March 9, 2012 | life

Work in Progress

I came across the picture on the left recently, of me after I finished my first half marathon in October 2010. That look on my face is my ‘I can’t quite believe I just did that’ face. The pic on the right is from a shoot I did for Nike a couple of weeks ago. I put the two shots side by side and it was quite literally right there in front of me how far I’ve come. Running has been the propeller component that kick started this particular journey in my life, but it’s become about so much more than the running.

The Beginning

That girl on the left is not a natural runner by any means. I couldn’t run for 30 seconds when I started. When I finally did manage to get going more than a few yards, I could just about muster up 12 minute miles. I was the girl who got up at 5:30am and ran under the cover of darkness, in my big baggy sweatpants, before the rest of the world got up. I was changing, going through a transition, trying something I’d never done before – that’s scary enough without people actually seeing me do it.

A Breakthrough

Suddenly one day, I felt OK enough to ditch the big baggy sweatpants and don some Lycra. Then I felt OK about going for a run in the afternoon. People could see me. And I felt fine about it. Sometimes I had to stop and walk, sometimes it hurt, a lot of the time, I struggled, but I felt fantastic and suddenly, I thought it was important that people see me struggle and hurt and get a stitch, because this is what life is – we all struggle with things and we can’t always hide them and pretend they’re not happening. By me getting out there, being honest and letting people see my struggle, it lets them know that it’s OK for them to struggle too.

Achieving Goals

In the space of just over a year, I’ve completed five half marathons and a full one. The girl in the pic on the right has found an inner peace and confidence, a drive I didn’t know I had. Maybe it was always there, I just needed running to teach me how to use it. That girl on the right has Nike call her to ask her to be in a photo shoot and give them a few quotes on the role fitness plays in her life for their Facebook page (the girl on the left still can’t quite believe all this is happening).

Keep Pushing

Last night, as part of my training for the Berlin Half Marathon, I had a track session. As I ran the Paris Half at the weekend and haven’t run all week, I was going to do a slightly shorter session of just 4 x 400m (400m, for those who don’t know, is once round the track fast, taking one minute rest, then repeat). As soon as I got going, doing my first lap in 1 minute 30 seconds, my breathing heavy, the thought of three more made me wince. But I went again, and again. The fourth lap had me on my hands and knees gasping for breath at the end of it. Staring at the tarmac, willing myself to get up, I thought ‘I’ve got one more in me.’ I got up, dusted myself off and went off again for another lap. My legs hurt, my chest hurt, but I went again and did another lap. I did eight in total. Somewhere over this year and a half long journey, I have found the will to prove myself wrong, to push a little harder each time.

Those four extra laps were for the girl in the picture on the left. Because part of me will always be the 12 minute miler, getting up at 5:30am and running under the cover of darkness in my big baggy sweatpants. I need to show her and others like her that I can be better, that I should push more.

This isn’t a before and after – it’s a work in progress.

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25 Comments

Honest Mum

Well done girl and you look gorgeous in both. Everything starts from a small step and you’ve found or rather cultivated a passion through hard work and let’s not forget how enjoyable running is. Go, go, go x

Angel Dee

Tis a funny thing. Not this journey but mine..

My “anniversary” is at the end of this month and while my medal haul will not be as impressive as your at one at the time with two more, possibly three marathons by the end of 2012 to go there are a plethora of parallels to your journey.

I think I am still that girl on the left, (we look so alike, non?) and there are moments like when I comfortably ran fifteen miles that I become the girl on the right. Even though its only been a year this running thing has changed my life so much, I dread to think where I’d be now. Good for you, Miss. xx

Suzie @maydossu

beautifully written. What drives me to change is my son, and like running and improving your time, motherhood’s a certain work in progress too. I live in Istanbul – only city in the world to host a marathon on two continents; you should come run it one day..maybe I’ll run it with you!

Claire Nelson

I have SO MUCH respect for how far you’ve come. The transition is clear to see; you’ve found something that strengthens you and you’ve thrived. I remember that first morning and the shed-load of nerves flying about. Now look at that confidence! Well done amigo. The girl on the left inspired me then, but both left and right continue to inspire me now.

Delali

This is the most inspiring thing I’ve read in some time.
I’m still looking for that ‘thing’ within me, but I won’t stop till I find it.
Your honesty and ability to share is wonderful and I really appreciate you for it.
Thank you Bangs xx

Fran

Great post – I love reading about your running journey – for what it is and for the metaphor it stands for. Really inspiring stuff.x

Anna

Honestly, this is the kind of post I needed today without you even knowing it.

I have tried running in the past and everytime I tried, I felt like a complete failure. I couldn’t get to the end of the road without feeling like I was going to pass out.

I am so cross at myself because not only because I am determined to get rid of the weight I have gained last year but also I want to be fit. I want to go out running with the dog and not feel completely useless.

Thank you Bangs. You have been me think that no matter where I start, I can get there xxx

Elizabeth Holdsworth

This has made me cry a little bit, to be honest. It’s brilliant. I’m not even the girl on the left, I’d be the girl before that, who hasn’t even started running in the dark! Not strictly true, I do run a bit, poorly and often in pain. You have no idea how inspiring it is to see that even people who run marathons started a lot closer to where I am now. Thank you.

Aimee

I love this. I started running three weeks ago, and it kind of sucks but it’s also awesome at the same time.

RunUrb

Love the sparkly eyes in pic on the left, the confidence in pic on right. And way to nail that track sesh! x

Alice

Inspiration and a great story, never be scared about trying something new!!! good luck with the rest of the running
it wont be after until the knees give in lol x

blue roses

i would love to run a half marathon, but i keep telling myself it is impossible… what an accomplishment! love your proud smile!

Fran

To answer your question on twitter “what are you doing to push yourself to be better?” – my answer is perhaps a little different. My “girl on the left” is the girl that pretends everything is ok. That pretends her migraines aren’t that big of a deal, that has a high powered job, that pushes through regardless and that puts on a front. My “girl on the right” is starting to realise that the girl on the left needs to stop putting on a front and admit she has a problem. The girl on the right isn’t giving up, but she’s no longer putting on a brave face and she’s doing all she can to get back to good health even if in the short term this makes her seem like she is “weak” and “failing”. The girl on the right is making a stand, she’s making a change. It won’t be an easy fight but at least she is taking action.

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