When I didn’t start running

I moved to London in 2006 and, at the time, the only people I knew who lived here were my flatmate and a soon-to-be ex boyfriend. 

I wanted to start running and I wanted to meet people. I remember looking in Loot, the free classifieds paper where you found new flats, old bikes and pretty much anything else. There was an advert for a walking group that met each week in Ealing where I lived. I wanted to find a running group but this was the closest there was (Ealing Eagles hadn’t been founded yet). I couldn’t run, so I thought maybe this would be a good idea. 

13 years ago we didn’t have the internet at our fingertips. Phones were just starting to be able to browse very basic websites very slowly. Twitter didn’t exist and Facebook wasn’t a word I’d ever used. There was a phone number for more information about the group or the invitation to just turn up at the park on a Monday evening and join them. 

Picking up the phone was far too scary. So every week I told myself that I’d put on some trainers and turn up at the park. If I didn’t feel comfortable I’d just keep on walking past the group of people assembled.

Every Sunday I told myself I’d go, and every Monday I’d sit on the sofa instead. 

I know how scary it can be to take that first step because it took me a long time to make it. Over the years I’ve tried to use my blog and my social media to try to reassure runners that my running groups are a friendly, non-intimidating place for absolute beginners to start running. 

I ask people to commit in advance because, well I’ll be honest it makes it a lot easier for me to administer that way, but also because I know that if there’d been a link to click from Loot I’d have been more likely to turn up. 

I get a lot of emails from people asking questions about my running groups, and I’m always happy to answer them. And I know that many of the people who signed up to my mailing list a couple of years ago may decide that this year is their time. I was on a mailing list for a stand up comedy course for eight years before I finally did it. 

I moved to London in 2004. I looked at that advert for weeks. I finally started running in 2008. So I know how it feels to be nervous to start something new, but I know how it feels on the other side too.