Ellen Crombie is a runner, blogger and Youth Sports Trust ambassador for the GirlsActive programme. Ellen’s blog, www.teenrunner.co.uk, documents her running exploits and promotes all-things running in a friendly and accessible way. Having started running at the age of 14, Ellen has really displayed the values of #KentGirlsCan by getting involved and giving running a try, and finding she absolutely loves it. Read more about Ellen’s running story, and check out other #KentGirlsCan stories at www.KentSport.org/KentGirlsCan.
I was thirteen when I really started running. My first introduction to the sport had been at a school cross country event where I claimed the girl’s victory after a month of Sunday runs with my mum – and from then on I was hooked. Soon after I joined an athletics club which really was one of the best things I have ever done. Tuesdays and Thursdays will always be the highlight of my week, and there’s nothing better than crossing the line of the race in which you have been working towards all season.
I’m at the point now where I can’t imagine life without running. I know that I’m very lucky to have found a sport that I absolutely love and am half-good at because that doesn’t always happen for everyone. However, I do believe that sometimes you have to have the courage to start something new. Due to my blog, www.teenrunner.co.uk, I receive a multitude of different messages from other teenagers, but one recurring theme that keeps popping up is the issue of starting a sport too late. People are especially worried that there’s no point in taking up a new sport at the age of 15 or 16 because those who have been doing it since the age of 10 are probably miles better and uncatchable. To come at this from a very honest point of view, the first months are hard. Even when I started there were many people ahead of me and only after a year of hard work did I start to overtake these people and began placing more highly myself. However with running especially, I’ve learned that it can actually be a positive to start the sport later. Those who have been training from a very young age often become burnt out, whereas those new to the sport benefit and are able to run on fresher legs with undamaged enthusiasm and commitment.
But what’s the point? Many people will view sport and decide that because they’re unlikely to be Olympic Champion, there’s no point. I really can understand this view. I don’t think I would dedicate such a vast amount of my time to running if I didn’t think I could make it to the top. But I’m now beginning to realise that there is so much more to sport than being the best, and even if I didn’t want to make the GB team I think I would still be drawn to running for a number of reasons. And these positives don’t have to derive from being a more “serious” runner – I believe anyone can and should be able to experience them if they dedicate just a small amount of time to sport.
Running has had many impacts on my life. I love the constant challenge that is personal to me only and is something that I wouldn’t experience in school work or anything else. I can’t imagine not having this “thing” to work at 24/7 or even just for one hour a week. Running allows me to feel slightly separate from everyone else – in a good way – because no other human can experience it the way I do. The post-run feeling is arguably one of the best parts of training (for anyone, slow or fast), but I also really do look forward to the sessions. The feeling of being fatigued, out of breath, and in the fresh air, solely concentrating on “getting it done” and nothing else, no matter how stressful the day has been.
Running has taught me how to structure my life, and also about my body. A newbie runner will suddenly discover this ever-expanding world of training plans, beetroot shots and cushioned trainers. An experienced runner will often think they know it all, only to turn the corner and find a whole new section. The pre-race schedule (walking the course, deciding which spikes to wear and surveying the other competitors) all seems so normal to me now, but completely alien to people back at school. Running means that Friday night is for mountains of pasta and nervous energy for the race the next morning, and Saturday night is for washing off the mud and watching a film in bed feeling clean and exhausted. Sundays are for the slow long runs with just my thoughts to distract me. And then it’s back to work on Monday.
I’ve currently been injured for seven months, and it has been really tough to go from running fast along the pavements to hobbling and watching jealously from the sidelines. However, the injury has brought things into perspective for me. It’s amazing to think that such a huge part of my life has been put on hold, but (hopefully) I will be coming out the other side wiser. I think that anyone who is even considering giving running a go (or any other sport for that matter) shouldn’t be afraid or worried that people might be ‘better’ than them. The running community in particular is extremely kind and willing to help absolutely anyone who is willing to work hard- no matter how fast or naturally talented. There will always be runners slower than you, and also runners faster than you (in most cases!), but the challenge is your own challenge. Nobody can beat that.
To end this post I would just like to say a huge thank you to Kent Sport for letting me write on this brilliant website for the #KentGirlsCan campaign. I love the idea of getting as many people into sport as possible and am willing to support it the best way that I can. Just recently I have joined the GirlsActive squad and have been writing some posts on the topic of sport which can be found below. I also blog weekly on www.teenrunner.co.uk which documents my journey whilst also broadcasting my own knowledge about the sport in terms of workouts, training, and nutrition, as well as featuring other athletes to hear their side of the story. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Community links below. Thank you very much for reading!
Facebook group: TeenRunner Community