Updated: Apr 18
incredible to think that only five years ago I hated running. Now I’ve just completed my first half marathon at the Great North Run.
I’m not going to lie, when the email came through to say I’d got a place I felt a bit queasy. I chastised myself for entering in the first place and seriously considered not telling anyone about it. If no-one knew, I could just forget all about it, right?
Then I saw other people talking about it, lots of people from Jog Derbyshire Chesterfield had got a spot and suddenly it felt that little bit more achievable. I was part of something, I wasn’t on my own.
But it was still a rather overwhelming thought. The furthest I’d ever run before this point before was 10k. The idea of running twice that distance was crazy.
My running journey
The whole thing got me thinking of how much things have changed over those five years. Until I began working for Jog Derbyshire, I’d only had a flitting experience with running.
I’ve thought ‘I can’t do that’ many, many times since then. I didn’t think I could run 5k, then I didn’t think I could run 10k, then I didn’t think I could run any faster. You get the picture.
I’d sort of muddled my way through those steps without really thinking too much about it. I’ve never been particularly bothered about how far I’m running or how fast.
Catching the events bug
It all changed when a friend talked me into doing the Chesterfield 10k last year. I’d never really understood the lure of races before then. I watched other people do them, shared good luck messages and congratulated them. But I didn’t get it.
I took a lot of things away from that day in Chesterfield. A real personal sense of achievement to start with. Despite insisting I wasn’t aiming for a particular time, I was really quite chuffed with how I did. It was an opportunity to push myself a bit more than I usually would.
I also finally understood the importance of support, with other members of the jog group lining the route as well as my parents, husband and children cheering me on at various spots. Being greeted at the end by my mum, who acted like I’d just won an Olympic Gold, is a memory that still makes me smile.
And there was just such a feeling of togetherness. Doing it with friends and having that shared experience to talk over but also the buzz of running along with so many people.
Pushing the boundaries
So there began my race journey. A few more 10ks followed, with varying times and experiences. Then I returned from one particularly mood boosting 10k feeling like I could have kept going, and there went my entry into the Great North Run ballot.
The run up to a half marathon gave me a bit of a different purpose to before.
Suddenly things that I’d never paid that much attention to mattered a bit more.
The old trainers I’d grabbed at random off the shelf of a high street sports shop at the start of my running journey five years ago were replaced with excellent advice from our friends at Run Forest Run Shop in Matlock (with the bonus of a 10% discount for Jog Derbyshire members). Hydration and energy suddenly became more important and I worked out a (very) rough training plan.
Getting ready for the Great North Run
Those few months of training had highs and lows. Days where I felt like I could achieve anything interspersed with wondering what on earth I was doing and hating every second.
What I love about being part of a Jog Derbyshire group though, is even if you’ve been out running on your own, there’s always someone to swap stories with afterwards. On the days I’d struggled there would be reassuring words, well done messages on Strava or someone feeling exactly the same way I did to make me feel less alone.
As the Great North Run grew closer I actually began to feel excited. Plans were made, the car was packed up and off up North I went.
Bringing people together
With a few of us from Jog Derbyshire Chesterfield making the journey, a meeting spot for afterwards was arranged. But among the thousands of people, of course it was the queue for the loos beforehand where we bumped into each other.
A wave goodbye and shouts of good luck and off I went on the rather long stroll to find my starting spot.
Of course, this year the Great North Run had coincided with the sad death of the Queen and never had togetherness felt so strong as it did in the hour leading up to the start. The transition from 60,000 excited people chatting and laughing to falling silent in the minute’s silence was quite an emotional moment.
What I also had the time to do during the waiting time was to really take in just how many people were running in memory of someone, or for charities clearly close to their heart. So many different causes but all coming together in solidarity.
An event for everyone
Most of the race actually feels like a bit of a blur now. From the first three miles which seemed to fly by to the last mile, which despite the glorious first glimpse of the sea, went on forever.
There were so many things that pushed me on. From the kids holding out their hands for a high five or offering ice pops to the surprising number of people who spotted Chesterfield on the back of my top and gave me a shout of encouragement as they zoomed past me.
Another thing that struck me as I plodded my way along the route, was what a brilliantly diverse array of people were taking part. From the elite runners starting the race, to people walking and stopping for a chat and photo with friends and relatives along the route. For an event that I’d always thought was way out of my capabilities turned out to be something for everyone.
The next chapter
I may have thrown myself down on the grass alongside the others from Jog Derbyshire Chesterfield afterwards and announced, I’m never doing that again. But just a few days later I was agreeing to my next half only the following month.
A big shout out needs to go to everyone in the group who’s answered my silly questions, given advice, supported, congratulated and pushed me along the way.
And also to the team at Jog Derbyshire HQ, because without having been introduced to this world through working here I would have missed out on so much.
Five years ago I hated running. Now I love it.
If you’d like to join us at Jog Derbyshire Chesterfield you can find out more about the group here.