My Lock Down Running Story

Libby Cotter

I have always loved sport, talking about it, watching it and playing it. But if anyone ever mentioned running I would think of anyway not to be involved. When I was younger I feel running was the thing I believed I had to do to be ‘fit’ but I just hated it. I’d run 30 seconds up the street and get stitch, bored and just give up. This continued throughout my teenage and adult life and I come to terms with that I will never be a runner.

 Through work I have attended park runs but would find myself putting myself to volunteer as I it was a way to get out of running. The one I couldn’t get out of was Leeds 10k last July. I laughed at the thought of me even considering 10k, but the message we were supporting was something I was very passionate about there was no way I could miss out. When I think back to this experience I remember within the first couple of minutes thinking ‘what have I done’. We got through it and although I loved the experience that wasn’t because of the running but the company I was with and the amazing support from people. So still no turning point… I hadn’t caught this so called ‘running bug’

I agreed to support the first upcoming session of our couch to 5k due to start in March with Leeds Girls Can. Again this was something that just did not excite me. Then it happened… Lockdown.

When lockdown happened so many thoughts were going through my head. I go to the gym 5 times a week, what am I going to do? I can’t go climbing anymore, how am I going to use exercise as an escape? And then Leeds Girls Can project Lead Louise Walker and Leeds Girls Can Ambassador Danni Penny suggested we start couch to 5k but complete it virtually together, using an app to video call whilst we run. Nothing had changed at this point on my opinion of running, but surely it’s better than nothing?

Week 1 I was nervous, I like to be good at stuff and was so conscious that I wouldn’t even be able to run for 60 seconds. But I did it! Then week two came along and I started to see it as a bit of a challenge I could focus on, I still didn’t enjoy the running but I really enjoyed the video calls so why not? I started off by running laps of my local park, I found the running boring and kept suffering with stitch, in my head there was no chance I was going to complete the programme. But then in week 3 something switched. I had a really bad day mentally, I was feeling anxious and uneasy and it just so happened to fall on my running day. The moment I started running every worry started to disappear. It was the first time I had ever felt the ‘power of running’ I came home feeling positive, energised, almost like it was a completely new day. This is the moment I started to really look forward to our runs.

We are on our last run of week 5 now and I can honestly finally say after years of trying I think I have the running bug. I suppose I have always had other outlets such as the gym, climbing and basketball so I have always compared and never really given running a real chance. But now it is what’s caring me through this difficult time. It really is a mental battle and without the support off my fellow video call runners I may have given up, but I am so glad I didn’t! Now I reflect on my journey so far and I see it almost like a box set that people recommend but say you have to stick at it to appreciate the brilliance. I can now say running makes me feel great, I feel mentally strong, physically challenged and excited to see how far I can go.


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