing this with me, he is adamant that we will train for it. He is much fitter than me and can easily run this 10k course without stopping. I have the lungs of a 5-year-old so struggle running any distance without stopping.
We started our training on Wednesday. We’re currently dog/house sitting in Seaton Ross and are surrounded by off track routes and fields; a much better training ground than pavements and treadmills. We grabbed the younger dog, Mille, who sped off with her boundless energy and we followed. But I soon found myself stopping.
I really struggle with my breathing. I try to follow the mantra of breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. But I end up gasping for breath and getting a stitch. If I don’t get my breathing under control, I will never be much of a runner.
As a kid I was sport mad and took part in everything at school: cross country, athletics, netball, hockey, tennis, etc. To be honest I wasn’t brilliant at sports but I was keen, enthusiastic and I really tried. I was good at games like rounders and I was ace at netball. In my last sports day at secondary school I came second in high jump (my best event), beating one of the better girls. I took part in 1500m, 800m and cross country races but I never won. I never came close. I’ve never learnt how to control my breathing. Sometimes I‘d be gasping so hard I’d burst blood vessels in the back of my throat and end up spitting blood. What the hell, right?
Getting older I started dancing and found it easier to control my breath. Then I had knee surgery so avoided exercising for a while as I was scared I’d hurt myself again.
Now I’m back into fitness. I’m a gym member, going three to four times a week. I go to dance class and have started Pilates. And now I’m training for this 10k run. Dating a guy who’s into fitness helps me maintain my own fitness goals. We can keep each other motivated and push each other to be better. Today we’re both hobbling around with serious DOMs after gruelling leg and arm workouts.
I want to get better at running but I’ll never be a runner. Just like I’ll never be a dancer again. Getting old sucks. Not being sporty and able to do the things I used to do sucks. The trick is to find new loves and not getting stuck in a rut. I can still strut my stuff on the dance floor and I am becoming stronger than I have ever been thanks to my gym workouts. So that’s something I guess. My advice? Keep going.