Why I run.

We all have our own reasons for running. My reason has changed through the years. I’ve only recently found my real ‘why’…

I never used to like running. I was happy to run when it was required as part of some other sport like footy or basketball but I hated just running for the sake of it. What was the point?

I remember whinging whenever we turned up for PE and got told “get your kits on, it’s cross-country”. I hated cross-country. Why did the teachers always pick the wettest, coldest, most horrible days to do it?! Oh, and while we’re on the subject, what was the point of the bleep test? What exactly were we supposed to learn from doing that that in PE at school?! Anyway…

After leaving school, other than the occasional footy game, I avoided any form of exercise for the next 7 years.

Then, in 2009, my mum passed away aged just 44. She had Leukemia.

Afterwards. I wanted to do something to remember her and also to say thanks for all of the kind support from volunteers at The Butterwick Hospice. My (now) wife and I decided to sign up for the Great North Run in 2010. It was tough but we we both completed it…eventually.

And I thought I looked pretty cool…Ha !With my (now) wife, lovely Laura.

After hitting what felt like a brick wall halfway through, The Great North Run made us both never want to run ever again and we never did.

Well at least for another few years…

Me and Laura were getting married in September 2013. So, after putting on a chunk of extra belly podge, I decided to try and get fit (basically to look better in my wedding suit). I did manage to lose a bit of weight and was pretty happy with myself at the wedding.

I signed up for a couple of events after our honeymoon to try and keep the running up and it worked for the main. My last event of 2013 was the Helvellyn 15k in November (which ended up being reduced to 10k because of the awful weather conditions on the morning). After that I kind of fell of the running wagon again. I had no events booked in and no goals to aim for.

Sporting a handlebar stache at Helvellyn, 2013

In early 2014, I thought, “maybe if I do some more runs for charity then not only will I raise a bit more money for charity but it might keep me motivated”.

I didn’t think it would work but it did. I ended up running a series of progressively longer and tougher races (under the handle, Cruel Runnings).

Over an hour faster and finishing 18,000 places higher. Result!

Oh, and I also included the Great North Run in the list to see if I could improve on the time from 2010. I did by over an hour. Buzzing!

It was the most difficult, but, also most satisfying year of running I’d ever had. But then, in December 2014, I made a mistake…
I took a running break.

“I’ll just take a break over Christmas and start again in the New Year”, I thought. How foolish I was.

After a couple of weeks of eating everything and doing zero exercise, it was even more difficult to start running again. I would also use the excuse of my wife being pregnant at the time to stuff my face more. I think I put on about the same amount of weight as my wife who was growing a child.

Who’s the pregnant one? My belly was growing at the same pace as my unborn child…

When my beautiful daughter, Evie, was born in July 2015, our lives changed completely. She was the most beautiful and amazing little thing I’d ever seen and also the most tiring, crazy experience of my life.

It wasn’t an easy ride. In the first few months Laura was in and out of hospital following complications during the birth. Evie was in and out of hospital with water infections and she suffered from Reflux which meant we were lucky if she slept for an hour without waking up in pain. We were usually up every half an hour with her for months (Don’t worry, it all got better though!).

It wasn’t a case of choosing to not go for a run anymore. It was more a case of when would I even have the time?

I was so overwhelmed and tired (and suddenly more respectful of my Mum and Dad, who had 4 children to deal with) that when I wasn’t at work, I just wanted to be at home, spending time with my wife and daughter (oh, and also sleeping).

But, once things started to settle and we became a little more used to things, I was itching to get back out for a run. I knew it had been too long and I knew I did want to run again. I bought myself a new pair of running shoes to try and spur me into keeping it going.

I got back into it but ended up pushing myself too hard, too soon. I managed to break a new 5km personal best (27:54) but also broke some muscles in the process. I spent a few months suffering with Plantar Fasciitis, Illotibial Band strain and ended up having physiotherapy coupled with Hydrocortisone injections in the bottom of my foot (its awful! It feels like your foot is going to explode, followed by a feeling of numbness for about a day!).

Throughout 2015 (and into 2016), after recovering from injury, I kept up the running, averaging about 1 run a week, but I wasn’t putting in the miles or the variation of sessions to really improve or challenge myself (definitely not enough to shave any inches off my belly).

Then I found Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. The man is an ultra-running trail champion the world over, but is so humble about it. He pushes himself to go further and faster but at the same time takes the time to enjoy every run as if it were a gift. To take in the world and see it for the amazingly beautiful, harsh, friendly, awesome place that it is (including how to run a 100 mile race through mountain and desert powered by mainly a diet consisting of rice and plants). It’s an inspiring read.

I knew what I wanted to do; to run an ultramarathon.

I set my stall out to do it and and in 2017, I signed up to run The Wall in June 2018 (chosen because its both well waymarked and well supported — a good choice for my first one I think). It’s 69 Miles from Carlisle to Newcastle. I’ve started training again already and I’m in the process of getting my fitness back up to run long distances again and I have even put in place the first couple of weeks of my training plan.

Running further is my passion. I know that now. I run because I want to see how far I can go. To show myself that if I put my mind to something I can do it no matter how tough. To achieve things that I never thought was possible for me.

For anyone new to running, all I can say is that running is hard…to begin with. Your body will hurt. Your feet will blister. Your breathing will be heavy. You might not even be able to run 500 yards at first. BUT…it gets easier. Miles down the line running starts to become enjoyable. The most difficult thing is finding your motivation but give it the time and effort, stick it out for the longer term and you will find your passion for it and I promise that you’ll come to love it.

We all have our own reasons for running (or wanting to run); losing weight, being healthier, taking out stress or getting personal bests. We all need goals to aim for and it never hurts to have more things in our lives that we enjoy. We only get one chance at this life, so I would say fill it with experiences. Give running a try, if its not for you, at least you can say you bought the t-shirt.

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