As each year comes to a close, we tend to reflect on the highs and lows of the year. For me, ‘graduating’ from NHS England’s Couch to 5K programme has been a definite high. This graduation means that I can now run for 30 minutes at a time. I don’t yet cover the full 5k in that 30 minutes, but I’m getting closer on each run.
I hadn’t expected this momentous event happen in 2018, I’d planned to complete my final C25K run in January 2019. But taking the opportunity for extra runs over the holiday period meant that I finished ahead of schedule, during the last parkrun of the year. This morning, New Year’s Eve 2018, I went for my first run as a C25K graduate. And as I ran I reflected on what graduation means to me.
I’ve graduated in the conventional way more than once before. Over the years, I’ve had an unhealthy addiction to studying. I know this about myself. I’ve graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, a masters, a PGCE (teaching qualification) and a couple of other postgraduate qualifications. And I’m still going. I collect degree certificates like other people collect fridge magnets. The reason? I think the reason is low self-esteem, and the need to be reassured that I am good at something. That I am worth something. No matter how tough things have been in the past, I have drawn strength from study, and from academic achievement. I know that I am lucky to be able to achieve academically, and I have worked hard at it. My graduations mean a lot to me, even if my motivation for achieving them has been confused.
This graduation is also important. It might not have taken years of study, or led to mounting student debt. I didn’t need to spend hundreds of hours sitting at a desk writing; I graduated running next to Minehead beach in glorious winter sunshine. I didn’t need to burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines, and it caused me no stress or anxiety at all. In fact, my running has helped me to manage stress. But what is most significant about this graduation is the fact that I would not, before I began C25K, have ever believed it to be possible.
I never doubted that I would be able to get a degree. But I always doubted that I could run, get fit or sort my weight out. One year ago, I weighed nearly five stone more than I weigh today. I was unfit and my health was suffering. I was tired all the time. Now my life and my health has changed.
Looking forward to 2019, I’m not making New Year’s resolutions. But I am setting targets for the year. Just as I set targets last year. And as I reach these targets, I’ll set new ones. Resolutions shouldn’t just be for one day, or one time of year. We should continue to assess our goals all year round.
My goals for 2019? I plan to build on the improvements to my fitness health and diet. I’ve signed up for RED (run every day) January, a couple of 5k races, and a 10k in April. But that’s just the start.
I’d love to hear about your goals.
Have a happy New Year. Here’s to a successful, healthy 2019!