“To”

In September last year I started running.

Well, in the interest of complete accuracy here, I should instead say that in September last year I put on a new pair of running shoes, strapped the leash onto the dog and the earbuds onto me, loaded up a new audiobook, opened my newly-downloaded app, C25k (more about that later), and went out the door into the suburbs.

Some of these things were not new. I’m a mad fan of audiobooks. I’d had the dog a while already, and I was pretty familiar with the streets around me because of a) said dog, b) said audiobooks and c) I’ve always really enjoyed getting out and walking. I’d considered myself pretty fit, really, until the day I tried to run to meet the bus. Ouch.

The “C” in C25k stands for “couch”. As in Couch Potato. Not exactly me…not EXACTLY…but, well, you know. There was that time I tried to run for the bus…

The 5k in the app’s title is a little more obvious. Five kilometres. Running five kilometres, that is. This app’s purpose is in that little number, 2. Or “to”. Small word, hey. Big meaning. This app promised to take me from the couch, to running five kilometres. In three months. With my dog. In the suburbs. Before work. While listening to my audiobook. In half-hour sessions three times a week.

Yes, if you’ve ever wanted to get more exercise, motivation to run, anything like that, you should get this app. (No, they’re not paying me to say that. I got it for free from the app store…I think. Or it might have been $2.99 or something. I don’t remember any more.) It basically gets you walking, with little bits of running in between, and very gradually increases the amounts you run, until you’re running the whole way. It’s called “interval training”, apparently, and it works!

Anyway. This is not an advertorial. This is actually about what happened next.

So I ran my first 5k. Sometime around January, I think. I’d taken a whole lot of breaks. Oh BOY was I proud! And sometime around that same period one of my dear friends said “I go out running twice a week with some other friends. You should join us”, and I did.

I was a bit nervous. They ran 6k or 8k twice a week, and I’d only ran a 5k. But, my friend said, “if you can run five then you can run seven”. The first few weeks were hard. Now…not so much (although there are some days…). And my friend also said “if you can run seven, then you can run ten”, and now I’ve completed my first 10k run, too. I’m still smiling about that.

But even THAT’S not the cool bit…

The cool bit is this: and I’m sure it’s because it’s running that I’ve taken up, running in particular, as opposed to, say, billiards, or professional wrestling (then people would just nod their heads politely and say “ohhhh. Good for you.”). But the cool thing that’s happened is that people, about once a month, come up to me now and say “you’ve inspired me so much I’ve started running too”. Seriously.

It’s that little word, “to”.

People saw me as not-a-runner, and now they see me as a runner (a 10k runner!) and the biggest take-away they get from that is “to”. I wasn’t born a runner. I chose to become one. Working mum. Busy life. Couch. TO. 10k. And the number is growing, and suddenly we’re talking about getting a team together for a big run. TO.gether.

Now I have a growing group of running friends, and, slowly but surely, they’ll grow groups of running friends around them also, as people who see them as “not runners” will see their change to becoming runners.

I’d forgotten the power of witnessing a transformation. I’d forgotten how inspirational change can be. And maybe until now I had no real idea that something little that I’d decided to do for me could have such a powerful, positive flow-on effect to those around me.

Things can change.

Habits can change.

What you are is not necessarily what you’re going to be.

Where are YOU going TO?