Endurance. A word I don’t like as it implies the need to endure; to suffer; to push through a pain barrier. I prefer the term stamina. Defined as the ability to sustain and maintain prolonged physical effort, it’s nowhere near as brutal. In my case, it means I’m slow but I go.
I started running to shift the baby blubber. With a library book couch to 5k plan, I would run laps of the park under the cover of darkness. A persistent plodder; I completed a few events without glory. Running was the unpleasant thing I did to not be fat. I enjoyed collecting medals but didn’t think I was an athlete.
When I did concede to join a club, I didn’t fit. Trawden A.C. is incredibly supportive of all abilities, yet, at first, I pressured myself to get faster. One team relay, I was put on the second leg, after the fastest woman in the club! I finished almost in tears, knowing I’d run flat out and feeling like I’d let everyone down.
I could have easily stopped running but my stubbornness won out. “If I can’t run faster than you, I’ll run further.” I only have one pace, it places me back of the pack in the fast and furious stuff; but it’s perfect for longer distances and I can carry on all day.
I’ve learnt I love running but I hate running fast.
Running ultra is a nice trip out; exploring and having mini-adventures. It’s climbing a hill to bag a trig, stopping to watch a caterpillar, taking a selfie with a funny signpost, admiring the view. It’s learning how to use a map and compass, running with a head-torch across the moors at night, stopping at a pub for a pint of squash, falling in mud or jumping in a river to cool down on a sunny day.
I’ve run coast to coast following Hadrian’s Wall, 100k along the Rochdale Canal, I’ve followed the Trans-Pennine Trail for 50 miles from Liverpool to Manchester and run the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. I’ve explored the South Downs Way, Snowdonian mountains and Pennine moors. I ran 6 marathons last year. I’ve met amazing people, found a bucketful of confidence and eaten lots of cake and flapjack along the way.
It didn’t stop there. I discovered my stamina applied to other stuff too. I came second to last in my first sprint triathlon; now I’m an Ironman! I’ve been the last person to clamber out of the water in several swims and missed cut-off times but I’ve comfortably swum the length of Coniston Water, done 10k swims and am a double Isoman, (a triathlon with a 7 mile swim, 61 mile bike and a marathon.) I’m currently training to swim the 11 mile length of Windermere and next year I’m heading for the Channel with a relay team!
Stamina is my strength. I’m proof that you don’t have to be fast. You can be slow. Just go.