Karen Kills the Great South Run

Karen send me this message a week or so ago. We have all felt like Karen, and it is just so liberating when you finally find something you can do exercise-wise that is entirely independent of classes, memberships, kit and other people. This is what she shared:

I’ve never been particularly sporty although I’ve tried to keep myself reasonably fit over the years through various means – aerobics classes, gym memberships, Zumba – tried them all. I’ve often looked at people out running and thought “that looks really liberating” but never really imagined that it could apply to me. I was convinced that I would be the red faced sweaty one, puffing and panting my way around and not really enjoying it. In January this year – clichéd I know – I had another look at a fitness regime. I didn’t want to join a gym as I can’t really afford the time or money and I hate the gym guilt you get when you don’t really make the most of it. I thought again about running and decided to give it a try but didn’t know where to start. After a quick trawl of Amazon, I came across Run Fat Bitch, Run and the title really made me laugh. I read it really quickly and couldn’t wait to get started. I particularly like the fact that Ruth doesn’t advocate going out and spending a load of money on fancy kit straight away. I was already reasonably fit and walk a lot with my dog, so I was immediately able to run for ten to fifteen minutes at a time which really surprised me. Sure, my legs ached a bit afterwards but I got a real sense of achievement from it. Before long I could run 3 miles and treated myself to some proper running shoes. I did add some other bits of kit along the way but nothing too expensive or flashy.

Now I know myself pretty well and I knew that this could easily become another fad so I thought I needed to do something to keep me motivated. Around March/April I decided to enter the Great South Run – a 10 mile run around Portsmouth in October. I signed up to run for a worthwhile charity and duly set up a sponsorship page online. Then, typically, I started getting real problems with my legs. A quick trip to a physiotherapist gave me a diagnosis of shin splints and an instruction not to run for 2 weeks. Two became three when I developed a chest infection (and I thought exercise was good for you!) and my motivation was pretty low. However, people had started to sponsor me and that gave me the impetus to get back out there. I decided only to run a maximum of three times a week (instead of the five I had been) and to try to fit in some longer runs when I could.

I ran all through the summer. I ran on holiday in Scotland (with hills!). I ran on holiday in Cyprus (with heat!). And today, at the age of 43, I ran the Great South Run in 1 hr 31 mins and 40 seconds.

Some runs are better than others. Some days everything feels right, others it just feels wrong but I always feel better after a run and today, after running 10 miles, I feel bloody marvellous!!

Karen Astill

The Grit Doctor says: Well done for finishing what you started.


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