Why I Run

Why I Run

I’m in the spotlight today as part of Kristy from Runaway Bridal Planner‘s Blog Hop. So hello to all my new readers! My blog is about running, with occasional forays into recipes and reviews. I like to write about my training for events as it keeps me focussed and hopefully will help other people who are training for similar events. I like to write race reviews in case anyone else is thinking about entering the races and I do love reading reviews myself. They often give you a heads up on things to watch out for in a race that the official description might not mention. If I share recipes, food or review products they are always vegan as I have been vegan for over 20 years.

Today I thought I’d write about why I run and see if any of you share my reasons.

Running keeps me fit

The whole reason I started running was because of fitness. I’ve never been into sports, I never ran at school, but I have always been active. I was in a 1960s dance troupe called The Actionettes for over 10 years and I used to go to regular swing and R&B nights (the proper sort of swing and R&B from the 1940s and 50s) before I moved to the countryside. Unfortunately in my little village there aren’t many opportunities to go dancing.

Dancing with the Actionettes
Dancing with the Actionettes

And then I learnt to drive. As I was born and raised in London I never needed to drive, there was plenty of public transport to get you from A to B, and most of it ran through the night. When I moved to my little village my public transport options were drastically cut, so I thought I better learn to drive. Once I passed my test I was driving everywhere and walking less and less. Which meant I was getting unfit and putting on an inch or two.

So I started running. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like it and I never imagined I’d still be running almost 2 years later, but here I am. Fitter than I was and really enjoying running!

Being social

Running can be a solitary activity but for me it’s a very social one. About 5 months after starting to run I joined not one but two running clubs. Joining the clubs has not only made me a better runner but I have made some good friends along the way. This summer I’ve had some fantastic runs with friends and with my mum. We’ve been to new places, we’ve run in the sunshine and got soaked in the pouring rain.

Yes, that is a man playing a ukulele helping us warm up
Yes, the man in the middle is playing a ukulele to help us warm up

There is a fantastic community of runners. Whether it is at a club, during weekly parkruns, for meetups, in online chats (#ukrunchat on Twitter is fun), Facebook groups or just chatting to people during races, there is always a friendly face, a warm welcome and sometimes cake.

Running is infectious

A few weeks after I started to run so did my mum. She thought if I could run maybe she should give it a go. I’ve since run 7 races with her, including her first 10 mile race back in October. My dad has also joined us running, I ran my first 10k with him in July 2014 and he joined me and my mum for another 3 races.

Come back mum, honestly it won't be that bad!
Come back mum, honestly it won’t be that bad!

I’ve got my friends running and people at work running, I’ve even started a lunchtime running club at work. I’ve also lead a Start to Run course which finished last week. I was so proud to run with the participants as they completed their first 5k. 

I’m a nature lover

I love running off road or on trails. I’m lucky enough to run in some beautiful and varied countryside. Woods, fields, canals, lakes and hills. Being outdoors surrounded by nature is just wonderful. I’ve seen hares, red kites, voles and weasels when I’ve been running and I live in hope of seeing a badger. I even get to do some foraging and have come home from runs with bags of peas, apples and blackberries.

A bleak and frost morning. Perfect for a run!
A bleak and frosty morning. Perfect for a run!

I run throughout the year so I get to see the changes of the season, from frost on trees and spider webs, to summer fields full of hay. The changes mean it’s never boring running the same route, there is always something new to see.

I get to explore

Whether it is new streets and alleyways in towns or new footpaths and trails in the fields running makes me an explorer. Some runs I’ll just go where I fancy, I’ll spot a gap in the hedge and see where it takes me. Even getting hopelessly lost over the summer when I couldn’t find the footpath was fun, eventually.

A arch and style in the hedge
I wonder where this leads…

I love signing up to races in new areas. If I hadn’t ran Trailffest this year I would never have seen the stunning mountains, lakes, waterfalls and slate paths that I did. And if I hadn’t ran the Ricky Road Run I would never have known how close the town is to some rather splendid commons.

I get to win

I’ll admit it, I do love running for pleasure but I also like the challenge of setting myself a target and winning. Of course, when I say I get to win I don’t mean I come first, I’m not sure I would ever be fast enough to be the first to cross the finish line. What I mean is I win for me.

What I like about running is that I am never competing against anyone but myself. I can set myself a goal and I can work really hard to get there, and sometimes I might just make it.

Medals from my first year of running
Medals from my first year of running

In the spring I set myself the target of getting my 5k time down to 26 minutes. I worked really hard for 8 weeks with lots of speed work, hill sessions and tempo runs. When it came to my target race I ran it hard and crossed the line in 26 minutes 37 seconds, a whole 2 minutes off my time from the same race last year. That was definitely a win for me.

Do you have similar reasons for running as me? If you don’t run, what do you love about your favourite workout or exercise?

  • Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry

    Nicola, I love this. How cool, the Actionettes. So groovy, so hip, that is awesome. Nice to find your blog via the blog hop. I love running for many of the same reasons, to get out and enjoy nature and explore, plus I like keeping active and young for my kids.

    • A lot of people I know with children like to keep fit for them. Not only are you being a fantastic role model for them it also means that you will be healthier later on in life, which must be a good thing!

  • I LOVE that you dance swing! How exciting! I’ve always wanted to learn the proper swing dance style! Would love any tips to start!

    I also love running because of the idea of competing with yourself. I’ve never been very well coordinated so sports were never something I was able to excel at! But even though there are skilled runners, I feel that its a sport anyone can do and excel at in their own way!

    Applause for your 5k progress! Would love to know more about your training! I’m currently working on my own improvement for my 5k time. What was your original time before your goal of 26 minutes?
    https://curlycaroline.wordpress.com/

    • I went to lessons to learn to dance but there are some great Dvds and YouTube tutorials. I think the best tip is to not to take it too seriously and just enjoy it.

      Running is definitely an accessible sport, which is another thing I love about it.

      My 5k plan was from Women’s Running magazine and had 3 runs per week, two speed work sessions and one longer run. I really liked following the plan, it made me get out there even when I wasn’t feeling it.

  • Sarojini

    I love running (most of the time) and like you I do it to keep fit and healthy. It’s the perfect partner for a vegan diet! I also find it gets rid of stress really well, especially longer runs. I have a stressful job so that’s really important to me. My husband is my running club I suppose, as we train together. He’s nearly always slightly faster than me so it pushes me to work harder. I live on the outskirts of Birmingham and there are lots of trees, parks, footpaths etc. but I’m a country girl by birth so I’d love to run in the countryside like you do. Running Bug is the social part of my running, but I’m a bit hit and miss with it. Like you I love to dance; in my 20s and early 30s I was a professional dancer and teacher so I’ve always thrived on an active lifestyle. But into my 40s I got my heaviest and most unfit ever- luckily running turned that around and I can once more wear what I like! I’m so much fitter and stronger too. I ran one race, the 2014 Birmingham half, and missed this year so of illness. I’d love to do the Ashby 20 in the Spring but I know training for that will be hard!

    • I didn’t realise you were ill for Birmingham, what a shame. I hope you are better now.

      It always surprises me how many vegans are also runners. The two definitely complement each other.

      What sort of dance did you do? We were very much an amateur group as none of us had any dance training, we all just love music and love dancing to it.

      Let me know if you enter the Ashby 20. It looks like a good race and I’m sure running with your husband will help with your training. I did some of my HM training this summer with a friend who was faster than me and I think it did me good!

      • Sarojini

        I was ballet trained but did contemporary dance and even some belly dancing professionally. Loved the pic of you guys dancing; it looks like a great group.
        I suspect I have asthma, and planning to get that checked out. I need to get it under control before serious training as it’s really begun to affect my speed now it’s colder and windier. After that ‘s sorted I’m hoping to improve more rapidly and then can think about working up to the 20, will keep you posted. X

  • Runwright

    I love that picture of the Actionettes. Great name. Congrats on all those medals. I love the race bling myself although I haven’t done any races in a while. I love that your family runs with you. And you started running clubs. You’re very inspiring.
    http://Runwright.net

    • Thank you, that’s really nice to say.

      I’m not sure if I will have as many medals this year as a lot of the races I entered didn’t have any bling. I’ve got a few t-shirts and a couple of water bottles instead.

  • My mom got me into running and we still do most races together. She’s battling a hamstring injury and she just started a stressful new job, so she’s taken some time off. I’m ready for her to get back out there. It’s not the same without her. I have the same reasons for running. I like to set new time goals and train hard to achieve them. I chased my goal of a sub 2:00 half for 18 months, but finally made it in October with a 1:59:57. Only three seconds to spare, but I was ecstatic!

    • Those three seconds make all the difference. Congratulations on getting under 2 hours!

      My mum has had injuries due to a condition she has so I know how it must be for both you and your mum. Thankfully she’s been injury free for a while and we’re now planning to run her first half marathon next spring. I hope your mum is back out running with you soon.

  • Hi, I’m visiting from the hop! I love how you have inspired others to start running. I enjoy the outdoors very much too and like to say that I’m solar powered. There’s just nothing better than being outside or on the water. I like to set challenges for myself, although they don’t always work out. But, sometimes they do and I think that’s what keeps us moving forward. You have a great collection of medals from 2014. It was very nice to meet you!

    • Solar powered, I like that!

      Sometimes we don’t achieve what we set out to do but I think that helps us to reassess what we want. It either makes us more determined or makes us realise that it wasn’t the right goal for us!

  • I love that you started blogging to keep yourself focused. Not only are you helping yourself–you are helping others! And look at all those wins–keep it up!

    • Thank you. I hope the blog does help others, it’s really made me focus on what I want from my running!

  • Visiting from the blog hop! Love those outfits in your dance pics. You all look like you stepped right out of mama mia. So cute! Inspiring others to run is the best isn’t it? Hope to see you over at my Meatless Monday link up sometime sharing your recipes.

    • Thanks! We had some rather fun costumes including a cave girl outfit and a space girl one. We made most of them ourselves too.

      Thanks for inviting me to your link up. I’ll definitely do a post or two for it.

  • Wowsers! I love that running is like a family hobby for you guys, how awesome. You’re right, it is infectious! I only started because I saw a friend was training for a half marathon, and I know that there are a few people who have started to run because they’ve seen me progress.
    Great to meet you through this blog hop
    Meg x

    • I think seeing friends and family progress with running does inspire people. You start to think “well if she can do it, so can I!”

  • so awesome your family has gotten into running along with you. I love to run. I started more as a healthy journey but once I started meeting people and signing up for races it became just a part of who I am!

    • I really enjoy running with my family, I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like to though.

      The social side of running is great. Even if it’s just chatting to people at races and at the start line, I’ve found that people are so friendly.

  • christy

    I love the fact that you get off of the beaten path and see where the gap in the hedge takes you! It seems that a lot of runners lose sight of the beauty!

    • I love getting off the beaten path, even if I do get lost. I think sometimes it’s easy for people to focused on times, pace and distance and forget to look around them.

  • Kathryn Thayer

    Running is most definitely infectious. I never imagined that I’d enjoy running as much as I have come to. Growing up, it was always something that I hated and avoided doing.

    • Same here! I didn’t really like running at school, it was so hard! Starting running as an adult and taking it slowly with walk/run was so much easier and much more fun.

  • Runnin Rocker

    The area you live sounds fantastic for running. I especially like that you got your parents running and even racing with you. A few years back, my dad did a mud run with us and it was just such a great time. Running can definitely be infectious that’s for sure. That’s funny (since you made it back safely) that you got lost during a run. That’s how you know it was a good one and you were feeling great! I’ve done that once. I didn’t get lost but I forgot to turn down a certain street so I ended up with a way longer run. It was good except it was almost dark before I got home. I agree, running groups are a great way to not skip your weekly runs and to make new running friends. Happy to meet you through Grow Your Blog blog hop!!

    • Doing a mud run with your dad sounds like fun. I’ve never done one but I am tempted by them. People always look like they are having such a great time running them.

      Your long run sounds great, sometimes taking the wrong turn can end up being the right one!

  • It is totally infectious – I never thought it could happen, but its true.
    I love so much you run with your mom. That’s so special.

    • Same here! When I started I just thought I’d do the couch to 5k course, do my 5k and that would be it but I really got hooked!

  • Lauren

    It is so nice to meet you through the blog hop! I love that you are into running clubs! It is such fun networking with other runners! I am looking forward to following your blogging journey!

    • I really love my running clubs! It’s great chatting to people, it makes the run go faster and it’s so encouraging too.

  • Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin

    Running has opened up so many opportunities for me. It has helped me be more social, feel more confident and make new friends, even start my blog because of it. It think it is so neat you run with your mom too! Great to meet you through the Hop and I hate today is the last day!

    • Same here, running is definitely more than just fitness! I’ve really enjoyed the blog hop too, it’s given me a lot of new ideas, as well as reading some great new blogs.

  • Nice to meet you via the hop! I am also a vegan, going on 6 years now. I’m definitely going to check out your recipes!
    Sounds like you’ve got some amazing places to run and that is so neat.

    • Yay! Another vegan runner 🙂
      I’m lucky to live near some really great and varied places to run.

  • Fun post! Yes I run for many of the same reasons, keep in shape, challenge myself and get out and explore new places, love it! Hello from the hop!

    • Thank you! I’m not sure which reason is my main one, I think it depends on what I’m training for.

  • Sarah Knutson

    I love your post – your village sounds lovely, and I get it about how an increase in driving can lead to a decrease in fitness!

    • Thank you! I never realised how much I walked until I got a car.

  • I totally agree with everything you said about running….meeting new people (on the race course and elsewhere), winning for yourself, and inspiring others to run as well. Bravo!!!!! Great to meet you through the Hop 😉

    • I’m always chatting to people on the race course, although I’ll admit that they usually start the conversation. I find running a very friendly sport.

  • Rachael

    I love that you say “I get to win” so many people feel disappointed in themselves if they don’t actually win so when I see someone that participates in a sport of any kind because they truly LOVE it my heart sings! Going from city life to village life can definitely be tricky. I used to live in a pretty walkable town, but now we have to drive everywhere so I can totally relate to feeling the lack of exercise when you’re constantly driving! Congrats on getting your parents in on running with you! That alone is an accomplishment!

    • Thank you! I’d be very surprised if I ever won a race, but I love how I can win for me.
      I really love running with my parents, I just don’t get to do it as much as I would like.

  • Pascal Brugman

    Hello Nicola,

    nice to run about your Running adventures and that you like being in the nature.
    Do you live near London?

    Im not vegan but i watch what i eat.
    But you read already my blog about my chickens .
    Greetings from germany
    http://pascalbrugman.wordpress.com

    • Yes, I’m near London and have done some running in the parks there. I’d quite like to do one of the Thames path races too.

  • How wonderful that you run with your parents! We run races with our son who’s 8 and I hope to continue that into his adulthood too. You’re so lucky to live in England, it’s beautiful there. I haven’t been in years but we want to take a family trip there when my son is older. Great to meet you through Grow Your Blog!

    • That’s great that your 8 year old runs with you, I hope he carries on running with you as he gets older.
      There are so many places in England I’ve not been to yet, where did you go to when you were here?

  • Hello from the blog hop! I agree with you on all of the reasons you run. How great your parents started running as well. Mine are totally sedentary. I wish they’d even take a walk! I lived in Birmingham, England for a few years. I loved visiting London and wish I’d have done the London Marathon then.

    • I’ve only been to Birmingham twice and one of them was for my first half marathon! I was really tempted to put my name in the ballot for the London marathon this year but didn’t in the end.

  • Love your story! I think getting out and exploring while running is one of the best parts. Like you said, take the gap in the hedge and see where it takes you, you never know what hidden treasures and beauty you may find, right!
    So fun that when you started running your Mum decided to take it up too, that is awesome!
    Love the dance group, I bet that was so fun!!!!
    I love that you race for yourself and win for yourself, That is one of the best points of running! So great to get to know you better!

    • There are so many footpaths and trails to explore. Sometimes they are so overgrown I feel like I’m the only one who ever goes down them! But you get to see some wonderful views and I’ve definitely seen some hidden treasures!
      The dance group was really fun. Even though I’m not dancing with them any more I still get to do the social side, which is fantastic.

  • Kristen K.

    Love this! I’m a big fan of running in nature and exploring new places on the run so I love that we have that in common. And I’m right there with you – I run to compete against myself and get stronger!

    • Running in nature is the best part. I do use the treadmill, it’s great for speed sessions, but I couldn’t imagine only ever running indoors. Even running on the streets you get to see new things.

  • I re-started running as a part of knee rehab and have falling in love with. I love the me time as well as the many runner friends that I have met along the way.

    Good job on your 5kk time!

    • Me time is another reason to run. It’s great being out running and not having to think of anything, just enjoy the run and see where it takes you.
      I hope your knee is all sorted now.

  • I started running just to see if I could…and I ended up surprising myself! Now I love it and love that runner’s high I get from a new PR!

    • It was surprising how quickly I found I liked running and that I really wanted to carry on with it. Getting a new PR is a fantastic feeling.

  • Cynsspace

    I hear you with the driving. I lived in Toronto, Canada and took transit everywhere. There was no reason to spend money on a car. Once we moved out to the burbs, I had to get my license. The driving examiner did a double take when he saw two car seats in the back seat!
    Working towards a faster time and seeing that happen is so rewarding. Way to go! You have some lovely areas to run in.

    • Yay for another late learner. I’m really glad I learnt to drive, it makes things easier and I get to discover new places to run.

  • First of all, sorry I got to your blog late! The last couple of days a work were a bit manic, and I fell behind. BUT I’m here from the blog hop, and I love your intro. So cool that you were in a dance troupe! It’s awesome you get to run with both of your parents! And I’m going to visit the UK next spring and I can hardly wait to do some running/exploring. I was in the UK twice – at ages 7 and 8 – so it’s kind of like a first visit! Look forward to reading more about your running!!

    • Visiting as an adult will be very different from visiting as a child. Do you have any plans yet of where you are going?

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