There was a time, not so very long ago, that I’d hear the term ‘‘fun run’’ and snicker.
Sweating and puffing. Sounds like a hoot.
But when a friend and fellow mum looking for fitness motivation roped me into doing the inaugural Fernleigh 15 – on condition we could walk if jogging proved too tough – it began an entirely unexpected appreciation for the sport.
The Fernleigh 15, as the name suggests, is a 15-kilometre run along the Fernleigh Track from Adamstown to Belmont.
The first few training runs were tough. Everything I thought they’d be.
Red-faced from exertion, I was sweating, I was puffing, and boy, was I struggling.
Why would anyone ever consider this fun?
I recalled friends – long-time runners – saying that if they hadn’t jogged for a week they’d be edgy, cranky even.
Pffft. What a load of rot, I thought.
But after a couple of slow jogs behind the pram each week, gradually I began to find my running legs.
Sometimes the pram helped – our speed lifted while we were going down hills, for instance.
Other times it was a hindrance, such as when we turned around and had to go back up those damn hills.
Sometimes I’d rest my elbows on the handle, slouching over the pram for respite.
Needless to say, my technique wasn’t all it should be.
On weekends my running buddy and I would take the opportunity to go for a run without the kids, and after a couple of weeks we were running eight kilometres, then 10 kilometres, then 11.
Slowly but surely we were getting there.
Even more surprising was that I found myself looking forward to it.
‘‘Who are you and what have you done with my wife?’’ my husband joked.
Race day arrived and the prospect of running 15 kilometres was still very daunting.
We aimed to run at least 12 kilometres, then walk if need be.
The starter gun went off and we managed to keep to our usual slow, steady pace, as tempting as it was to try to keep up with the crowd.
We had almost hit the Adamstown tunnel when we heard the cooees of the fittest and fastest of the next wave of runners, who had left a good five minutes after us, as they passed.
It wasn’t as demoralising as I’d expected.
It felt good to be part of something like this.
We passed through the first drinks station, and let me tell you, the athletes you see on TV who drink as they run make it look easy.
There was some spluttering, some water spilled. Never mind.
Our pace picked up and our faces lit up whenever we saw one of the event photographers peppered along the track – there couldn’t be any evidence to suggest we were having anything less than a ball.
We reached the 10-kilometre mark. Then the 11th and 12th.
The 13th kilometre was the toughest. Our muscles were aching, but we had come so far and had gotten so close, neither of us wanted to give up. We’d found our groove.
When I started to ‘‘blow’’, my friend’s steady rhythm kept me going, and vice versa.
Had we actually become runners over the past few months?
We high-fived as we crossed the finish line, both of us glowing – not only from the effort but also from the pride and sense of achievement.
Those looking for motivation to run, or a way to get started, can join like-minded people for a free, timed five-kilometre jog around the Throsby Creek area with Newy Parkrun every Saturday from 8am. Visit parkrun.com.au/newy to register.
Alternatively, visit the Newcastle-based thenakedrunners.com for tips, tricks, inspiration and motivation.