Lisa James tells us how she became a runner - and why she's still at it today
I still remember very clearly the days when I thought I could never be a runner. And certainly never an ‘outdoor runner.’ I mean people might see me, and look at me, and maybe even judge me - for somehow not doing it properly at all...
Except fast forward through the years and you find me writing this as a runner - and not just any old runner either. I’m a marathon runner, a half marathon runner, a 10k runner, a 5k runner, a park runner, a club runner (CDF Runners - they’re awesome!) - and since a couple of weekends ago a trail runner too!
My running started at a small (usually empty - I liked that) YMCA gym in Neath, until I eventually did my first outdoor run around Victoria Park in Cardiff (literally one lap of the park), and my first ever race (terrified I’d be the last one home) at a St. David’s Day 5k in Bute Park. Since then it’s fair to say the journey has been a winding one with plenty of peaks and troughs along the way. I’ve run in sunshine, I’ve run in rain. I’ve run in good times, I’ve run in bad. I even stopped for 12 months - worn out through stress and anxiety after divorce (after, that is, the running had gotten me through...).
I’ve been running with the CDF lot for roundabout 4 or 5 years, best guess, and they’ve added a whole different dimension to my experience of the sport. The most supportive, inclusive, encouraging, engaged group of people you could ever wish to meet, they quite honestly feel like friends as much as running buddies. I’d always expected a run club to be quite elitist - but CDF is anything but. Everyone is welcome (with my own personal values centred around equality and inclusivity this is important to me), and anything goes - particularly if it involves cake!
Ultimately, in the years since that first treadmill run at the YMCA, running has become an essential part of my life. It’s something that, alongside my yoga, calms and grounds me. Elevates me when I feel down. And gives me space for myself in a life that so often can feel as though it’s become about everyone else. The motivation to keep going is pretty simple - it’s about love for the wind in my hair, and the ground beneath my feet but also a need to keep myself in touch with… well, myself.
So, my message to any woman (indeed anyone) who thinks they can’t run?
You’re wrong. Because you can.
So start small - but start often. And look up a local friendly club (if you’re in Cardiff my vote is CDF Runners obviously!) to help you along the way.Lisa James is (now) a long-time runner, and yoga teacher too. You can find her writing about yoga, running, and the role that exercise has played in her life’s development over at yogalust.co/blog.