So class, when is a runner not a runner? Discuss.
This is a conversation I have with Aimee quite a lot. She says, quite rightly, that anyone who isn’t walking is running. There are no rules, it’s not cheating to walk part of the way and there is no such thing as the fitness police to tell you off.
But I still can’t convince myself that I am a runner. I’m training regularly now, I’m hitting the 4k mark without needing to stop and walk but I still don’t feel as though I’ve earned my place on that mythical podium with the other Lycra-clad joggers.
Up until now, all my training has been on the treadmill so maybe if I jog outside, it will feel like proper running?
Husband is a frequent jogger so he very kindly offers to come with me on my first foray outdoors. And the first thing I notice is – in his words – the “gentle slope”. It doesn’t look gentle. It looks like a whacking great hill.
And that’s my problem with running outdoors. In Sheffield, you live on a permanent semi-horizontal tilt. Hills look daunting and bloody hard work and then there’s ice, and crappy patched-up pavements and dog poo to negotiate.
My second issue with running outside is all of a sudden I have to think about what to wear. Do I wear a bodywarmer, fleece or thin jacket? What about a hat and gloves? Do I carry a water bottle? If I felt self-conscious at the gym, I feel even more so chugging along a road with a steady stream of motorists.
And finally, where do you wee?? Ok, so I can quite comfortably run 4k without needing the loo but that’s because I have the reassurance of the gym toilet. What do I do if I get caught short while running outdoors?!
With all these thoughts whirling around, we set off. And it’s really tough. I knew it would be simply because of the hills and the weather but I’m struggling. I manage to do 4k but it hasn’t been enjoyable.
I miss my flat treadmill and the warmth of the gym and I miss being able to see how far, how fast and how long I’ve run. If I never ran outdoors again, and only ever ran on a treadmill, would that mean I’m not a proper runner? Answers on a postcard please (or leave me a comment below….)