Spring is in the air. The overwhelming desire to stay in bed is lessening. As blossom starts to bloom on the trees and grey skies give way to blue everything feels just that little more positive. A far better time to strive for self-improvement than the beginning of the year (unless the aspiration is to spend as much time as possible wrapped in a duvet in front of trash TV).
The long duvet-cocooned nights of winter have not done my body any favours. Although, to be fair, they’ve done less damage than having four children.
‘Mummy, why does your belly always look like it’s got a baby in it?’ Boo asked the other day.
The fitness DVDs I’ve been doing since January clearly aren’t working. But then I probably average an attempt once a fortnight.
But the zing of spring has affected my soul. I felt the urge to run.
Except I’m very much NOT a runner. My soul says I can do it. Get into a nice rhythm and go. But my body is weak. Pounding the pavement soon starts to jar. My legs feel heavy. I don’t like feeling out of breath. My mind kicks in, arguing with my spirit, debating why this is a very bad idea, negotiating better deals.
I get the endorphin hit once I’ve finished. But why do they always come afterwards, not during? I can only think they’re the body’s way to thank you for stopping.
But the consensus is that running’s the best way to lose the stubborn pounds. My friends who jog are the skinny ones. Plus it’s free and I can take Noodles with me.
So I dusted off the running shoes I bought last summer when I did the Race for Life…which I ended up walking, all be it carrying Boo on my back on one of the hottest days of the year. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Of course, under different circumstances I could have run (some of) it.
Week 1: walk 3 minutes, run 1 minute, 4 times
Ah, ease myself in gently. How hard can 1 minute be?
It takes just 45 seconds of jogging before I’m checking the stopwatch.
Plus it doesn’t take me long to realise that I have to plan my route very carefully. The instinctive option is to trek around the park. It’s not massive, but it’s close by and it’s flat and sheltered.
Unfortunately it’s also got the playground. As soon as we venture anywhere in the vague direction of the swings Noodles clamours to head in their direction. Nowhere in the running handbook does it say ‘walk 3 minutes, run 1 minute, play 45 minutes. Repeat 4 times.’ So the park is out of bounds, at least until my last rep. (Pushing a toddler in the swings has got to be good for busting the bingo wings, surely?).
Other off-limit directions are past the train station, the supermarket or the off licence. Even if I looked like Jessica Ennis, making a mid-run pit-stop at the offie would not be a good look. Go past without stopping though (for chocolate only – honest!) and Noodles starts to flail as if his life depended on it. The overall look is less yummy-mummy-out-on-a-run than thinly-disguised-kidnap-attempt. This restricts things quite a lot.
It turns out that he enjoys being wheeled around the war memorial gardens. This is good as it means I get my jog on without him thrashing in his buggy. But I look like a loon jogging around the little paths and tight corners. Plus to get there I have to run alongside the main through road through town. My mind kicks in: what must they think of you, with your red sweaty face, big wobbly bottom and clearly only putting in minimal effort.
I try to get my spirit to flick v-signs at my mind.
I’ve discovered two other bonuses of my new route:
1) If I head from the war memorial down to the river, the quay is a rather gorgeous finish line (although it takes all my resolve not to trash the limited calories I’ve just burned off with a stop at the café with the delicious cakes as I stroll past on my way home).
2) I don’t see a single other jogger, despite the sunshine and that it’s only 7 weeks until the town’s 10k. Clearly they’re all in the park. Good. Rather than feeling a sense of commraderie when I see others run, I feel as though I’m doing a poor imitation of them (which, to be fair, I am). Plus they never look as though they’re enjoying themselves. I don’t want to be put off with the thought that getting better at this isn’t synonymous with it getting easier.
I’ve completed my first week. I’m disappointed that my muffin top hasn’t instantly vanished. Still, I’m pleased that the spirit has overruled the mind and body. But then, it has been a lightweight start. And the sun has been shining. Long may it last. I think the mind may get the upper hand on a miserable, wet day. For now though I shall make hay whilst the sun shines and hope I can silence my mind and body before it gets tricky.