Why do I run? A simple question with a simple answer: because I like it. As usual, behind every seemingly simple situation there is a lot more to it.
2012 has been an amazing year for me, however I will start this blog a few years earlier. As a youth I was always "sporty", rugby being my greatest strength. When I left school, other interests less sporty took my attention,
Lets skip forward 20 years to 2004. Aged 40 I stopped smoking and started going to circuit training in the local gym. I enjoyed the buzz of the workout and kept going.
In 2008 I was in the local pub when I found out the landlady and barmaid were running the Great Edinburgh 10k the next weekend. With sufficient beer onboard I agreed to join them ! So five days later I ran my first 10k. I remember little of the race itself other than it hurt big style. I think I ran 52 something and realised quite quickly that I could actually do this running stuff. I then ran some 5 and 10ks before joining a running club, which brought me on. I spent the next three running years in limbo. I'd get excited about it and then get tired of it. The running club didn't work out for me, mainly I think because I don't like to be told where, when and how to run. I started to get involved in the running community on Twitter 2011 and this proved to be a landmark moment for me. I loved the involvment, support and encouragement it afforded, but at the same time I was on my own. It encouraged me to run, yet I could run on my own. Selfish? Maybe, but it suits me.
I took up the challenge on Twitter last December, which I think was called Marcothon after some Marco dude who thought it up. Basically the idea was to run at least 3 miles or 25 minutes every day of December. Great pain invaded my foot on December 29th ! A stress fracture was diagnosed 2 months later after scans and x-rays, however I was not able to run during January and February.
When I started back running, I was afraid of hurting my foot again and so ran off road. I am lucky enough to live on a farm and can run in the fields, hills, riverbanks etc. Soon I realised that this was where I wanted to run. I wasn't so interested in pace, I stopped listening to music while I ran, I just ran. I listened to my breathing, my footfall, the sounds of nature around me. I "felt" my body doing what it was doing. And I loved it.
By this time I had already been inspired by the idiots on Twitter who practice the runstreak (you know who you are!), so I thought I'd give it a go. In simple terms, it means running everyday. Simple! At the time of writing I have been running for 245 days. At times, it can be a chore. But only until I actually start running, and then its a joy more often than not.
My new found playground involved hills, woods, mud, water. Tough running conditions, but it has built up a stanima I didn't think I had in me. The few times I venture onto the roads now also see the benifit: a 10k race and HM training run PB this summer.
My running journey took an unexpected twist in late May. I asked someone if she knew of any off road races coming up. She mentioned a few, including an off road marathon in the Lake District. This was May 30th this year (2012). I looked up the event and found out the closing entry date was May 31st ! Time for an Englishman to enter the equation.
I had been chatting to said Englishman on Twitter for a few months and knew he was looking at running his first marathon. I also knew he was discovering off road running too. I dropped the "I will if you will" into a conversation and he bit ! Now said marathon was only one month away, so we really had to get our heads round this idea. Added to which was the fact we had no idea how hard the course would be. I suppose this kind of suited me because, as I said earlier, I don't like to be told how to run, when to run etc, and a training schedule was out of the question at this late date.
I won't go into the details of the actual race except to say it rained all day, there was no visibility so the beautiful scenery remains unseen to me and we ran it together, finishing together. Blow me, I'm a marathon runner. How did that happen?
The Englishman and I went on to run the Kielder marathon which is a very different type of run. I found it very tough. He went off fast, suffered after 18 miles and came home in an amazing time. Finishing my first marathon was an amazing feeling, finishing my second was more emotional for some reason.
Now in between these two events the Englishman had got in into his tiny noddle to run an Ultra. How silly can you be? Well of course you can guess the outcome. We did. We ran the Ennerdale trail 50k on 21st Oct 2012. Again this is not a race report, so I will limit my comments to saying that when I realised I "only" had 5 miles or so to go and was feeling really strong, I looked around to check no-one could hear me, and started singing! I can't sing by the way! I sang because I was so happy that I was doing this, was able to do this and I was inhaling every moment of it, knowing it would be over all too soon.
Two lovely friends were at the finish to cheer me home and I had now run my first marathon and Ultra marathon with the Englishman. He's in my soul.
I'm not putting down short distance by any means. I've been thrilled when I have run a PB, but distance just does it for me. It seems to suit my character.
I had kept both my first marathon and ultra quiet on Twitter as I didn't want the added pressure. I have one more challenge left in what has been an amazing running year. I want to run 2012 miles. As I missed January and Febuary, I never considered this until early October. Then I had to average 8 miles per day for the rest of the year. I'm on target.
To answer my original question, I run because it has taken me on this journey and I am still travelling.