1 – What got you into Running?
Good question, i was the archetypal kid at school who hated cross country and was always at the back (I guess nothing changes).
I used to do Fun Runs or kids runs as they’re known nowadays. Whenever Dad did a race, I’d go along and do the fun run, usually around 2-3miles – my favourite was the Potteries Marathon Fun Run on the Friday before the Potts Marathon, it was always perfect June weather and i’d get a bottle of milk in a glass bottle once i’d finished – also used to run with the number 1 bib some years. I also remember being chased by a herd of cows at Manifold Valley – still the quickest I’ve ever run.
As most, once i got into my teenage years, i left running behind and piled on the weight. That was until one day i went for a walk along the canal and I tracked it on RunKeeper (why I had RunKeeper on my phone I don’t know). I got 1.5miles away in 30mins and my competitive nature came out and i challenged myself to get back home in under 30mins following the same route out. I enjoyed it so much i asked Dad if i could come along to his Breakfast run he used to go to at (the no longer existent) Bourne Sports. I went out, phone strapped to arm and ran about 100 yards before stopping to walk out of breath and dying. I didn’t even make it round the 5k route, I had to cut it short. As it is a shop we were supposed to use the rear door and go upstairs (not even 100 metre walk) and couldn’t make it round to the back door and had to nip in through the front door – this was harder than I thought.
But i kept going back week after week, then included the odd weekday run after work and i don’t think i’ve never looked back since and running has been a huge part of my life that i couldn’t live without. Now I have to tell myself that I am running too much (I didn’t know that was a thing).
2 – Can you expand on the support that you felt you got from UkRunChat?
I love the UkRunChat community and I wouldn’t be the same runner without them and i certainly wouldn’t have met so many inspiring people. I wrote in my latest blog (Brixton 10k) a little soppy bit about it – I had the pleasure of running the race with two awesome runners that I can call my friends – I find it hard sometimes to comprehend that I have friends that have done 100km ultra’s.
The other thing about the community is that it not only supports you in times of difficulty or injury, it also inspires you. I don’t think without the community I would’ve thought of doing a marathon this year, but you see incredible feats of endurance and overcoming injuries and set backs to go on and do great things – and you think to yourself, I’d love to do that one day.
I’ve had the pleasure of hosting the weekly UkRunChat hour on a couple of occasions and it’s great to engage with runners new and old, it really doesn’t matter whether you started running last Tuesday or 20 years ago, you’ll get the same support, encouragement and invites to tweet ups as anyone.
3 – Injuries you’ve had, how you got over them
Agghh Achilles – I picked up this injury out of nowhere and it wasn’t going away or easing quickly.
I was out for about 3 months in total – with a week here and there where i did the JPMorgan Chase Challenge and Great Newham 10k (that one i was not going to miss).
For the first week or so, i was in agony and pretty miserable with it. I saw a physio not long after and was given a crutch to take off some of the pressure and heal raises to help with the pain, I would normally sit and do nothing, trying to keep it iced and elevated when possible, but my physio gave me some strengthening exercises and told me i could still go to the gym for swimming, elliptical and cycling – just nothing that would put weight or addition stress on it. It was so nice to be able to keep on going and keeping my fitness up. I actually found I really embraced the static cycle, so my quick 5min spin became 5k, then 10k to 30mins to 45mins, and of course I challenged myself to go quicker and quicker each time.
It took a while, it got better, i’d run, it’d go again and i really struggled to get over it. I pulled out of the Great North Run, which I was really disappointed about as it was supposed to be my first Half Marathon and my A race for the year.
Even up to the week of the race I still clung onto the idea of doing it. On the Wednesday before GNR, i was feeling good and I’d had a couple of weeks of pain free walking with the Achilles so I went out, no time in mind, to see how far I could go. I managed my longest run of 8.5miles – but i knew from this the extra 4.5 miles would be a massive struggle, decided it would be best to leave GNR behind and concentrate on getting to Royal Parks in one piece – I’m so glad I did!
I got over it eventually and ran Royal Parks Half with a month of training and a long run of 9.5 miles. Post Royal Parks I had Shockwave Therapy on it – it’s not as horrendous as it sounds. You basically get pummelled by a high frequency machine x number of times a second. What it does in the long term is that it actually destroys the structure of the Achilles, so in the short term it hurts and you have to be very careful with not loading it – i.e. not running but cycling and swimming was ok. I had three treatments and since it’s been good, occasional tweak here and there but no major lay offs.
4 – Have you got a favourite race and why?
I have two, I think had i have been in a fit state post race and not struggled quite so much it would’ve been Royal Parks Half Marathon hands down. However, as soon as i got to half way i could feel my legs were starting to get tired and i turned into a run/walk. I was continuously slowing to try and get some energy into my legs, nothing came and by 9miles I was no longer run/walking – i was just walking and trying to get to the finish as quickly as i could.
My other favourite is the London 10,000. I coupled it up with the Westminster Mile on the Saturday. It’s a lovely route round some of the best sights in london (I loved running up Birdcage Walk, imagined what it must be like to run up there in the marathon), it’s perfectly organised which proper waves, good baggage bays and plenty for the families to do and an awesome medal and goody bag – i’ve roped my dad and a few others into doing it this year – tweet up and pub again!
5 – What is your Toughest Race to date?
Now, thats and easy question to answer. That was the Cancer Research Tough 10k at Box Hill, which we climbed over 5 times and had an elevation gain of over 1,200ft. Did i enjoy it, yeah once i’d finished it felt like an achievement just to get round. Whilst i was out on the course you constantly thought that was it and you were finally descending before being directed back up again – not that the route down was easy either. The other tough thing about the race was that I was last – my first time. It wasn’t as bad or embarrassing as i thought it would be – in fact its true what they say and I probably got more support coming in than any other runner and i high-5’d all the way to the finish line.
6 – Advice for new runners or those that think a certain distance is too far?
– Don’t push distances to far to quick (10% per week is plenty)
– If you have an injury, rest and follow your physio’s advice.
– Start slow, negative splits if you can (i’ve only done it once)
– If you lose your Mojo, don’t dwell on it, have a rest, you’ve probably deserved it & then sign up for a race
Give yourself time to build up, if you rush it, you’re more likely to pick up an injury. I recently read a book about someone who did MdS (Marathon des Sables). and she said the most important thing is time of your feet if you’re going long distance and not bothered about time. I would love to do a marathon this year and I’m not completely bothered about time it takes. Soon i am going to begin doing long walks and treks to get the long distances and spending 5-7hours on my feet. Then, i will start to include running into the treks and working on making it quicker but being able to complete the distance.
7 – Have you followed any Training Plans?
I have, i used my.asics to get me to Half Marathon. I found it good, it was achieveable, distances were reasonable and you could move the runs around in the calendar where needed. The only issue i had was that it didnt link up directly with Garmin and you had to upload runs manually.
I’m looking for another plan to take me upto Marathon distance this year. I prefer my plans to give distances rather than minutes for training – for me a 3hour run wouldnt get me up to the necessary distance for a marathon so i prefer to see what mileage is required and it means i can plan my time better.
8 – Do you have any running heroes?
Yes absolutely, it’s my dad – he’s bit of a legend, 77 years young, multiple marathons, more halves and 10k’s than I’ve had hot dinners, loves hills (I mean come on that’s just not right), and can go and do a 10k on the hottest day of the year on a sip of water and en route water stations (ie no gels, electrolyte drinks, shot bloks, jelly beans etc). If it wasn’t for him, i probably wouldn’t be a runner – although he blames me for getting him into running in the first place by asking why he wasn’t doing the Milton 10k like all the others.