What made you get into running?
In 2012 I decided I needed a challenge in my life, something that would be an actual struggle, difficult to achieve and therefore be worth more to me than things that come easy. I fractured my kneecap at university and had a multiple ankle fracture in the same leg a few years later. It took so long to heal, with bursitis in the quads and tendinitis and Baker Cysts and all that fun stuff that are byproducts of such trauma, that for the next 15 years even walking fast gave me shin splints. So when my wife at the time and two of my good friends signed up for the Amsterdam and Dublin marathons (one actually did both) I thought that would be my challenge: running the Amsterdam half, something that was impossible as far as I was concerned.
I started with the couch to 5K. But I came to a grinding halt after 200 yards on the dreadmill at the Barbican Virgin Active gym. But I persevered and signed up for my first race 2 months later, the BUPA London 10K. I ran that and was hooked. The rest, as they say, is history.
What has been your proudest/best running moment?
I think the Berlin Marathon this year was the best moment, crossing that line by the Brandeburg Gate. I was supposed to run it in 2013 but was injured and so it became my nemesis race. I have bailed on a fair few races in my time, but I always try to run them another year for closure. As Berlin became ballot only in 2014 I had to wait until my chosen charity (Pancreatic Cancer UK) offered me a spot this year. I took it and the rest is…. well, you know.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
This is a tough one. The toughest race I ever ran was the Two Oceans in Cape Town, I was up at 4am, car sick on the way, nowhere to warm up or stretch in the pens, and my calves were broken from the previous day’s International Friendship Run with Haile Gebreselassie. What was most disappointing was that I was one of the international bloggers for that race, so spent a lot of time talking and thinking about it, only for it to be my slowest, most painful race yet. I wanted to do well for the Two Oceans team but it was a disaster. When I go back in 2017 I will nail the ultra.
Other things? Keeping the weight off in mince pie season, Swain’s Lane of Pain, keeping up with the #ukrunchat hour when hosting, finding the motivation on cold Winter’s mornings, you know, the usual stuff. When I am no longer injured I am going to use my marathon training plan as my regular plan. I miss the challenge it sets me.
Who is your inspiration, and why?
I am pretty bad about this one. I know people gush about Jo Pavey, or Paula (and I had a photo taken with her at the Olympic stadium race), or Haile (and I ran with him), or Seb, Crammie (who started my last BUPA I think), Mo , Meb, Bart Yasso, and rightly so, but I do not have running heroes. I actually wrote a post on it: Click Here to have a read of it
What are your future goals?
At the moment I need to get fixed. I hate not being able to run. I love the idea of doing something whilst you can, because sooner or later you won’t be able to. I therefore just want to be running again.
Race calendar and bucket list-wise, I do love marathons and next year I have Manchester, Copenhagen, Gloucester, maybe Berlin or Cape Town, but none are on my bucket list. I now want to run the majors, especially after learning how few people have run all 6. I need to run Comrades at some point, I need to run the Marine Corps Marathon. And if I can stay fit there is nothing stopping me from running all those races. I won’t run them fast, mind you, but I will finish them all.
What would be your one piece of essential advice to someone looking to start up running?
Realise it is not a contest, you will meet people who run faster, further, for longer, who have run all over the world, who are amazing, but the only person who have to beat is yourself. The only PBs you can get are you own.
Oh, and find your local Park Run. Mine is Hampstead Heath and I often am the tail runner there.
What is your favourite piece of running kit?
My Nike+ watch. For me stats are important in terms of being a motivator. I see the PBs, the distances travelled, average paces on the website, the phone app and the watch. Knowing I am adding to those stats, no matter how slow, or for how far, I am building something and that keeps me going.
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about running?
I could be cheesy and say the community, both online and in the real world, and it would be true for the most part. But I also want to be a little selfish and say my favourite thing about running is how it makes me feel. It makes me feel fit, fitter than I have for most of my life, and accomplished and, when looking back at how far I’ve come, or at the medal rack, it makes me feel proud.