I started running last year, when I was on holiday in New York.
I was watching the cool, athletic-types running towards Central Park, and thinking it looked fun, I bought a pair of trainers and followed them. The first excursion was chastening. I couldn’t run for more than 60 seconds straight, I could hardly breathe, and I felt a little ridiculous.
Not only that, I’d also been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year before, a chronic condition that meant that constant blood testing, unexpected weight gain and insulin injections had become an uninvited addition to my life. Running was exactly what I needed to do to get in control of my own body again, but it would be a challenge.
I stuck with it, using the NHS Couch to 5k app, and one year on, running has become a happy constant in my life. I’m still not very good at it, but with a mantra of ‘progression not perfection’, I completed my first 10k this spring.
My goal now, after wobbling my way along to this point, is to become a strong and confident runner. I can run 10k and more, but I get there with grit and willpower, rather than perfect form and control. Reducing average pace times, and building my physical robustness are my next goals.
The New Balance ambassador and personal trainer, Richie Norton was drafted in to coach me on my targets, and we met up this week to talk about becoming stronger and fitter.
Richie was sure that by introducing cross training to my schedule, I would see the results I wanted to become resilient and faster across longer distances and as we spoke, it quickly became apparent that I was being held back by my lack of core strength. My internal strength took a serious dive after my six-year old was born, leaving my mid-section crumpling as the miles clock up.
We started by talking through the glucose-testing process I use ahead of every training session. Being Type 1 has never stopped me from doing anything, but it does mean I have to be careful about how much carbohydrate I eat, and how much insulin I take around training. He then assessed my weight, fat composition, strength, mobility, flexibility and diet, before taking me through the exercises I’d need to get me through my first week of training. That first session was seriously hard work but satisfyingly so, and I could see that if I stuck with it, I could make the progress I wanted.
I’m just a few days in to the programme now. As well as my usual running schedule, I’ve got a daily routine of exercises that include squats, lunges… and the dreaded plank. There’s also emphasis on stretching and using a foam roller to help recovery, much needed as my muscles wake up to the new activity.
The biggest challenge this week has been medication: as I become more active, I need to use less insulin, and there have been a couple of moments when that’s caught me off guard. That said, even though I’m at the very start, I can feel myself become stronger and more robust, and I’m genuinely excited for the weeks ahead.