Having recently completed the Vitality London Half Marathon to raise funds for Women in Sport, Cath Giles provides her latest update.
“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” Alan Watts 2016
When it came to waiting on the start line at Wembley my anxiety began to set in: ‘Did I eat enough?’, ‘Have I had enough water?’, ‘Should I go to the toilet again?’, ‘Have I stretched enough?’, ‘What if my time is really slow?’, ‘What if I can’t make it to the finish line?’ ‘Will I have to give back the sponsor money?’.
When I first decided to raise money for Women in Sport I thought it would be an arduous task to get people to donate. I decided to take a different approach and instead of devising a generic, interminable email, I wanted to try and set a precedent in the hope of making the figures jump out. I decided to utilise GoPro footage I had when I went running in France with my husband and edited a short promotional video containing statistics on inequities women in sport face:
“Just one in ten girls meet the official guidelines for physical activity, one in ten. That’s just one in ten of our: sisters, daughters, grand-daughters, nieces, cousins or friends not receiving the physical and mental benefits that being active brings.” (Women in Sport, 2016)
Although it was an onerous task I am so glad I did it. Within a few weeks I had exceeded my target of £250, received three anonymous donations and numerous messages from female relatives and friends who said they had felt inspired to go out running. The video was a great coup that went above and beyond what I’d hoped for.
Never the less, when it came to the race day the foreboding of meeting expectations set in. I had recently started a new job that had thrown my routine off, meaning I couldn’t get out to train as much and I’d not long gotten over having the flu. So to say the least, I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been. However as I began to get into my stride, I looked around at those who were running with me. I couldn’t help but feel immense pride in the fact that we had all made a choice to challenge ourselves.
In reality, running is a laborious, formidable task that pushes you to the extreme. Whenever I recommend running the response is usually: ‘I’m not a runner’. There is this misconception that you have to be the best or fastest runner in order to run.
Ultimately, we are all naturally born to move. In the end what stops you from exercising is your mind-set. For me running is about being outside and getting into a place where I can marshal my thoughts, enabling me to regain a sense of reality. So when I think back to the half-marathon, I can’t help think about the type of people who were there. When I say type I mean, size, ability, race and gender because at the end of the day it comes down to the choice and the mind-set to say: ‘I want to give this a go’.
I spent many a year procrastinating, dreaming of being the type of person who took control of their life and I became tired of waking up imagining being a particular person.
It’s an incredible feeling to go to bed feeling satisfied and instead of asking ‘What if?’ I now say ‘What’s next?’…