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Melanie Morris: I'm running again, so bring on the race-day nerves

Sound the horns and roll the drums, because today, after a winter of hibernation and girth-growing, I started running again. A necessary evil because, like most people, I am terrified of exercise.

I hate the gym. It's tedious on top of unpleasant, but thankfully, a few years ago, I met John Belton, a great trainer who got me outdoors, running and finally finding a form of exercise I can tolerate, even enjoy from time to time.

And one that makes me a nicer person. Apparently I'm a much more pleasant woman to be around when I'm running.

Today, I was spurred into action because I read a really depressing bit of research that stated women need one hour's moderate exercise per day, EVERY DAY in order not to put on weight. Oh My God. That, plus the news that we've a chance of being in for a sweltering summer -- and thus will have to shed the dark layers and expose some flesh -- was frightening motivation. Oh yeah, and there are health benefits too.

Years ago I saw an ad for Nike that broke down the length of time of a workout ... The workout part was about 30 minutes, but to that they added the argument you had with yourself about whether you were going to exercise or not (about 90 minutes), then the amount of time you spent getting to the gym/walking to the track etc (20 mins), plus the amount of time you spent lacing up your trainers/psyching yourself up/faffing around the changing room (about 15 minutes). Thus, total time spent exercising is 2 hours 35 minutes. Hurrah!

That's pretty much how I work. Today, I spent the whole of this morning trying to think of ways to get out of running.

Fortunately/unfortunately for me (depending on how you look on these things), I'd committed to meeting a friend at lunchtime for the inaugural run. At 9.30am, the fear started, until it reached such a pitch at 12.30 that my palms were sweating and I'd have done anything to get out of it.

But, at 12.45, I headed out and by 1.15 it was over. And it wasn't that bad. It never is. But it's the thought and the dread that motivates me. The only way I'll stick to a running regime for the next few months is to sign up for a race.

So, armed with iPods, coaching apps and schedules, I started my campaign for 2010. And I've signed up for the mini-marathon as my first moment of truth and will do the Adidas Road series through the summer, culminating with the half-marathon (13 miles) in September.

But, let me get over June bank holiday first. I've never done the mini-marathon before, and while I know in one regard it's all about where you start in the pack (ahead of the well-intentioned ladies who walk, and just behind the professional athletes), I also know it's as much about the camaraderie.

Knowing the good spirit of the day should calm my nerves a bit, but I know that'll never be the case. So, for the next few months, I'll be trotting up and down Dun Laoghaire pier like a woman possessed. Oh, the long and winding road indeed ...

Melanie Morris is editor of IMAGE Magazine