The reasons why I run?   Part 1 – The early years

Wednesday 19th February 2020 (1102am)

I have been asked to put something together on a similar line for a magazine and it got me thinking about my early years.

The reasons why I run have changed over the years. Earliest memories of races and my competitiveness go back to junior school where winning everything was my only priority. I could run, and yes in those days I could run fast. I was a sprinter. My mother, to this day will argue that she was faster at my age. I will argue otherwise. Nature or nurture, whatever you want to call it, or however you want to define it, both important. The sporting genes and the competitive streak combined turned me into someone with immense drive and determination by the age of seven. I spent four years in Tenby juniors, that meant, four years of sports days. Four years of having to win. Four years of wanting to get my hands on that silver cup. Four years of being the best at something. Academically, I was middle of the class, I had no musical talent, my creativity as I have learnt probably just as bad; but sport was my thing. 

I had two main rivals at junior school for this magic cup. One who was a better jumper than me (both into the sand pit and over the bar), she could also throw the rounders ball further. The other, challenged me at running. The cup champion was the athlete 😂 who built up the most points over all the events that led up to the big day, which consisted of events on the track. By track I mean an uneven grass field with wobbly white lines acting as lanes. Between the ages of 7-11 this was my Olympic stadium, as the mass of supporters (a small number of family members for all my competitors) stood chatting on the side line on a random week day afternoon. 

Us athletes (some happy to be there, some not) would sit in our house groups which were divided into colours and local areas. Red (Caldey), Blue (Goscar), Green (Monsktone) and yellow (Giltar). I was in red, the colour of champions.

Even at this early age I experienced nerves and the excitement which came with wanting to win. I recall one night, upset and frustrated that I was rubbish at skipping and I could not do the skipping race. On the big day, I would not be able to eat my lunch through nerves. 

I certainly had no external pressure put on me from my parents. I was not bribed with an extra 50p for winning. I won the cup every year and also won a trophy for being the best sporting girl in my final year (pictured). I achieved what I had set out to achieve. Did this ambition and success shape other areas of my life and follow me through to where I am now? 

What did I get from winning and from my early success on that wonky track? It made me feel good to know that I had won. A sense of accomplishment and at that age praise and recognition from teachers and family. I was good at something. I felt like a champion, I was proud and I could walk around with my head held high. If there was an open top bus through the town of Tenby, you bet I would have been on it showing off what I had won. That would never be taken from me. My name displayed on the big notice board which was on the wall in the corridor leading to the hall. I would often look up at it whilst in the dinner queue. The cups in the trophy cabinet nearby. My name. My prize. 

Still a few years away from being a teenager and I was showing early ambition and a level of pressure that I put on myself to be the best.

Did I enjoy running? Yes I loved it.

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