Back in the summer of 2014 I started to run for fitness. I’m still running for fitness and I’m still rubbish. But that’s not the point.
It was July 2013 when I decided that impersonating a blimp wasn’t fun. So I started going for walks.
A year later, I was walking fast every day. And on this particular day, I was on the way back home from an 8-miler.
I was moving so fast that it was hurting my shins. So, I started to jog.
To be clear, I started to jog to ease the pain in my legs. That was all. I didn’t suddenly decide to be a runner.
I did enjoy the experience, though. So when I got home, my wife was on the way into town. I asked her to pick me up “a pair of those running trainers...”
I had no idea what I was doing.
I did install one of those couch to 5K apps on my phone. And I did start the program of running.
I had a problem straight away.
The requirements were too easy. Keep in mind that I had no idea what I was doing.
Anyway, I found that the schedule the app had me following was so easy that I would then walk for miles after the app session for the day had finished.
I do remember being excited when I was able to keep jogging for 10 minutes without stopping.
And then again when I kept going for 20 minutes.
It wasn’t long before I was running every day.
Running badly. Terrible form and at a pace not much quicker than walking pace.
On a lovely Sunday morning in August, I ran six miles, non-stop. I was delighted. It felt brilliant to have kept moving at a steady run (nope, that’s not what it was) for that distance.
That was it. I was hooked. And off I went telling everyone about my running escapades.
I signed up to my first running event in October. A 6.5 mile charity run. I knew I would manage it just fine.
Let’s say this: I did finish the run. I was third from last and a long way behind most of the other runners.
The wake-up call had begun.
It’s about fitness not athleticism
I’m still running. I’ve run half marathons, a full marathon and a couple of ultra marathons.
I’m the slowest runner you’ll ever meet. But that’s not the point.
Way back when I started, it was about keeping the weight off and improving my aerobic fitness.
It’s still about that.
I admire runners that go tearing past me like I’m standing still.
I admire runners who can hold a steady 8-minute mile (or less) for mile after a mile.
I’m not one of those runners.
I stand 6’ 2” in my socks and weigh 18 stone. I’m in my fifties and so take the view that as long as I keep running, none of the rest of it matters.
I fretted for ages that I was too slow. I stopped enjoying running because it became a chore - constantly trying to get fitter and faster.
It worked - a bit, but nowhere near enough to satisfy my desire to be better.
I now take a more philosophical view. Sure, I’ll keep working to be better. But I won’t stress about it at all.
I’m not ever going to be an athlete.
I don’t need to be one to use running to keep me fit.