/ Fitness

Running: easy to find but hard to do

I’ve been a runner for the past four years. I’ve never been any good at it, but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t start running to be good, I started with a single purpose.

In the summer of 2013, I was fat, middle-aged and unfit. I knew this because I had to buy the biggest clothes on the rack. And because walking a flight of stairs would make me breathless.

That summer, I started doing something about it. First, it was going for long walks. Well, going for a walk of any distance in the early days.

The process of going for a brisk walk prepared me well for what was to come. I developed shin splints, many blisters and always had lower back pain.

I realised that they were all symptoms of being a fat, lazy git for years. That sounds unfair. I was busy building my career, paying the bills and making my way in life. It didn’t leave much room for fitness.

Anyway, after 12 months of going for longer and longer walks, a strange thing happened. I was on my way back from an 8-mile hike and I was moving fast.

It was now the summer of 2014. The day was warm already, even though it was still quite early. I was developing pains in my shins from the hard pace I was pushing.

Over the past year, I learned to grit my teeth and push through the pain. But this was different. This was my body suggesting I could do something different.

I broke into a run.

In truth, it was a slow jog. But I made it all the way back home. I was elated. I was going to be a runner now. Walking for fitness was behind me, running was going to continue my salvation.

That part of the journey I’ve written about before. Here, I want to highlight a major factor about running.

::Running is easy to find - you just open your front door::

Over the past four years, I’ve been injured many times. To recover, I’ve return to brisk walking and cycling to stay fit. I even added Nordic walking to my list.

Each of those activities has an overhead:

  • Cycling needs a lot of kit and a bike
  • Walking leads to hiking and hillwalking - which requires hills and trails
  • Nordic walking requires Nordic walking poles

Running only needs a good pair of trainers and off you go. As running coach Hal Higdon says:

“One of running’s appeals is its simplicity. You don’t need membership in an expensive club. You don’t need a playing field. Step out your front door, and you’ve found your running arena.”

Damn right.

Running then, is indeed easy to find.

Running is also hard. I’d go as far as to say it’s the hardest physical activity we do. It’ll need commitment and perseverance. And it will need a big dollop of mind over matter.

After that? It doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are. I run to keep the timber off and to keep my physical fitness at a decent level.

Anything else after that is a bonus.