Friends who've known me for years are often bemused by the fact that I've taken up running. After all, they knew me when I was a plumpish couch potato with a penchant for reality tv, harry potter, ice cream and daydreaming. So I often get asked why I do it, and how I got started.
Its a tricky question to answer. But I think I have four main reasons. The first is that I have found, quite by accident, that running helps to quell the rising anxieties I have battled since we moved to Perth from Sydney three years ago. The second is that I have discovered that running is, surprise suprise, a child free activity which is rare occurrence in itself, but also one that has my husband's full blessing and support. The third is that I find setting myself goals, working towards them and ultimately achieving them (like running my first 10km, 12km etc) makes a massive difference to my self esteem, perceptions of what I am capable of, my health and weight, and ultimately my happiness levels.
But perhaps the most powerful reason that I have learned to love running is that I have learned that I am fallible, and that I will not last forever. My husband was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, but is thankfully now fully recovered. My dear friend Marion was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, and sadly she passed away a few months later. And another long-standing friend who lives overseas is currently doing a spectacularly brave battle with ovarian cancer. As I stand by helplessly and watch these three dearly loved warriors fight for their lives, and hear stories about many others, I realise that the one thing that cancer patients all long for is the one thing I take daily for granted: a healthy body. And to use it, enjoy it, test it and push its limits is a truly privilege and an honour, and a temporary one at that. So when I run, I think about the joy that comes from running on behalf of the loved ones who can't join me. And I think about the fact that one day I might not be able to run either, but at least I can look back at myself and say, hey, I did well there. I tried and persevered and succeeded. And ultimately, I run because I can.