Getting Into Running

Toby. July 19, 2022

In our blogs, we’re going to talk about different aspects of health and exercise, and how to lead a more active lifestyle. I’m a runner and I wanted to talk about how it all started for me.

I’ve been running for more than 20 years and have had all sorts of experiences with running. I’ve had sunstroke, run in really low temperatures, taken most of the mud in the country home with me, had injuries, got completely lost in some woods, both in the daylight and at night, been hit by a bike, been soaked to the skin and fallen over on my face. But I’ve also stood on the start line in races in Paris, Berlin & London to name but a few. And I’ve twice beaten a World and Olympic Champion (it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, and maybe a story for another time!). Every experience has been great, even though it didn’t always feel it at the time! But people often ask me how I got into running.

Everybody has their reason for starting to run. It might be a New Year’s Resolution, a personal goal (such as run a 10k), a desire to take care of one’s health, part of a weight loss program or just for the pure enjoyment of it. For me, I didn’t want to put on weight when I stopped smoking.

I can still remember my first run. My wife had started a new job and was doing evening shifts. I just wanted something to do(in the days before Netflix). I decided to go around the local park a few times. I was good at running at school, so I thought I would be fine. I dug out my old casual trainers, put on a T-shirt and some comfortable tracksuit bottoms and off I went.

I had already made 2 mistakes and I didn’t know it yet. Firstly, I was not as fit as I was at school and secondly, I greatly overestimated my own capabilities.

I didn’t warm up. After all, I wasn’t a professional and I wasn’t going for long and I wasn’t going far.

I set off, but after less than 100 metres, my body was already screaming at me. I was exhausted, I had to start walking. Nobody told me this at the time, but that is completely normal.

I managed my 2 miles at a run/ walk pace (to be honest mostly walking,) and actually felt a bit disheartened. I ‘only’ wanted to run 2 miles and I couldn’t even manage that!

I didn’t stretch, I didn’t cool down, I just went home and ate a big bar of chocolate (after all I had earned it!)

The next day I woke up and all of my muscles were stiff. Not just a little, but really stiff. I couldn’t believe it, maybe running wasn’t for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is completely normal.

I can remember struggling throughout the day, being stiff and sore and my colleagues were making fun of my lack of mobility. I had the usual office banter about walking sticks and I smiled and took it on board. But I was secretly proud that I had done it.

I went to bed and thought that everything would be fine in the morning. Another rookie error. It was worse, if that is even possible. I felt stiffer than the day before. I wish somebody had told me that this is normal.

I thought it would never get better and that I just wasn’t made for running. But, a few days later, I made one of the best and bravest decisions I have ever made in my life: I put my shoes on and I went out again.

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