5th July 2017
On 12 July 2015, along with four other members of the Campuslife team, I completed my first ever 10k run. Up until a few months before, the most I had ran was if I was late for a bus (and I don’t take buses very often). This was a whole new experience for me but it kick-started a new healthier and more active chapter in my life.
I can still remember the discussion in the office about the idea of a Campuslife taking part in the Leeds 10k. Exercise and general fitness was never something I was that into. But, getting older, it seemed like a good idea so I signed up.
Shortly after, I bought my first ever pair of running trainers. The first time I took them out for a spin was whilst we were in Blackpool on a shoot. I remember feeling like everyone was staring at me as I walked through the lobby of the hotel we were staying in, wearing my clean shiny trainers and running gear (just shorts and t-shirt, haven’t quite made it to the skin-tight lycra yet). But I tried to play it cool and pretend like I’d been running like this for years. I don’t think anyone caught on.
My first run was just over 2k, up and down the promenade a few times. It felt pretty good. I had my headphones in my ears and the sea breeze on my face. Very refreshing!
Over the next few months I tried to run more and more. I signed up to my local park run, which was a good taster of what it’s like to run with a load of other people. I’d run in the evenings after work. I’d run when we were staying over in various cities when we were out filming. I’d even sometimes run in the mornings.
It was a good way to explore places. I liked running off and getting a little bit lost, then trying to find a different route home. I’ve got a terrible sense of direction so I often ran quite a bit further than I intended to just because I couldn’t find my way backl!
My times started to improve quite quickly. I was so impressed with myself. Having never really stuck at any sport, I was starting to get into it.
Then I kind of plateaued. It got harder and harder to grind down my times, but I was still improving. By this point I’d still not run 10k though. The park runs were 5k, so I was OK with that. Then I’d pushed myself to do 6k, then 8k. But never 10k.
It was a week before the Leeds 10k and I decided that I should see if I could actually make the distance. My target time was under 60 minutes. It felt like a good target to aim for but I had no idea if I could run 10k, yet alone make the time! So I hit the local park and started doing a few laps. It was tough. I wasn’t used to running for so long. Thankfully, by this time, I’d put together a pretty good running playlist, very motivational, which kept me going. Eastwood (our superstar editor at Campuslife) once told me that running with music makes him 20% faster and I bet he’s right (incidentally, my response to that information was to ask if it was possible to run with five sets of headphones on - it’s not).
I managed the distance. I’d made it 10k! But in just over an hour.
It’s OK, I thought. I’ll save it for the big day, the Leeds 10k.
The night before the race I stayed with Tom (our Marketing Director) as we were going to travel to the race together. We had a big pasta meal (good race food, apparently) and rested our joints in Tom’s hot tub. The morning of the race we made sure we ate breakfast in plenty of time before the start, drank lots of water, and took bananas as a little pre-race snack. Turns out Google is a pretty useful resource for 10k tips.
The plan was for Tom and me to stick together, keep each other motivated, and push through to the end. We were both aiming for a similar time and it felt like a good way to get through it. Secretly I imagined sprinting for the finish line in the last few hundred meters and leaving him behind! But when the race started we weren’t prepared for the huge amount of people that were running. I lost sight of Tom almost instantly. I wasn’t sure if he was in front of me, or behind me. So I just kept running.
52 minutes and 23 seconds later I reached the finish line.
I couldn’t believe it. This was only the second time I’d ever run 10k, the first time I’d run a proper race, and I smashed my target time by over seven minutes!
The whole team did really well, everyone pushed themselves and got a great time. It felt like a real achievement. Sweaty but satisfied, we headed to the nearest pub for a post-race pint and a full English breakfast!
Since that first Leeds 10k I’ve kept up the running. I’ve entered into a few more 10k races and will hopefully be doing a couple more this year. I’ve managed to keep pushing and get my times down. Sometimes I absolutely love it, sometimes I hate every step. But it’s good exercise and always feels satisfying in the end. I’m aiming for under 45 minutes in 2017. It’s going to be a real challenge but it keeps me motivated.
I’m up for the Leeds 10k again this year. Hopefully I can convince a few more members of the Campuslife team to come along too. And I’ve still not been tempted by the skin-tight lycra.