The anatomy of my first race – Clowance  January 2017

Throughout my running journey to date I have had a lot of what I class as ‘inner chat’ going on in my head.  From what i have read this happens to everyone but I always thought that what others experienced was not as stupid or negative as mine!!  

It would have helped me in the beginning to see what this looked like so that I could have been reassured that I was not the only one going through it.   Also, more importantly, it would have helped me to see this does not mean I cannot be a runner.  

No matter what part of the journey you are on everyone goes through it,  So in the name of honesty and transparency I thought I would share my inner chat from my first ever race.  Hopefully, this will make you feel that you are not going mad and the internal battle is much the same for everyone.


Ready; Set; Go….

‘What am I doing here? they are all ‘proper runners’, serious runners’.

I should not be here I am an imposter, a fraud.

They all look so fit and lean – god I must look like a joke to them, unfit and fat, get me out of here….Now.  No you can’t run away you will look pathetic.

Actually are they looking at me – yes they are.  Hold on a moment that guy is smiling at me.  OMG he just wishes me luck.  Crikey how nice is that?!

This is not so bad afterall!
The Starting line – nervous and excited in equal measure.

Over-riding questions

‘Am I ready for this?’

‘Yes I am,  well I think I am’

‘What If I can’t and I have to stop?’

I can do this

‘I don’t want to be last’

‘Oh god we are starting – s–t what was I thinking????


First Lap…..

Over-riding thoughts:

‘I can’t do this’ ‘yes you can’.

‘My legs are already tired and it’s the first lap,  I am never going to make it round’  ‘Yes you can Lisa’

‘ I don’t want to stop but I know I can’t do this’. ‘Just keep going a little while longer’

‘ Everone else looks like they are finding it easy’ ‘ I wish someone else would stop then I won’t feel so bad when I do’

‘Lisa you can do this’

‘ I can’t believe I was only 3/4’s of the way round when the first runners ran past us on there second lap-god I really should not be here.  I suppose they have been doing it a while.  If I can make it round I would be happy.  It was nice though that a high proportion were encouraging yelling  – doing well; keep going and don’t give up.  Runners are so friendly.
Lap 2

I need to stop,  I am sooooo tired, I need to stop.

I know I am not going to make it – why bother

I may as well stop now,  why punish myself further,  as I am not going to complete without walking some of it.

I just can’t do it, I really can’t do it.

There is Sue my coach – she has finished already – if only I was that good.

What did she just say ‘ Lisa do you want me to run with you’?  ” Yes please I am not going to complete otherwise’

I need all the help I can get.


Lisa your doing great, you have got this.  If you need to slow down that’s not a problem.  In fact slow down a bit it may help.


Ok Sue, but if I slow

I am afraid I am going to stop and I don’t want to stop but I don’t think I can do this.


If you need to stop – stop and walk for a bit.


No I want to keep going


Not far now lisa


I thought I was going this way to the finish line – what do you mean it’s that way.  But that’s on an incline!!   With disabling desperation ‘I CAN’T DO THIS’


Stop and walk before you go round the corner to give you the energy to get up that incline.


OK,  but Sue I don’t think I can do this


Yes you can – let’s go.




Look lisa you can see the finish line

My friend and other coach comes running out and yells Lisa you can do this at the top her lungs.

So end up running in with two out of my three coaches cheering me on.

The Finish Line

I only went and finished it!! I am sooooo relieved that’s over.  Feeling really really overwhelmed – I think I am going to cry.  I am crying why am I crying – I am being ridiculous.  I am such an emotional mess!!

Graduation from Running Club.

What do you mean I get a woolly hat for completing the race?!!  I deserve a flaming medal!!


That’s OK you have completed the 5k so you now get your running club medal, certificate and bottle of fizz to celebrate..


Well, that makes it totally worth it.

What did this Race teach me:

  • You need to run your race and not think about other people’s as it increases your self doubt
  • I have a hell of a lot of negativity going on in my head from before the race starts – I need to learn how to switch it off, drown it out!
  • Always prepare for hills and the unknown like mud!!
  • Don’t walk you always regret it in the end
  • Race’s are addictive!  I am so doing another one!

I now have muddy shoes which shows what I have been through to get this far!  I have made it…..I am a runner 🙂


It is at this point I want to say to Sue/Ivor and  Heidi thank-you guys for all the coaching you have given me.  If it was not for you I would not have got through any run much less writing a blog about it.

Tim, Julie, Andrew and of course Suzie my fellow running clubbers – you are all amazing and I love you all.  Thank-you for letting me be part of your running group and becoming my friends.


My Running Journey so Far

The Trigger to Run

It’s hard to believe that in June 2016 I was seriously unfit, overweight and most definitely exercise adverse.

I was unwell in Jan of 2016 which forced me to re-evaluate my life. Leading with the question “what can I do to help myself?”.   I looked at the usual suspects, diet, stress levels,  and work/life balance.  The very last thing I wanted to think  about was exercise!!  However, I did and started with increasing  my steps to 10,000 a day.  Most days I managed 2000, which I had to admit was pretty poor.  My (not so uncommon) excuse was that I work in an office and obviously, could not find the time to fit any exercise in.  So instead I tried to make up for it by going for walks along the beautiful cliff tops of Cornwall at the weekends.  Although nice, socialising with friends soon got in the way and so another excuse was found not to go for that walk.  So then I thought rather than take up my precious weekends I tried Zumba during the week, but soon found out that classes are really not my thing.  Basically no matter what I tried, none of it  enthused me enough to make exercise a habit!

Then I met up with my lovely neighbour Suzie one night for a “glass of fizz” and all that changed.  Suzie told me that some of her friends were starting an after work running club.  Apart from the two running coaches none of the group were runners.  This seemed perfect as we would all be starting at the same point, so I asked to join and my running journey began.

Can I Run?

I would love to say I was a natural runner and that it was easy but I would most definitely be lying!  For an overweight,  exercise adverse person like me it was never going to be easy and trust me it wasn’t and isn’t!

Initially I only had to run 1 minute and walk 1.5 for a total 30 mins which equated to 10 mins of running overall. After the first minute I felt like my lungs were about to explode and I was struggling to find any breath whatsoever.  Quite simply I was shocked and mortified in equal measure, how had I ever got to this level of unfitness.  However, with lots of support I continued to come to the classes each week and slowly worked up to 3 minutes of continuous running.

Pain and Trainers

Then,  came the painful shin splints and muscle cramps that would try to sabotage any attempts I made to try and complete a full 4mins of running.  The coaches suggested my footwear may need upgrading and recommended a running shop called “at your pace”.

So off to “At Your Pace” running shop I went.  I walked up to the front door and thought,  oh no no no no,  “I cannot go in there – it’s for “serious runners”.  I panicked for a bit and then braved it and walked in.  This otherworld that I was being thrown into was initially intimidating.  That is until I introduced myself to the guy behind the counter.  I explained to him I was doing the couch to 5K and was not a proper runner but had been advised to come and get some shoes to overcome shinsplints etc.  He told me firstly he hated the term Couch to 5K– it is beginner to 5K and secondly welcome to running which immediately put me at ease.

He then started to talk about ‘Gait analysis‘ this is where you run on a treadmill and video your foot placement to see whether you land on the outside (overpronation) inside (supination) or in a neutral position.  This helps to guide what trainers you require.

The thought of being video’d running on a treadmill by a fit runner was not filling me with delight!   Initially I had to run barefoot and then in the trainers I usually run in, which was not too bad lasted about 30-60 seconds each.  I manage to do this without too much embarrassment thankfully and he stated that I had an over-pronation and would require stabilising shoes. Fine I thought until he came down with 6 pairs of trainers and told me I had to run in every pair, i was horrified.   ” I have to run for a minute in each pair?” ” Yes so that we can find a shoe that puts your foot in the best alignment to correct your overpronation”.  I nearly ran out the shop, heck I could only run for 3 minutes and I was going to have to run in all 6.  It’s not like I could ask for a timed break between each pair.  I did not want to embarrass myself further,  I swallowed hard and puffed and panted my way through the 6 pairs of trainers.  I chose the Brooks ravenna 8’s – he asked me whether  I wanted to run in them one last time to be sure that I was comfortable in them.  My brain screamed “HELL NO” but what actually came out was “no thanks I am happy with my choice”.

My first pair of proper running shoes and they are still my most favourite treasured possession.

I took them out for a spin and it was like night and day!  Shin splints and cramp had vanished and I managed 4 whole minutes non-stop.  To say I was ecstatic was an understatement.

Couch to Race Line-Up.

In between the weekly running club as I downloaded the app ‘ couch to 5k in 8 weeks!’  I would like to point out that 8 weeks is false advertising as it took me 7 months to get my first 5k under my belt.  But boy was I chuffed when I did.

Once I had reached my 5k I decided to enter myself and my neighbour into a “proper race” that was run by freedom racing.  The run was advertised as flat and suitable for beginners but was also a mile longer than the 5K I was used to. Despite this I felt optimistic,  after my friend Heidi had manage to get me to the 5k milestone afterall how bad could it be?

Well the big day came – Suzie and I lined up and we were a mix of terrified and excited.  What the hell were we doing with these “proper runners”.  We both felt like imposters.  But again how bad could it be?  We made sure we were at the back  so as not to hold anyone up and off we went.

Hills, Dreaded Hills

We starting off well – it was flat…… that was until we rounded the corner and found this sloping muddy field.  They said no hills…..!  Both Suzie and I fell into a blind panic but quickly got a grip and through gritted teeth ran onwards and most definitely upwards!

It was two circuits so we knew we would face this hill again which did not inspire confidence.  Once we climbed the hill and I fell into the brook at the top Suzie was ecstatic and smiling I was focusing on just making it through without killing myself.

Suzie smiling after the first lap.

Me focused and grimacing – thinking how the hell am I going to make it around another lap,  without killing myself – someone please help me!

Finish Line

I did make it around, not in one hit like Suzie but with multiple stops.  Whilst really relieved and happy I made it around, a little later, I felt disappointed and demoralised that I had not done it without stopping.

Determination and obsession

I nearly ended my running journey there,  but with a lot of moral support I continued.  I looked at how far I had come and thought to give up now would take me back to the couch potato I once was and I did not want that.

This is where my running obsession truly started, I did not want to revert back so I immersed myself in it determined to become a proper runner”.   I read up on anything and everything I could and still do in the aid of being the best I can.  Some of the topics I have read up on are overcoming shin splints, breathing techniques,  psychology of running and how to overcome the negative voices in your head that sabotage your running goals.

All of this reading has helped as I have now reached 10K and I am about to mark this formally by running Vitality 10,000 in London.  If you want to know how I get on look out for my post!

It seems that I have finally become what I never thought I would ” A total running nut”.  I have become one of those lycra clad people I had secretly envied.  Now I spend most of my time reading running magazines, searching the web and watching you tube clips!  I get so excited about new running gear and the latest tech.  Who knew this person was waiting to come out.

So if you think you can’t do it – read this story again as I am living proof that you can.