I overcame my irrational fear of joining an actual running club a couple of months ago.  I pulled on my big girl non-see-through pants and went along to my first track session.  I feel like a bit of an idiot (no change there) admitting that I was scared to join a running club because I did not want to call myself a runner.  I started off in a group who were mostly couch to 5k graduates wanting to try their first ½ marathon.  They were all so lovely and really welcoming.  They had all worked hard to get to where they were and had dedicated themselves to achieving their own personal goals.  They were proud to call themselves runners and I was in total admiration of them.

It really is stupid because I run.  I run on the road, I run on trails, I run through mud pits and I’ve even run for 24 hrs.  I run in the sun, in the rain, in the snow, through sand and sometimes yes even a teeny bit I actually find myself quite liking it (don’t tell anyone I said that) so why on earth do I have this weird irrational thing about being called a runner?  I have all the bloody shit that I see runners have; the GPS watches, the bone conductor headphones so I can hear cars and avoid getting squished on country roads, the compression socks, a million trainers for different conditions, hydration packs, head torches, the reflective, breathable, waterproof, windproof jacket that also packs up to the size of an orange that costs a squillion pounds and most importantly I have a Strava account (I have never actually put anything on it but I still have one so there!) .  You know the saying, ‘all the gear and no idea’?  That’s me!  Ha!  The story of my flipping life!

I was in a bookshop with The Husband and Little Beastie at the weekend and I came across ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’ and I had to buy it for her.  Little Beastie is an avid reader much like me when I was her age.  She loves to read factual books as well as fiction, coming out with these brilliant ‘did you know…?’ facts at totally random times.  She’s like this very knowledge thirsty little sponge with glasses n pigtails so I wanted her to read about the women who have achieved extraordinary things, I wanted her to be inspired, to be proud and aspire to greatness.  It actually makes me a little bit emotional even talking about it.  These people have shaped the world in which we live in today and are the kind of role models, I feel everyone should look up to.  Do you want to know the first thing that came out of my mouth?  ‘Oh gawd!  People are going to think I’m wanting to turn her into some sort of left-wing feminist!’  SERIOUSLY WHAT THE F@*K IS WRONG WITH ME?!!!!

Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

It made me seriously evaluate what the hell was up with my brain and then I realised that it was the label of being a runner, the label of being a feminist, the label of being a mummy type, etc. that scared the absolute crap out of me.  As a grown-ass woman in my mid 30’s, I was still that idiotic teenager who was rebelling against a label because I’m totally like an individual who transcends beyond the labels and conformity that society and the government try and impose on me! Maaaan!  Basically speaking, I was sh*t scared of being called something that others find meaningful just in case I royally f*cked it up and was then labelled as just that.  Back to that ridiculous bullsh*t about not wanting to offend people, not wanting to let them down, about Fear of Failure.  GAAAAH!   At the tender age of 36 ½, I’ve finally come to the realisation that actually the only person I’m letting down and offending is my flipping self!  I’m trying to teach my Little Beastie that it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks.  Be a good person, an example of what you’d like to follow and you can’t go far wrong.  It’s amazing what having a person who looks up to you does for your mindset.  Beastie is currently doing gymnastics and though she loves it, she started later so isn’t quite as co-ordinated with some gymnastic moves as others.  She was very scared of doing cartwheels for a while because she was worried about falling on her head and hurting herself but not once did she say she was worried about others laughing at her for not being able to do it which is really important.  She goes to gymnastics once a week and is always in the gym when the squad’s train and these kids train 3 times a week for hours at a time but Beastie still calls herself a gymnast when amongst them.  She has dance classes twice a week and calls herself a dancer.  She has swimming class once a week so she calls herself a swimmer.  She Does, therefore She Is.  Simple really. I want to be a good example for her and failing to be that is far worse than someone telling me I’m not enough of a feminist or enough of a runner any day so, cut to me in slow-mo with the wind in my hair with a defiant, triumphant look on my face breaking free from the label shackles… Yeah right.  Reality would be that the wind whips my hair in my face so hard I close my eyes and recoil which causes me to trip over the representative shackles and go flying head first into a hedge in front of a whole heap of people.  The difference between me as a teenager and me now is that rather than get angry and feel ashamed, I’d do the only thing a mature and experienced woman like myself would do.  I’d jump up, put my arms out gymnast style and wait for my applause.

I may not be burning my bra or growing my armpit hairs (I find it very itchy actually) and I may quite happily refer to myself as a girl instead of a woman (I definitely hit like one) but that doesn’t mean I won’t stand up for myself, my daughter and other females when I feel that injustice is being done.  Heck, I believe in equality for both males and females so yes, I am a feminist.  I’m not on the PTA committee, I YouTube’d a million videos of how to do sodding ballet plaits and still had to get someone else to do them cause I couldn’t get them right, I work ridiculous hours so couldn’t make mid-week play dates and attend Water Babies, but I am rearing a Little Beastie so yes, I am a Mummy type.  Last but not least, I don’t even pretend to want to run every single day (I cheated on a run 5k every day in June by counting a 110km ultra in the numbers), I refuse to put anything on Strava (don’t want people to see just how much I really do wing it) but I have days when I put trainers on as well as the jacket that cost a squillion pounds, plug in my fancy headphones, put one foot in front of the other and be an actual real life Runner.

Big Love n Squishy Hugs,

TP x