I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been helping to lead a Learn to Run group this year. It’s a course organised by my running club and, during the winter I trained with England Athletics as a Leader in Running Fitness. We first went out on a cold night 10 or so weeks ago doing 4 sets of 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking. I am sure many would be prepared to admit that on that first night it was a struggle. By the end of the fourth set the countdown to the finish was a vital motivational tool. Last Saturday the group ran parkrun, everyone got round, many ran for more than half an hour without stopping, a few even managed a respectable sub 30. I am immensely proud of all of them and they are all more capable runners than they were on that first night. It’s not a question of opinion, it’s not a judgement call, it is a fact.
We had a celebratory drink on the Sunday night and I got talking with one of the new graduates about what they had got out of the course. Without any prompting they declared that taking up running had changed their life. I agree with this completely, I have said it before and I would be happy to say it to anyone, my life has changed so much and is now so much better since I started to run. It’s not simply a question of being fitter, though that is obviously true, I am slimmer and can go further without getting breathless etc… there are other gains made as well and it is the numbers that have helped with that.
At one time I valued myself by my creative ability. The problem with this is that what one person considers creative another may consider a sack of kak. I spent a considerable amount of time making music, ( some of my latest creations can be found here https://soundcloud.com/drbolus ) and never really got a lot of positive feedback from those close to me. Over time what I thought of as a possible career in recording and music kind of evaporated and it became a hobby. Even qualifications and experience in professional studios didn’t inspire me with confidence. Lack of interest turned a creative outlet into something to keep me quiet while other more important things went on. Maybe if I had been more confident of my own abilities I might have had that musical career, I guess we will never know. Anyway, to get back to my life changing running, one of the real added extras that running has given me and others is confidence.
When I started out I had no way of knowing that I could succeed. I didn’t know I would be able to do it, or get better at doing it. Perhaps if the measure of success had been style, or grace, or any subjective criteria it might have vanished the way of so many other enterprises. Unable to gauge my ability I would have relied upon the judgement of others perhaps slipping back into a comfortable mediocrity. Running gives you some very objective criteria of success. If you can run further now than you could last year there is nothing subjective about that. You have succeeded. If you can run faster now than you could last year, you have succeeded. Both of these questions I can answer yes to, and it does not matter what anyone’s opinion is, by those objective criteria I have achieved. That is an amazing confidence booster. My Learn to Run group have succeeded, they are objectively better at running now than they were 10 weeks ago and, on those grounds they should be more confident that they can get shit done.
Hopefully that confidence will spill out into other areas of life for some of them as it has for me. Before I started running I would not have written a blog, I would have been scared of failing. Now I don’t give a fuck. If I am a shit writer it does not matter, because objectively speaking I can run a sub 4 marathon and I can train to get faster. I have confidence in my own abilities. I would not have written any stories, but once again if you don’t like them what does it matter, I will run a sub 45 10k before the end of the summer, I have confidence! More than any of that, I have confidence that actually if I try to do things I can succeed. I have also discovered that out there on the T’interwebs there are people who can relate to the kind of literary bollocks I produce and all it took to discover this was the confidence to try it out, and the perseverance to just keep going.