Friends with benefits …

So as I am meant to be ‘mostly talking about running’, today that’s just what I am going to do. As exercise motivators and manuals will tell you and on this I agree, the success to any training or fitness regime is having goals and plans and sticking to those commitments.

Who does not love a plan ? Since the days of revising for O grades I have found few things quite as  satisfying as drawing up my schedule, colour coding , adding in some mind maps and hey – sticking it on the wall.

Following the plan to the letter is something quite different, and as a procrastinator of many years standing, I have to admit the plan ( or deciding on the plan ) is often much more fun than the implementation.

So it was for me when it came to exercise, and with predictable regularlity I found myself signing up for some class or other ( yoga, body conditioning, pilates,body pump, aqua aerobics) and then after two or three sessions managing to find excuses or reasons not to finish the course.

While I am no slacker in life ( well maybe just occasionally ) I admit that when it came to following through on exercise commitment, I struggled to keep the faith.

My first attempts at running also fell into this pattern , as armed with a book and training plan, I rarely managed to keep to the schedule. Mostly I found the running unenjoyable; I felt really unfit and dispirited by how difficult it seemed to be to run without feeling like I was dying – how did everyone else seem to make it look so effortless ?  But at the same time I was too impatient to follow the prescribed build up from walk/ run intervals suggested. I know that lots of folk have found this approach perfect, but it did not work for me.

All very unsatisfactory.

I was poised to abandon running to my ever growing ‘tried it but its not for me’ list of exercises,  when one Saturday watching my daughter play hockey, I found myself chatting to a fellow hockey Mum about life,the universe and running and mentioning in passing that I had recently taken up running I discovered that she was also a runner.


I remember being impressed by how much running she did and admitting to her that I was not really enjoying running, but had considered entering a race at some point to have a goal, if only I could get past my own inability to keep running for long enough to cover any distance!!

My fellow Mum was very positive about running and suggested I go running with her sometime- saying she would be happy to run at any pace and help me build up the distance. She seemed very encouraging, and by then we had shared a few chilly Saturdays watching our daughters play hockey- so after some hesitation I asked if she would be happy to go running with me one weekend.

This was in March 2009 and the rest they say is history.

Without a doubt I would not still be running today, had I not met my running mentor and now good friend Alison. From that first run I discovered that the missing ingredient for me in keeping to a regular exercise plan, is to have a running buddy and to make committments.

Starting the year as we plan to go on

Some pepole love to run alone, or with music, but for me running with friends is the perfect antidote to modern day living !

Looking back – I realised that when I had successfully kept to a regular exercise programme, they had all involved a social element. I used to cycle most weeks with a close friend, until a change of job made it difficult to find the time, and before my older daughter moved to university, we used to go swimming together on a Monday evening.

Everyone is different, and you have to find what works for you, but when you can mix exercise with pleasure – I think there is much more chance of sticking to the plan.

Autumnal Devon tractor

4 thoughts

  1. What a lovely piece or writing, Margaret – and thanks for giving me so much credit – much appreciated. I have wondered quite a few times how long it is since we began running together, and now I know. Must say have enjoyed all the chat, and highs and lows of our running together, and with the other members of our “club” – especially Linda and Lil.

    1. Yes Alison I enjoyed reflecting on running and hope to include more pictures of our running club – although somehow most seem to be in the snow , so need to wait a while before they are in season !
      Thanks for the lovely comment 🙂

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