This post was written by my sister Julie Adshade.
I had always been active. As a kid I played lots of games and sports with my friends outdoors. I was always on some sort of sports team in high school. And then there was …a lull. That was 4 years of studying engineering at university, then working full time and long commutes, going out with friends and well, let’s just call it LIFE. It got in the way and suddenly I wasn’t so active anymore.
Fast forward 8 years and I found myself living abroad in the sunny paradise of Australia. Aside from *trying* over and over and over again to continue the running I had picked up in high school, or playing the odd co-ed house league game just for fun, my movement in life in that span of 8 years was pretty much at a standstill. Aside from moving to a country that was predominantly warm for most of the year and had a great outdoor lifestyle, by sheer luck, I also joined a company that had a very active and young crowd of employees, eager to sign up for the next run, triathlon or bike ride.
After working there for about 8 months, I found myself suddenly blurting out over lunch that we should all sign up for the City2Surf 14km fun run that was happening in a few months. Most of my lunch buddies were relatively new to the company as well, many were transplants from overseas and there was a mix of people who had never run before and those who were fairly active. I hadn’t really realised that this idea had been formulating in my head for a little while until I heard myself trying to sell them all on it. This run in particular was the one my company supported and sponsored any employee to do. Essentially, if you were working there, or were direct family, you were in – free race entry and singlet or t-shirt. The varied responses I received over that lunch spurred me on to create a lunchtime walking group. Once a week after we finished our lunch, we would set off on a little walk in the area before heading back into work. This helped to attract the “non-runners” in the group. Registrations were soon due for the race and with my little walking club going well, people made the decision to join the run because “at least they knew they could walk the entire thing” without killing themselves. As weeks wore on, it was clear that the walking group would need to be stepped up to the next level. We would need to start training for the run by actually running, and so the walking group was moved to after work to accommodate more people and time. Most Wednesdays, we would meet up and walk over to the local park, where we would run the track for about 30 min (approx. 5km). Everyone did their own, went their own pace and completed their own distance. If you weren’t feeling well, you walked. If you were a superstar you did more than 5km. It was fun and inclusive because it was attainable for anyone at any point in their training. I opened the running practice to everyone in the company and we met more colleagues from other departments.
Eventually race day came along. Everyone did well; whether that was just DOING it, a mix of running and walking or smashing a personal time, the point was to get out there and give it a go. At the end of it, we were a group of people who had tried something out, trained together and had had a great time doing it. For me personally it was the longest distance I had ever tried to run. The course was quite hilly in sections, so I walked through those areas and kept going. My goal was to just do it and see how well I could go, knowing that I wouldn’t be running the entire distance.
But I couldn’t end things there. Those months of running had really opened my eyes to something. Running has never come easily to me. As a teenager, I had worked up to running for an hour, around my neighbourhood, with my Walkman on. The challenges and achievement I experienced while running had been left behind in those days and forgotten. I realised again that everything improved when I was running continuously; I slept better, could concentrate better, felt happier and had more energy. I soon signed up for the Sydney Bridge 9km run, the only time they shut down the Sydney Harbour Bridge and you get to puff along with thousands of other people without the worry of cars while enjoying the exquisite view of the harbour.
The end of that race also marked the end of running season in Sydney with no other *big* runs planned for several months. But by then, I was hooked. I ran our little work running group for 4 more seasons after that, with several of the same people, but also adding new ones along the way. In that time, I sought out new runs to try and made teams, eagerly emailing people to join yet another race where we could all run individually (but together) and meet up for breakfast afterwards to talk about our victories or pain. I even earned a new nickname – “The Capt.”. In total this included 5 City2Surf 14km runs, 1 Corporate Triathlon, 3 Sydney Harbour 10km runs, 2 Sydney Bridge 9km/10km runs, 1 Sun Run 10km run and even a Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon. My next run will be my second Sun Run 10km in February 2018 (wish me luck!). Members of my running group often still get together for many of these races even though our little running group is no longer. It’s a great way to continue to connect with people I don’t see on a daily basis.
However, since moving on from the regular training we all used to do together, I’ve included a new little running gem into my hobby – ParkRun. This is a completely free, community 5km event run weekly in parks all across the world. It started in the UK and has extensive coverage all across Australia, but it is very new to North America. ParkRun completely embodies the spirit of “just giving it a go”. Although you get a time and can see your standing and run history online, the main purpose is to get out and do it. It doesn’t matter how fit or unfit you are, how much experience you have, what demographic you may fit into, ParkRun is for everyone. I did my first ParkRun mid 2016 and started slowly, averaging about 1 a month. More recently, I’ve really started to hit my stride in ParkRun and have attended almost every Saturday for the past 2 months. I have just hit 25 ParkRuns and have a goal to complete my 50th in 2019.
Now with 5 years of semi-continuous running under my belt, I can say it is definitely one of my biggest hobbies and I think the habit is here to stay this time. Although it definitely gets easier with practice, running is still hard for me and I think it will always be a challenge. It takes time and effort to build up the stamina and endurance and it’s too easy to get out of practice. My goal now is to always, at any point, be able to run a 5km distance. As long as I can do that, I know I am in reasonably fit shape. Running has allowed me to gain so much in terms of health and happiness, but also in helping me to understand and listen to my body, allowing it to rest and relax when it needs to and knowing when I can push it that much more to improve my time.
If you’re not already a runner, but have an interest, start out just by walking. Decide to just do a short walk around your neighbourhood today. And see where it takes you.
***As always I am open to including guest bloggers on my blog.