It took me a long time to find a hobby that suited me.
As a mum of two kids, I always looked at doing things for myself as something that I didn’t really have time for. I also looked at running as something that people who hated themselves did – something I only did when I was trying to lose a little bit of extra weight in between holidays.
Now I own over four pairs of running shoes, and my favourite way to see a city is by planning a run on my first day there. It’s a little mindblowing that it took me until my mid-thirties, the Switch Trip to Madrid, and a marathon to discover how much I love running – and how much happier I am now that my days have a structure.
And it started with Madrid.
At first, I had no interest whatsoever in joining the Madrid runners. Instead, I imagined sipping cocktails nearby while the runners finish off.
Out of curiosity, I joined the newly created running group chat ‘Egg’, and things started to get interesting. Seeing Mel, who just had a baby, training to take part made me feel like I could do it too. I asked questions about how to start training and Lisa suggested a ‘Couch to 10K’ app, which I installed and started following religiously. That was it! After the first week, I was hooked and couldn’t stop.
I must say that I started running because of Switch.
If the plans for the Madrid Marathon weren’t made, I’m sure I wouldn’t have figured out the love of running on my own. Apart from that, the amount of encouragement I received from the Switch team has been unbelievable.
I signed up for the 10K in Madrid, and haven’t looked back since. The day of the 10K, I ran with Laura, another colleague, and the feeling I got was indescribable. I even cried with joy and excitement before the race started. It really felt like a dream.
But before I could run the marathon, I had to train. The app Lisa suggested promised to take you from the couch to a runner in no time, and I spent a lot of time making sure I made room for that training.
Switch gives us Fridays off, and I usually use this day for my longer runs. One of my favourite runs is from my home in Mosta to Golden Bay, finishing off with a beautiful view and a nice coffee. I can’t believe running has given me so much, and that I used to waste these days off on the couch watching Netflix before I discovered the joy of running.
And it’s amazing to think that – before this – I could barely run for a full minute, and I hated every second of that minute.
Racing towards race day
I conquered my first 10K run in Rome, in the gardens of the beautiful Villa Borghese. I was drained, but I felt accomplished and so proud of myself – and that is a feeling I chased for every run before, during, and after Madrid.
(It’s also great that running burns off so many calories that you can eat whatever you want without feeling guilty – and I really put that to the test in Rome!)
After Madrid, I also ran the Gozo half marathon! Everyone was telling me I was crazy to participate. They’d say, “you just started running, how can you take one of the locally most difficult half marathons?” I always replied that I’ll just go with the flow and see what I can do! Then Rik decided to help me out and joined me for the last 10K of the race, and oh I was so glad he did! Having someone giving you courage and pushing you over your limits is what you need to finish such a hilly race! And the feeling you get after the finish line is out of this world, no matter how many times you experience it!
While travelling to Chania, I was already scoping out where my next run is going to be. I knew I wanted to run by the sea, and I don’t regret it: it was so lovely running along the shore, all the cafes and the port, and I discovered that running while on holiday is the best way for sightseeing. Going through the little alleys and exploring the city in the early hours gives you a different perspective of a place. And it helped that I took my new running shoes with me to test them out there.
Eventually, I want to try running a full marathon – but, although I’m taking up every run I can find right now, I’m still very far away from a full marathon. It takes a lot of training physically and mentally to be able to manage a full marathon, but I’m sure that eventually, I’ll get there too. I currently have 2 x 10K races coming up with another of my colleagues Camille and a half marathon in Pisa in October which I’m really looking forward to!
I have also planned a birthday run, 34K for my 34th. It will be by far the hardest and longest run I’ve endured till now, and because it’s in July the weather will be scorching hot and I’ve learned that the weather affects the run drastically.
My plan is to start the run at 5am so at least I’ll be done before the sun starts doing its job. My colleagues also offered to join in bits and pieces of this run with me and one of our designers at Switch, Antonella will also be designing a birthday design to print on my tank top for this big occasion!
Speaking of running shoes—
I’m in love with running shoes now, and if I could I would buy them all! All my heels have been packed away in their boxes. I started running roughly 3 months ago, and I have already bought four pairs of runners, my whole wardrobe has been changed to running gear, and I couldn’t be happier.
I would see people running in the streets and would say to myself why are they putting themselves through that misery? I never saw running as a hobby or as something that could actually be fun, and now here I am, looking up route after route.
The feeling of freedom
Running makes me feel free, and happy, and like I can conquer whatever I want.
It’s a strange feeling actually – I do feel exhausted and tired by the end of it, however, the feeling you get after completing a targeted run is so liberating! I love travelling, and now as soon as I book a holiday I’ll map out where my run in that city is going to be.
Running has put me in a better place. I realised that getting up early to run was a habit that gave my days a structure, and for me, running was the start of my new and better, happier life after struggling with mental health issues. It’s played a major role in me becoming a better me. It has made me stick to not smoking, get fit, eat well, learn about nutrition and have goals. It has also made me new friends, given me confidence, and made me feel part of something good.
I feel so very lucky to have found something I gain so much pleasure from and I feel very proud to call myself a runner. It took me until my mid-thirties to find my hobby and passion and it has been life-changing.