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September 11, 2017

‘Did we just become best friends?!’ 

What happens when you talk so much about your love of running and the freedom it gives you that it inspires someone else to give it a go?

When I started out my Instagram running account – it was really a visual diary, what could I accomplish? What could I achieve in a few months?

I didn’t read books or blogs, I didn’t know about negative splits, pace or recovery runs…

I borrowed some old shorts from the husband and chucked on an old University hockey shirt paired with an old tatty pair of trainers and just got outside. I took photos for myself, and posted them on Instagram – and slowly Instagram runners started to inspire me!

I had never imagined that my love of running would be anything other than doing the odd 10k, maybe even a half marathon – or that I would actually go on to inspire people to get out and have a run!

It feels strange that I have had people contact me to say I have inspired them to give running a go, when really I am just an average runner, trying my best – kind of winging it – but loving it at the same time.

I am not the best runner – but to know that me just getting out there and talking about running and its benefits has made others decide to try it really is pretty awesome!

I remember reading a quote “How do you know if someone ran a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” And after signing up to my first marathon in April this year – it’s true, it did become a big and important part of my life, so much so that you honestly can’t help talking about it, to friends, partners, family, work colleagues – even the dog!

I think signing up for the Marathon was the motivation I needed to kick start something in myself, to almost force me to take control and get fit.

I used to talk to a colleague of mine about how discovering running had made me feel free, it was cheaper than the gym and I was enjoying being outside. At the same time she was planning to quit the gym and had thought about running but hadn’t the motivation to try it alone… so then that’s where it began.

She would join me on my Friday lunch runs and do a run on her own at home once/twice a week - we are very fortunate in that there is quite a nice route down the Thames and back to work, so we embarked on our first run together. I know for her the first few times were just getting her back into the swing of running outside and not on the ‘dreadmill’, but it became a great way for us to catch up on a lunchtime.

Here I was thinking I was meant to be a solo runner, enjoying the opportunity to disconnect with the world, not competing with anyone, listening to my body… but now I can see the benefits of both and really there is something so motivating about helping someone else start their running journey.

I think we managed about 3 months or so of weekly lunchtime runs together, before she left for pastures new. To ensure we would make time to meet up and also give her a running focus we booked up to a event at the Velopark in Stratford which took place on the 1st July.  She managed a PB at this run, and luckily we remained friends whilst I annoyingly chatted at her the whole way round, one of the nicest things to hear was her say that if it wasn’t for me initially she wouldn’t have got into running again. We are now looking for our next 10k to run together and make it even faster!

I’ve heard people say running is one of those things that you either get, or you don’t!

If you don’t get it, but you want to try it, buddy up – find someone else to try it with, go to a local running club, try park run – or ask a friend or family to do couch to 5k.

I’ve signed my step-dad up to a 5k race in December to give him something to work towards – making exercise part of a social event really does makes it easier to stay motivated.

If someone is joining you it’s much harder to resist and stay home under the duvet with a pack of hobnobs!

Social media has also played a big part in creating a fantastic running community for me – yes I may only meet a handful of the people I follow, but each and every one of those people are quick to support, inspire and push you to the next challenge.

I wasn’t even going to sign up to the Richmond Marathon, but another first time marathon runner I met through Instagram suggested it might be fun to do another one… fun!?!

My advice, don’t ever feel intimidated by any other runners, whether you are running or just chatting about running. Everyone has been at the ‘deer in headlights faze’, and all runners genuinely want to get others out motivated and enjoying it too! Those crazy endorphins are great!!

At the end of the day what have you got to lose?

If you run alone you get the benefits of peace and quiet… but if you run with a friend you get the motivation to keep going, a reason to get out, catch up on the day’s events whilst burning enough calories to enjoy a post run coffee and cake! Surely its win win for everyone!?

Follow me, Louise Duncan, on Instagram @louloubelou_marathon

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