Running and Happiness

One of the best things I've ever done was to take up running and like a lot of things in my life it was a complete accident. My wife Lena volunteered to run the London 10k in March and I said that I would train with her to keep her company, but I wasn't sure I would be able to finish the 10k and places were scarce, so I was just a training partner. She was running for, a charity dedicated to helping sufferers of cluster headaches, which includes her Father, my Father in law. It's a horrible complaint which gives people pains in the head which rank as being some of the most painful experiences known to humans. Sufferers can have up to 10 attacks a day and it completely dominates and impoverishes their lives. So we were happy to help. I had tried running once before a couple of years earlier with a neighbour. Like a couple of macho men we went out and ran until we were completely knackered about 3 times a week. After about 6 weeks I had real problems running because of a pain in the hip, so I was forced to stop. Running for the 10k meant we had a bit more of a plan, the BUPA 10k plan in fact. It seems like the best way to run is to start gradually and build up! Why hadn't I thought of that? I felt a bit daft at first running very little and doing quite a bit of walking, but it was very reassuring to have a plan to stick to. If I was walking it was because the plan had told me to - and anybody sniggering could go to hell! Mind you, even the gentle start of the BUPA plan was tough enough, especially on my legs. I always thought it would be my heart and lungs that gave out, but it seems like it's always the legs that cause the problems, they are just too fragile and need quite a few weeks of toughening up before you can start to run longer distances. After 8 weeks though, I ran for 30 minutes without stopping! Wow! I could hard believe I'd done it. I could hardly breathe either, and walking upstairs was extremely difficult! I was pretty damned pleased with myself and thought I could ease up on the training, but then some of the designated ouch runners dropped out - and I got roped in. So instead of a bit of helpful company, I was going to have to run twice the distance that had nealry killed me! Ouch! Still, the programme was there. It told me what to do and when, if I stuck by it I would be running 10k by the designated date. As I ran farther and longer, I noticed my body cahnging a bit. Not dramatically, but over time I needed the next hole in on my belt. My digestive system was working a lot more efficiently (I'll spare you the details) and I was sleeping better. I used to regularly wake up at 4.30am and not be able to get back to sleep for 3 hours - well, until it was time to get up, and then I could get back to sleep no problem! But since I have been running for 30 or 40 minutes 3 times a week I've maybe had 3 nights where I haven't slept really well. Which is basically enough on it's own to keep me running. I've also got more energy, I'm up first in the mornings and raring to go instead of rolling over and hoping for an extra 5 minutes sleep. I finished the 10k in 68 minutes, which is pretty slow, but at least I did it. I've kept going too and I'm now running 30 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 40 minutes on Sunday - which is my next job. Despite the grim looking weather. ah well, it'll be fine once I get moving! It's actually really nice in bad weather, once you've been running for 10 minutes you are nice and warm and it's very peaceful out there in the wind and the rain with nobody around but you. I can't recommend it enough!

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