For my first blog post I could tell you about the training I did at the weekend or review the run I recently volunteered at. However, when I am reading blogs, what I really want to know is: a little bit about the person who is writing. Is this person like me? What’s their story? Can I identify with them? Are they super fit and talking about 2 hrs 45 min marathons or just surviving them? What value will I get from this blog?
I have written a little bio in the “About” page but I thought I would flesh it out a little to produce my first blog post.
I grew up a sports nut. From the age of 6 to 16, I swam competitively, played football at school and Sunday league, rugby for my local club, did athletics and cross country at school and a local club, played basketball at school, county and local leagues and played in any other possible school team going. Sunday sometimes consisted of a rugby match in the morning, a football match on the afternoon and then a swimming gala in the evening.
Due to burning all this energy, I grew up being fairly skinny and could eat whenever I wanted. I have always had a large appetite (following my Sunday exploits I could devour two portions of roast dinner and whole chocolate sponge with custard).
In my latter teens my appetite stayed, but my participation in sports fell away and by my mid-20s, I was playing 5 a side football once a week and my passion for sport manifested itself as watching sport in a pub with friends and beer. I was no longer in shape. I had become unfit and overweight.
I had the aim since I was young to do the London Marathon. I always found the BBC coverage so motivational and the theme music brought (and still does) a tear to my eye. I told friends I was going to do it, but they doubted I ever would, and they had good reason to. So in 2008, following a couple of 10kms here and there and a few unsuccessful London Marathon ballots, I bit the bullet and accepted a Golden Bond place from the NSPCC.
Following The Non Runners Marathon Trainer book in which the stated aim is to complete and enjoy the marathon (a point I think every marathon runner should never overlook) I trained diligently and finished in 4hrs 27mins. It was a great day; I paced myself well, finished strongly, and enjoyed it immensely as well as achieving my aim of under 4hrs 30 mins. I had also lost a stone (6.35 kgs) in weight due to my training. I put it straight back on within weeks.
The flirtation with running carried on and I continued to enter the London Marathon ballot. In 2010, I was successful. This time around, due to some changes in my personal life (moving to London and the bachelor lifestyle with friends) the training and preparation was not so diligent and I underestimated what I takes to run a marathon (maybe due to my great experience in 2008). At about 6 miles into the 2010 race, I could already feel it in my legs. I knew this one was not going to be so “easy”. I saw out the 26.2 miles and never stopped running and finished in 4hrs 29mins. Only two minutes slower than previously, and with less training. I was pleased with my time and I had survived, but it taught me to respect the achievement of running and finishing a marathon and also taught me a lot about the good and bad things I had done for each race.
The sporadic 10ks continued and there was a failed attempt to become a rower (too much training commitment required) but in 2012 I signed up for a free British Military Fitness (BMF) trial session at Bushy Park. I had heard about BMF before and to tell you the truth, it sounded too much like hard work. I enjoyed my trial session and yes, it was hard work and I hurt a lot for the following week, but I ended up signing up to a monthly subscription. I had found something I enjoyed, and it would get me fit.
I continued to go to BMF two to three times a week. However, my diet was still not good, I was drinking too much and I regularly headed to my weekend morning BMF sessions with a hangover and just surviving the session was my main aim. I still had the idea in my head that I was the successful and fit athlete I was when I was younger (a point I will cover in a later post) and while I was slacking off at the back, I still thought I could “turn it on” and take all these people in front of me. My weight and body shape was not changing.
The realisation that I was not able to “turn it on” started to dawn on me and that the guys and girls in front of me and kicking my ass, actually put in the time and effort to be that fit and fast.
So in 2015, I set the aim of improving myself and living a fitter, better and more thoughtful life. With a few lifestyle changes, some possibly due to getting older and with the help of my girlfriend, I started to eat better (and less), drink less alcohol and take training more seriously. The weight slowly started to come off (around 1kg a month) and I ended up dropping from 15 stone (95kg or 210lbs) to 12 stone 12 pounds (82kg or 180lbs). The training became less of a slog and I worked my way through the groups at BMF. PBs became common place! People said I looked much younger!
Family and friends continually asked how I had done it, so I have started this blog to pass on what I have found and hopefully motivate others. There is lots of information out there and I will try and break some of it down and keep it simple. I do not attest to be an expert but hope I have something to offer that people will find useful.
I have already taken part in the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon this year and took 10 minutes off my previous PB (that I set 8 years ago) and have a ballot place for the Great North Run in September, which is currently my main aim this year.
So there’s a little more background about me, what’s your story?