For me, exercise isn’t just churning at the hamster wheel. It makes me feel high. It makes my mind clear and focused. It quietens the mindless worries and chatter rolling around in my brain. It chills me out. It gives me energy and makes me feel sparkly and positive.
Don’t get me wrong, I often moan and groan and walk around the flat procrastinating in my gym gear for anything up to an hour before I finally drag myself off to get sweaty… but honestly- once I’m out running or lifting or swimming or yoga-ing, it feels like magic. I wish I could bottle that “Yay this feels so great!” feeling to get me out of the house quicker, every time I drag my feet before an sweat sesh.
Probably the only thing that makes me feel more sparkly and more alive than this in itself, is being with someone else who’s a bit nervous or dubious about the activity we’re doing, and then by the end of it, surprising themselves by achieving something they didn’t think they could.
Because… I’ve yet to see someone finish one of these sessions and feel rubbish. 100% guaranteed, they always look so happy! “That was so great, thank you for making me do that!” they gush. “When can we do that again?!”
I honestly love it. I love giving that experience to someone.
And so- when I won two last minute places for the first Night Colour Run in the Olympic Park, through an Oh My Quad Fitness Magazine competition, I decided to offer the other place to someone who I thought needed a little encouragement and someone to champion in achieving her goals.
That person? My other half’s mum, 66 years young. A regular runner, she’d never done a “proper” race before, even though she’d been talking about it for ages. She was a bit too nervous. She didn’t know which one to do. What more of a memorable experience could she get than a night time run, covered in glowing paint and sparkles, around an iconic park in London?
There were a few (thousand) more people that Sue’s used to on her runs around the Lancashire countryside, that’s for sure. She was a trooper though- quieter than I’ve ever known her before the race (!) and I was a bit nervous myself, wondering if I had forced the poor woman to be in this crowded, loud place when she’d rather be up a nice quiet hill.
We got our race packs, our tshirts and numbers, our lights, our glowing tattoos, and our head bobbles. The head bobbles lasted about 2 seconds into the run- but the glowing sparkles and lights made the whole crowd look pretty spectacular as the sun set and we pounded the streets.
We set off in the third wave- there were way more people than I expected- and for a while Sue was facing those on their way back round the course, being high fived by what I can only imagine was an overwhelming number of people. At one point, she said “I’m just used to doing this on my own really!” and I shoved her to the safety zone so I could do the high fiving and protect her a bit.
This high-fiving was so great though- in so many races people are shoving past, head down, listening to music. Here people were jumping, singing, screaming hello to each other; completely high and happy. It really lives up to its #Happiest5kOnThePlanet hashtag!
Sue was a trooper. Apart from realising at one point she had about 17 tshirts on and having to stop to readdress the clothing issue, she kept up a perfect gentle pace, and got stuck in when we got glowing paint thrown over us at the paint stations.
And when we got to the end? It was pretty dark… and neither of us realised we’d actually crossed the finish line! “Is that IT?!” she said, and I promptly fell about laughing. It was a bit of an anti-climax to end her her first race on- so we agreed to sprint across the park area like two mad-women and have our own finish line celebration, which we did.
Nice one, Sue. You’ve shown women in their sixties that they too, can take on their first race at any stage in their life. I hope you’re dead chuffed with yourself. 5k- easy peasy. 10k next, ay? This is just the beginning!