Running, and exercise more generally, has meant different things to me over the years. When I was younger, it was something to be afraid of, something I couldn't do, something where people left me behind and I felt puffed out and embarrassed.
When I started running in my twenties, it became something I wanted to do, and enjoyed while I was actually doing it, but was always reluctant to go out and get started. I often abandoned it for long stretches, lost the small amount of fitness I'd gained, and became disheartened about starting again.
I had quite an active life at that point anyway. I didn't have a car, and regularly cycled 10, 15, even 20 miles to get to places I wanted to go. I was never fast, but I always got there in the end (although I did sometimes complain about it).
Later I got more sedentary, and running became something I felt I should do. I still enjoyed it when I did it, but again left long periods between bouts of enthusiasm, and never really built up much fitness. I sometimes entered races, but rarely trained for them, and usually came last.
In my thirties, I started taking things a little more seriously and found myself talked into a marathon. I'm no expert, but a marathon isn't just something you turn up and do on the day with no training. I started running more regularly, and found myself getting a lot fitter quite quickly. It was actually rather enjoyable. After race day though, I abandoned it again and didn't run for months.
At the minute I'm in a period of relative enthusiasm. I've got a few races coming up in the next few weeks, and while I'm hardly going to win any of them, and in fact it's likely that I'll come last, yet again, I'm enjoying the process. One of them is a triathlon, and I'm enjoying the variety of swimming, cycling, running that the training brings.
I've joined a gym - something I've done before, but rarely used. This one, however, is in the building I work in, and it's quite satisfying to finish work for the day and spend half an hour in the gym before walking home.
I think my attitude's changed lately. I've been listening to those little voices in my head, and trying to figure out those unwritten 'rules' that are in there about exercise.
You should be outside, why are you in the gym on a sunny day like this?
Why are you driving somewhere flat to cycle? Stop being pathetic and learn to cycle up the hills!
You're never going to get any better if you don't push harder than this.
You've only run once this week, that's not even worth the bother.
Nobody's tracking my exercise, other than me. Right now I'd much rather do something I enjoy and increase my overall fitness than feel I had to be constantly running and more running, and starting to dread it and avoid it like I have done in the past, and if that means I'm going to be last, yet again, in the half marathon, then so be it. Running is a way to get out into the countryside, see more of the city, listen to a cheery podcast, and yes, sometimes unwind in the gym at the end of the day.
And it's a bonus if you sometimes get a free t shirt or a medal at the end of a race.
No running for me today though! I need a rest after yesterday's Parkrun efforts. The sun's shining, and I want to get something done in the house that will inch us towards our move. Watch this space...