The HR Juggler

Defining Limitations

Posted on: July 12, 2012

I’m not a runner. I don’t enjoy running. I never run for pleasure, only out of sheer necessity to catch the train when I am late leaving work.

Except, somewhere in the midst of training for the moonwalk, I became attracted to the idea of maintaining and improving my new-found fitness and I started to think the previously unthinkable, that I could perhaps learn to love running. And during May, whilst I was extending my training walks to 16, 18, 20 miles and starting to understand the power of saying yes, I agreed to run a half marathon with some fantastic work colleagues in October in aid of Tommy’s.

I am struggling to convey the enormity of the challenge to me at that point – I knew that I couldn’t run even half a mile without stopping and I wasn’t willing to risk my already strained muscles by starting to train for running before I had completed the moonwalk and rested properly. So it wasn’t until the end of June that I started to do my first short runs and could put my determination and blind faith to any sort of test. It’s not easy learning to run, but I had at least developed some good stamina and was able to run for five minutes and walk for one minute over three miles during my first foray into running.

I’ve been going out for a run three times a week and I’m starting to reap the benefits – tomorrow I will be running 25 minutes without stopping, walking for a minute and then running a further 25 minutes. If I stick to my training plan (which I will!) in another week I will be running for 45 minutes, walking for 1 minute and running for a further 20 minutes. My body is in training and my mind is too…I know I can do this now and I’m starting to enjoy it. I love the fact that I am doing something that I thought I couldn’t, pushing against my own perceived limits and that I have this huge and daunting challenge to aim for.

It turns out, as ever, that the only real limitations are in my own head.

I am becoming a runner. I enjoy running and I will keep running for pleasure and necessity. If I can do it, so can you!

I do have a sponsorship page, but I know many of you have already sponsored me for the moonwalk, for which I am already hugely grateful. I’d love to hear any great fundraising ideas that you may have and will keep you posted with how I get on 🙂

22 Responses to "Defining Limitations"

Very Well Done – Running terrifies me too – I am facing my own challenge of the Milton Keynes Moo Walk (10 miles from midnight this Sunday) – not the same scale but I think I will move on to bigger challenges just as you have done.

Good luck to you for your challenge! I loved doing the moonwalk and there was a great training plan for both that and the half-moon (13 miles). I have used an ‘run 10k’ app on my iphone to help me learn to run – starts with 4 and a half mins walking, 30 secs running and builds you up from there,

well done Ali, keep on running! 🙂

Thank you…may be roping you in to help with fundraising activities 🙂

Hey … I have a fundraising idea for you. As you are a very determined lady when you set your mind to something (I don’t think my 1/2 marathon training resembled your plan that you are describing! But if I can do it, I am sure you can too!). How about organising a social run, coffee and cake event for friends sometime late summer? People pay a nominal amount to come along (all running events cost £) – and at the end they can socialise – doesn’t have to be far – maybe 2 short distances of 3k and 5k – you never know you may inspire other women to try something new and stretch their boundaries. I’ll help you organise and even make cakes for the end! If it sounds interesting then happy to explore further … literally just thought of it. I think ‘getting out of your comfort zone’is the ‘new black’. P xx

Haha…I conclude that I over-compensateon the early training through sheer terror that I will never otherwise achieve the distance.

I LOVE this idea, although lots of the people I know might prefer the cake bit to the running/walking 🙂

Will definitely be picking your brains on this one and would love your help with it.

Well done! I too have become a new-found lover of running. 4 years ago I started from nothing, with some mummy friends. Main reason: to get fit, secondary (almost as important) reason: to have some uninterrupted conversation. It got us all started and I began to love it. Now, 4 yrs on, though my mummy friends and I all work different hours, I have learnt to run on my own (!?) … And I couldn’t be without it: best stress reliever there is – and oh! What a great feeling when you know you’ve run fast! Keep it up x

Thanks so much for your support and encouragement

This is a brilliant piece. However, you will find that when you move on to your first running marathon that not all limitations are in your head. In much the same way that a car with no petrol will not move no matter how determined it’s driver, your body can run short of fuel and at that point you become a determined runner whose legs don’t work. But that, in itself, is inspirational. Discovering and working to alter your limitations is ultimately more rewarding than coming to believe that you don’t have any. Good luck and see you on the starting line!

Gosh…a whole marathon…yes you’re right, that would be a whole different challenge and one that you can’t just push through with on sheer determination alone. I love the point you make about discovering and working to alter your limitations. Thank you!

Great post Alison. Laurie wrote a good one on exercise this week here’s the link in case you and your readers are interested:

I took to running in the new year as a way of getting in some useful exercise in a shortish period of time (well compared to a three hour bike ride at least!). I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, I wrote something about it here:

I’m not currently in a position to run and having enjoyed it more than I thought, I miss it more than I thought I would too. I hope to be back soon.

So, I’m delighted to read of your next challenge, it’s very motivating. Good luck! 🙂

I missed Laurie’s post – brilliant and thanks for pointing it out.

I remember your post well (and being very impressed!) and like you, I’ve been getting out in the fresh air too, rain or shine.

Thanks for your kind comments

You continue to amaze me; not only because of the amount of will power and drive you have, but also by how you manage to fit everything in! You’re a fab role model for us working Mamas.

I have mentioned to you that I will never run. I have tried. I won’t say I can’t run as we know that’s rubbish. I can do it, if I put my mind to it like you have. I think my problem is that I want quick results. I want to go out there on day one, run at a good pace for half an hour….. and then I want my jeans to fit again when I get home! :-).

Hearing how you started gently and the quick progression you have made, and relating to the Moonwalk experience and the feeling of not wanting that training to go to waste…… hmmm, maybe, just maybe!!!

S xx

I did keel over a little when I read your comment – wow!!!

Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I tend to run a couple of evenings a week (Sunday and Tuesday mostly) and then on Friday mornings, when the girls are at school. I guess I’ll shift to 3 evenings in the summer holidays…but I do find that I like running in the evening better. The great thing about running after training for the moonwalk is that even if you’re slow like me, its so much quicker than walking!

I used two things – mostly the ‘run 10k’ app which I adjusted to suit me for the early few runs. It beeps when you should walk and then again when you run. Also there is a great book called ‘Running Made Easy’ by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson, which is really accessible, aimed at beginners and very inspiring.

Keep me posted, lady!!

Awesome Alison. So many people say ‘I can’t…’ when they’ve never tried it. And I love the book sister sometimes calls me “Flora How-To” and takes me mickey because I’ve always bought books on new interests. Eg when I got into cycling I bought a how to repair my bike book. That’s part of the fun for me though.
Good luck with the running!

Fantastic achievement Alison, well done and great to see how changing your mindset can have such a powerful effect.
I love running, it gets me out, re-energises me, am more mindful, less stressed, enables me to eat what I want and those endorphins make me feel good…
One of my most successful fundraising events is hosting a quiz night. Find a hall, organise a date, get some helpers, put on some food that you can prepare in advance and sell bottles of wine on the day, print some tickets, ask each of your friends / family/ neighbours to organise a table of 8-10, sell tickets before hand, pull together some questions, have heaps of fun…could also include a raffle…You could easily raise £1000 -£3000 this way
Good luck and keep pushing..

Thanks so much Vera…I am finding it very inspiring to receive so much support and encouragement on this. I’ll definitely give the quiz night idea some thought – its a great idea and I’m very impressed by how much you have managed to raise that way.


I was about to offer loads of advice but thought better of it as I could barely see the key board on my iPad over what appears to be my stomach.

More seriously, your approach of just being able to run for a period of time is the perfect way to start. Not distance, not speed just time. Then you can introduce the other parameters.

I started running in 2001 simply because none of my clothes fitted and, as a tight fisted northerner, a pair of running shoes was cheaper than two new suits and a pair of jeans (I am one of those blokes who buys clothes in evenly numbered years whether I need to or not). I went out and ran and walked every day for a week for half an hour then built from there. I was bloody minded about speed and distance not mattering for the first few months. Then I entered the Leeds half marathon and did a few others.

It made me realise that basic fitness, easily lost and excruciatingly hard to regain, is a huge asset. I still run a bit but I soon realised I was able to do other things I had always wanted to do with it, meeting loads of great people in the process. With fitness as an asset you can say yes to any number of things.

Anyway, better jump on the scales, pulling my stomach in, not because it makes me any lighter, but simply so I can see the dial. After that, it’s off to play squash with the kids!

As for fund raising, you’ll find asking me is enough 🙂

Well done with your running! I’m a new runner so know how hard it is. Just managed my first non-stop three miles! Blogs like this are good for my motivation.

That’s awesome! Good luck! I can’t run due to an ankle that is mostly metal (can’t say I’m too disappointed about that), but I’ve been thinking about joining a masters swim team. I’m inspired! Thanks for sharing your journey.

[…] About Defining Limitations […]

[…] minded stubbornness and focus, which I have always had, but had perhaps lain dormant or forgotten. Learning to run and completing my first half marathon has genuinely been quite transformational for me and has given […]

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