Hi. I’m Lauren. Usually, I’m over at QuintessentiallyQuirky, blogging about anything and everything. Jen suggested I come up with a guest post and, given that I’d just recently signed up for my first running club (organized and led by the lovely Laura of Lazy Girl Running), the timing seemed perfect.
I have a confession.
I like the treadmill.
Actually, that’s only half true.
I love the treadmill.
And here’s another confession.
I don’t like running outside.
Actually, that’s only half true as well.
I hate running outside.
What’s not to love about the treadmill? It’s in a lovely, air-conditioned gym. If the air-con’s not enough, you can turn on your own personal treadmill fan. There are no yappy dogs nipping at your heels. The terrain is always the same. You set your incline – no sudden, unexpected hills. No dips in the path. No dodging around slow-moving pedestrians. No cyclists trying to run you over. You don’t even have to carry your own water bottle because there’s a lovely, super-handy little slot for that.
Compare the not-so-great outdoors. If it’s sunny, you’re sweltering. The parks are over-crowded and it’s less of a run, more a case of dodgems as you try to avoid crashing into anyone else. Oh, and did I mention the yappy dogs?
If it’s raining, it’s even worse. It’s muddy. You’re soaked. You’re not running; you’re just squelching. You don’t look rosy-cheeked and glowing with health; you look like a drowned rat. And the dogs are still there (as you’ve probably guessed, I don’t like dogs).
So, why on earth would a treadmillista like me sign up for a ten-week running club on Hampstead Heath?
|How Lauren would normally approach the Heath, slathered in sunscreen, armed with a bottle of Prosecco.|
Well, much as I love the gym, sometimes I do venture outside to take part in a little race. Nothing major, 10km is the longest distance I’ve attempted. It was a total disaster from start to finish. It didn’t just rain. It chucked it down. It wasn’t a course. It was a quagmire. I got a massive stitch that just would not go away. I was last (no, not out of everyone, just last out of the girls who I was running with). I know that the ethos is supposed to be that it’s the taking part that counts and it doesn’t matter how fast you run, but I’ve never really understood that. Yes, it was nice to be cheered over the finish line by my friends. But it was also sort of embarrassing. They were all there. Ahead of me. Far ahead of me.
|The infamous and very wet 10k run. [ed. note: Lauren's exaggerating a bit. She wasn't that slow!!!]|
Much as I seemed to be okay at running on a treadmill, I clearly didn’t have any skills for running outside. Reason number one to sign up for the group. Reason number two is that I was hoping I might meet some new friends. I’m a bit of a London newbie and much as I love the place, it’s not exactly the friendliest city in the world.
So, having been sent details of the group by Jen, I signed up and, with some trepidation, attended the first class this week.
I was worried.
What if everyone was unfriendly? (It’s London. You quickly get used to people being grumpy and studiously avoiding eye contact with anyone they’re not already friends with).
What if everyone was faster than me? (It was billed as a group for beginners but I figured there could be a lot of British self-deprecation going on. “Me? Oh no, I’ve never even attempted running. Well, apart from the odd half-marathon. And one full marathon. But apart from that, no, I’ve never tried to run.”)
Fortunately, I was proved wrong.
Everyone was friendly. One of my favourite pieces of advice from Laura was that we should run at a pace that still allowed us to carry on a normal conversation (hurrah!). I chatted to some lovely people and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone over the coming weeks.
It really didn’t matter how fast or slow you were. It wasn’t competitive at all and it was only after the session ended that I realized this was what I’d been worrying about the most. I’m so relieved that the group is supportive, rather than competitive.
Has it been a total conversion? Am I going to pack in my gym membership and say goodbye to the treadmill. Well, no (or at least, not right now). But I am going to try my best at this outdoor running lark. Before the first session, Laura mentioned that she would be setting us homework to do between sessions. My initial thinking was that yes, I’d do the homework. At the gym. On the treadmill. Inside.
But I’ve changed my mind. I’ll give it a proper go. This time tomorrow I’ll be embarking on homework training session number one.
On the heath.
Do you run with a group or a club? I dearly miss my SB running club in Cambridge.
What were your first impressions? I was soooo intimidated before going and they turned out to be the loveliest lot out there.