Monday, 24 August 2020

How I went from dreading PE to running my first 5k.

*Disclaimer - I wrote this post a year ago and it's been sitting in my drafts. I've just stumbled upon it and was sad i never shared it. So here goes...*

If you had told me, at the age of 15, that one day I'd be running weekly and entering my first ever 5k, I would have laughed in your face...

Well hey 15 year old G, you just ran your first 5k!


Let's take it right back to school. I dreaded PE lessons. Unless it was a sunny game of rounders or the term we did girls football and it turned out I was actually not that awful at it... I was not a fan. The fear of summer rolling round to be told it was time for 'Athletics' and House Cross Country was my worst nightmare. Athletics would see me give my best shot at the 100m race to 1500m race, but ultimately I'd come in the last few people time and time again. Running up to that finish line while the rest of the class sit and watch you is the ultimate confidence boost when you're a hormonal 14 year old, right? All for your time to be written down, never to be addressed again and your teacher to say 'Right, on to Shot Put.' House Cross Country was even worse. The entire school all running the same track and cheering at the finish line, a day my best friend Charlie and I would absolutely dread and think of every excuse under the sun to get out of (however never go through with implementing any excuses because there was no way out. You just had to run it the following week instead. And we were in this together.) We got through it by running down the hills, pointing out random lost shoes and wondering how on earth they got there and singing songs from The Mighty Boosh. We'd run up the final hill approaching the corner of cheering crowds towards the finish line and hope the ground would swallow us up. But then, just like Athletics, we'd finish and the time would be written down and I wouldn't have to think about it until next year.


It wasn't until I started running myself this year, I realised just how damaging those lessons were for my thoughts around exercise. 'I can't run' 'I'm definitely not a runner' became a stock phrase throughout my life because I'd never been taught the importance of TRAINING. Now I will say, I absolutely loved my school and I understand we were young, schools can't adjust to every child's ability and this was a good ten or so years ago now, however training and building up fitness and skill is not a new concept. Why didn't they use each lesson to teach students to strive for a little more than they managed last time? Why weren't they teaching us how to train our bodies? How amazing I would have felt if I started the term unable to run 500m and finished it with a 500m run well within my capabilities? I know for a fact I'd of enjoyed the thought of PE lessons a lot more if I felt like I had achieved something at the end of term, not just a scribbled down time and a whole load of embarrassment. I'd probably attempted going for a run a maximum of 6 times since I left school and every-time felt defeated and to be honest, pretty shit because I just couldn't do it.



Fast forward to this year, after seeing the London Marathon on TV and thinking how incredible crossing the finish line must be, I decided I wanted to enter a run myself. I have no idea why I suddenly felt inspired by the idea, but it felt like something I could do solely for me, my body and my mind and absolutely no one else. I started at the idea of the marathon... then had a big reality check, scaled it back and decided to aim for a 5k (baby steps, Georgia, baby steps). I downloaded the BBC app 'Couch to 5k' that I had seen popping up on Instagram and gave it a go. That first run was hard - run for 1 minute, walk for 90 seconds, 8 times - Embarrassingly, running for 1 minute was tough for me but for the first time ever, having this app playing in my headphones meant I could run for one minute, recover for 90 seconds whilst walking... and the run again! Rather than giving up the moment I felt like dying, I realised I was capable of doing more, but I had to train my body and up my fitness levels to do so. Week one complete, week two was even harder... and unsurprisingly so was week three, four, five... however I GOT FITTER! I could do it. This app show me how to train, how to push myself that little bit further each week. As the runs got longer, I did find it tough and I couldn't always keep up but I went easy on myself, If I needed longer to complete a run before moving onto the next week, then longer I shall have.

I signed up for the 'The Color Run' with my two friends, Emma and Jasmin. I thought I'd start with something fun, I loved the idea of being covered in colours and The Color Run isn't timed, you can complete the run however you'd like. A few nights before the run, I had a big cry about it. I had this looming feeling that I wish I'd never told anybody I was doing it. Knowing that both Em & Jas could run further than me, I felt upset at the thought of crossing the finish line knowing it would just be yet another run I would come last in. (spoiler, I was wrong, the girls didn't leave my side... duh)

I felt better after a sleep and woke up knowing that how I felt when I crossed that finish line, was entirely up to me. I had to remember how bloody far I had come and leave comparison at the starting line. My best run up this point had been 8 minutes solid running, then alternating between running and walking until I hit 4.5k. Run day came, we set off, already covered in paint and I was determined to keep up with the girls - who had assured me there was no way they were running ahead anyway.

WE RAN THAT 5K.

We stuck together, we had a few very short walking stints, but our pace remained the same and then we would power through the pain and start running again. That feeling crossing the line was incredible. I was so proud of myself.


I couldn't have done the run without my sisters by my side. Jasmin was a fellow Couch to 5k gal, also running her first 5k and Emma was an absolute star, she kept us going, kept up the pace and was our best cheerleader throughout. (*Georgia a year later here* Emma and her boyfriend Rory are currently running 5k EVERYDAY(!!!!) in August, it's for such an important cause - if you'd like to support them, please donate here


To anyone looking to challenge themselves or start running, start small and celebrate your progress, you might just surprise yourself! 

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