Re-writing my relationship with physical activity, by Natalie Davis
Posted: Tue, 08 Nov 2022 13:52
Active Oxfordshire's Healthy Communities Manager, Natalie Davis, writes about her recent experience running the Oxford Half Marathon and the opportunity it brought to rewrite her story following a troubled relationship with exercise growing up.
I used to run competitively as a youngster, cross country mainly, but in all honesty, I hated it. I crumbed under the pressure to win medals and perform at my BEST but this time there was no pressure just joy and love. Looking back now, I find it strange that I pushed myself so hard, in what was my father's dream, not mine.
I was a bit apprehensive when a charity close to my heart Oxfordshire youth asked me to run the 2022 Oxford Half Marathon. I said yes and realised after that this was to be a big challenge for me. Could I re-write the story? Bring fun back into the experience and the training? I was determined not to approach it with lightness and fun, and not as I had before, with a strong mind and willpower, and a lot of pressure. Some of the things that helped me with this was training with lots of different people through the run up; having fun with friends and family, creating memories and prioritising laughter.
When I was at the start line, I looked around me, no one was there for the time or the medals, the amount of people who were running for a great cause, or just for fun really moved me and the camaraderie really did get me to the finish line sub-2 hours (which was a miracle if you ask me)!
Oxfordshire youth were my employer post University, and coming full circle to run for them and an amazing cause really did mean a lot. Back in the day I had a real struggle with OCD, it was a moment to honour how far I had come and celebrate the progress I have made. I really want the next generation to know that their current struggles are only one chapter, not the full story.
It was amazing to re-write this story, and understand that it is possible to redefine our relationship with physical activity even if we have experiences in the past that have shaped more negative experiences. I am glad I got to run this weekend and unlearn that sport and physical activity has to be competitive, it can indeed be FUN, even a half marathon,who would have thought it?!
A few tips that helped me that may help you if you fancy saying yes to a sporting event for charity are:
- Buddy up, training with friends goes a long way
- Start small, give yourself time to build up the miles slowly
- Remind yourself WHY you are doing it, this provides the motivation
- Celebrate your achievements, give yourself a pat on the back once in a while throughout, you deserve it!
Many young girls have a negative feeling towards physical activity and Natalie's story emphasises just how damaging that can be, but also how, with the right support and opportunities available, it's possible to change that and begin to enjoy a positive relationship with exercise.