I recently ran in to a friend of mine from sixth form in a train station in London. We were chatting and catching up, explaining what we were both up to these days, and he said to me “What’s this with all the marathons?! What a complete change in attitude, I can’t believe it!”. Back in sixth form I absolutely hated sport. As a child I was quite active (I did gymnastics until I was 16) but I lost interest in a lot of other sports and in sixth form I was pretty well known for avoiding sport at all costs.
One summer sport option was netball and I’d sit at the side, choosing not to join in and being too embarrassed to actually get involved and play a real game. Another summer option was running. I opted for this and went once but it was so awful I never ever wanted to go again. I couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds and I remember being at the back, my friends having to wait for me to catch up and feeling so awful and unfit. From then on I’d ‘jog’ round the corner to the newsagents Dayve was working in, sit with him stealing chocolate bars from the stock and then ‘jog’ back when it was time to get changed for the next period. It was a running joke about how much I hated sport and how I’d always avoid it.
So, his surprise is probably justified. I couldn’t imagine my life without sport now and it makes me a little sad to think about the amazing sporting opportunities I had throughout school that I just didn’t take advantage of. Full days of track and field events, hockeys and netball leagues, an annual steeplechase run, inter-house swim competitions. Nowadays I’d kill to spend a day like that but at the time it just seemed like one big competition designed exclusively to make me feel inadequate. Too short, too chubby, too slow. I wish I’d seen more to it than that. It’s never too late to start and anyone is capable of getting fitter. Pick your poison – find something you enjoy. It can be anything – running, swimming, cycling, surfing, badminton, climbing, bootcamp, pilates, hiking, diving, dancing, rowing, cross country, skating, sailing…ANYTHING!
Were you a late bloomer or have you always been sporty? Have you ever been put off doing exercise because you felt too inadequate to start? Do you wish you’d discovered sport earlier? Talk to me!