Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The first mile

This morning I ran a mile. Without stopping. Without walking. I. Ran. For a whole mile. For the first time in my life.

I never set out to become a runner. I set out, for a while last spring, and then again just a few weeks ago, to get some exercise by going for a walk before breakfast. A fast walk, proper four-mile-an-hour stuff, four miles, in fact - two out and two back - in an hour. But not to run. Running - never; not for me. At school, I was called Snail. At primary school one sports day my teacher (the vile Miss Berrill) told me not to enter one race because I 'would hold the others up.'

But as I neared home one day, I noticed there was quite a long downhill stretch right to the end of my road - the very thing that sometimes made it a bit of a struggle to get started. It was too tempting. I started to run. The next day and following days, I started to run a bit sooner. Last week, I ran for the final half mile. Then I noticed that my route actually had a clear pattern to it. Leaving the house, the first mile was mainly uphill; realatively steep to start, then fairly flat; the second, almost exactly, was a more gentle downward slope. This morning I decided to start running at the one mile mark and see how I got on. I told myself I could stop at any time. But then once I started... I could have stopped, but then I would never know what would happen. I could keep going; this wasn't actually all that hard. Yes, I was panting (just a bit); yes I was sweating (gratifyingly) but I could do it; I could keep going. I didn't have to stop. The route is quite familiar to me by now and I could see the end in sight. I knew that I could do it; I wasn't going to stop until I got to that speed limit sign. It came surprisingly quickly; the difference between walking and running. Get your exercise in that much faster. My first mile took me eight minutes and thirty nine seconds.

Tomorrow there will be another one, and soon there will be a faster one. I am a runner.

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