Tales of New Runners

Gemma Hale

Gemma Hale I started what I call proper running in September 1999 (i.e. a regular run 2-3+ times a week), though I had forced myself out for occasional runs before this (I hadn't been converted at this point!). One of the greatest things about starting virtually from scratch was the huge improvement I saw in my running: getting faster in my training runs and knocking many minutes off my race times.

I did my first marathon, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Then I started getting injured. I wasn't running very well, I seemed to be getting slower. My motivation to get out and run started disappearing and I started getting more and more upset. I had had this idea that I was going to keep improving and get faster and faster, until I wasn't one of the 'slow' ones at the back. Over a period of weeks, I stopped enjoying running. Then through injury I was forced to stop running for about 3 weeks. Then I started to miss being able to get out and tun. I came to the startling realisation (and this may seem obvious, but it is not something I find easy to accept) that it didn't matter how anyone else was running, and that I wasn't as fast as other people. (I have to say it can be one of the most frustrating things, knowing you are putting in the training, but still people still run faster than you who have previously done very little running). As long as I did my best and enjoyed it, that was the most important thing. I remember how much I enjoyed those beginning runs and the satisfaction I felt.

I now run 'Gemma' pace. Sometimes it's fast (for me), sometimes it's slow, but I look forward to each run! If am disappointed with a run, it is because I haven't done my best, and not because everyone else beat me. for me), sometimes it's slow, but I look forward to each run! If am disappointed with a run, it is because I haven't done my best, and not because everyone else beat me.

Kirsten Huesch

Kirsten When I first joined the Serpentine Running Club, my big goal was to run my very first half marathon. I had always been quite adamant that I would never ever run a full marathon and wasn’t even that sure if I really enjoyed running all that much…and indeed after that first race, I took a break of pretty much a year and a half during which I used any excuse in the book not to run regularly.

I am glad to say that the Serpie friends I made in my first attempt of becoming a runner stayed in touch and it was my friend Mary who encouraged me in last summer to come along to Davos, Switzerland with a few other Serpies. I joined in the fun and watched those who were running the races there. What can I say? I became so inspired that I re-joined the club shortly after and have since run three half marathons and have to my amazement completed the London Marathon in April 2003.

My next “big” venture is to run the Davos 30km race this July, help organise the Club trip there and then run the Berlin Marathon later this year. I guess I’m hooked! Not only has running become an important part of my life but I have also made some very good like-minded friends at the Club. If you are looking for a bunch of fun people to run and socialise with, then this is the place to be!

Amanda Clark

After my first run with the Serpentine Running Club's Starter Group, I think I was in technically in shock. It wasn’t like jumping in at the deep end of a swimming pool; it was more like being dropped by helicopter into the North Sea.

I went back the following Wednesday. I think Bev was pleased that I came back the second week. Bev had been encouraging and supportive looking after me as I "ran" and walked the course. Was I in danger of being the club joke, the female who turned up without running before? At that point I didn't even have proper running shoes, and thought that the club would have to re-define the meaning of beginner.

Two months on, I have joined the club, become a “Serpie” and “run” on a Saturday and a Wednesday. I’m enjoying myself and I look forward to the runs. Running isn’t easy, it’s hard work, and at times I think this is too extreme and I am in over my head.

However, this is something just for me and it is great to push ones self and to see improvement. Bev, Sue and John are already talking to the Starter Group about running in the Club Handicap. The club members are very friendly and encouraging, and I’m looking forward to discovering the social side to running, when I get know everybody better in the pub on Wednesday nights.

Thank you Serpies. I feel as if I have discovered a wonderful big secret – I have – it’s called running.

Ian Oliver

I am 47 and, despite the cycling, I am about 12kg overweight. To be honest, taking up running again was harder than I expected. Cycling – and I can sustain very long distances – is great for CV fitness but only exercises some of your muscles, and, unless you climb hills, it is forgiving of excess weight. However, in just over four weeks from starting, I have brought my speed over 4km to 12kmph and have just completed my first weekly "long, slow run" , comfortably managing 7km in 41 minutes.

I have found running hard on the knees and hard on the hamstring and hip muscles that you don't use much cycling. I also had to stop for a week with a minor knee injury after being too ambitious too soon. I guess the moral is, even if you're not starting as a couch potato, take it slowly at first!"

Elaine Crew

The first time I attended the Serpentine Running Club at the beginning of February, was the first time I had ever run (apart from the two times I had attempted and failed the bleep test!) The following day it was a struggle for me to walk, go down stairs, basically do anything lady-like without looking like I had done myself some serious damage. I even staggered onto the tube only to have some kind gentleman offer me his seat....embarrassing or what?

A month on and my running has improved ever so slightly, but still the same dedicated people that had left an hour earlier than me sprint past me back to the Seymour Leisure Centre. Whilst limping back I turned to Bev and asked "will I ever got to that stage?" Bev assured me that I will and also said that running is a bit like a drug – you can't help but get addicted to it. I can't wait till I am addicted!

Helen James

I never thought I would be running a marathon within a year of actually starting to run. Last March, after a friend mentioned the Serpentine Running Club, I started one Wednesday night just to keep fit. My first venture was struggling around Hyde Park on the short run, about 4 miles. I then progressed to 3 Parks, and I completed the seven miles in absolute jubilation.

My twice weekly run then always remained the same length until early this year when I teamed up with an amazing group of Serpies who wanted to run a little further and eventually do a marathon. Well that was it! Every Wednesday night I managed to increase my mileage, with a new personal record every time, until one night I managed 20 miles – wow!

How could I not do a marathon now? I applied for the Paris marathon and before I knew it I was crossing the finishing line, totally bewildered. I managed to have so much fun because of the brilliant support along the way. Now I am looking forward to so many races!

Pat Courtney

I can honestly say that the Paris marathon was one of my best life experiences to date. As a first time marathon runner I did not really know what to expect – whether I would get massive stomach cramps half way round or collapse of exhaustion. I need not have worried. I did the marathon in five and a half hours without stopping and the sense of achievement for me was being able to run for that length of time non-stop, not completing it in a certain amount of time.

The atmosphere was fantastic – running through the streets of Paris, the music playing in the background, the locals cheering you on and the little kids at the sides of the street holding out their hands to get the high fives from the passing runners. It is an experience I will never forget.