After moving back home for a year following university, I returned to London (aged 25). With a job in West London, I moved to Chiswick. I enjoyed being close to the Thames and also not too far from my family home, in Surrey.
My work was only about a 25 minute walk from my house, if that. And on the way there, was my gym. Wherever I move to, finding a gym used to be the most important thing but now running’s become such a big part of my life (and if Covid19 has taught me anything) maybe I will start putting less pressure on this in future.
I’ve always been one to exercise first thing, even if it means getting up early. Most days I would be up at 6am, down a cup of tea and shuffle/plod to the gym – if it was raining I would drive. I then started running home from work occasionally. It was only a couple of kilometres but I would loop around, taking it up to 5k – I now had a super cool Polar sports watch to track my distance. Then, one morning, I felt like running. Properly. Not inside on a treadmill. So I did. I left my stuff in the gym locker and ran along the river, then back on myself when I started to feel tired – I think it was about 8k all together. I had no idea of pacing, but it felt good!
I then found out it was roughly a 10k loop over the next bridge and down the other side. So slowly, I increased my distance and soon enough I was running 10k a couple of times a week – this quickly became 12k. It felt good, really good.
With years running on the treadmill, slowly getting up to 5k, I think I had formed a good basic fitness for running. I can’t say I ever remember it feeling too hard when I began pounding the pavements – the treadmill’s a different story.
Within seven months, I’d ditched the job in Chiswick and was now working in North London. After one day commuting on the tube, I realised I was not a tube commuter girl – it also took so long. My housemate offered me her bike, so I gave it ago. It was roughly 10.5 miles each way and I found it a much more pleasant mode of travel.
That’s when I started noticing people bobbing along next to me, with these ‘special running packs’ – they were commuting too, just by foot. Of course, I then decided my next challenge should be running to work.
I got myself a running bag off Amazon – I realised recently it was actually Salomon (a brand I regularly use now). I packed it up with everything I needed, gave myself ample time – so that even if I walked some I wouldn’t be late for work – and set off. Running in London, or even cycling through London first thing in the morning is one of my favourite things to do; meandering through the quiet streets, which are usually bustling with people.
“MUM, DAD, I MADE IT!”
It felt euphoric. I was pumped, filled with adrenaline. I walked into the office that day (post shower), with a huge smile on my face. My small work team wasn’t big into running, but my boss has always been into fitness and kindly humoured me.
Quite soon after, I saw an event on Eventbrite, hosted by Never Stop London (a running crew in London, affiliated with The North Face). Each month, a group of people would get a (free) coach out of London and head on a trail run of 16km. I had no idea what a trail run was really, but it sounded fun; a day out of London, meeting new people, running, oh and finishing in a pub with beers and food – sign me up!