I began 2018 as an overweight non runner. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I had got as big as I had without realising it, in reality it probably snuck up on me as the only mirror in my flat is a little shaving mirror. As a child and teenager, I was always active and forever playing sport whether it was for local clubs, the school or the county. It didn’t matter whether it was football, rugby, cricket, tennis or athletics I turned my hand to everything. My problems began when I went to university. In my first year I was still playing a bit of rugby and some 5 a side football but to nowhere near the same level of activity as previously. In the 5 years or so after finishing university I dipped in and out of playing rugby after I moved to Scotland but that quickly fell by the wayside.
I knew I was overweight and needed to do something about it, although whatever it was be it attempts to watch what I ate or a very poor attempt at starting Couch 2 5K a couple of years ago nothing worked. Looking back, I realise that I was severely lacking in motivation and not appreciating how serious everything was. I ended 2017 by trying to do something about my weight and I started walking. I knew that I wanted to start running but I also knew from my abortive attempts previously that I needed to shift some weight before I started. The walking did well in starting to move some of the weight and I found that I suddenly had great motivation to do something about my situation. I was determined that at the beginning of 2018 I was going to attempt Couch 2 5K again and give it my best shot.
Couch 2 5K
I started the plan on 5th January at this point I struggled to run for 30 seconds, and when you start out in week 1 running 30 seconds and walking 90 seconds it can seem hard to figure out how in 9 weeks you are going to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. I had a few issues throughout the plan firstly in the middle of week 2 when I was starting to get comfortable the weather turned and we had snow and ice that I was not comfortable running on. After a week I was able to get back to running and everything went smoothly until I got to week 6. I struggled with week 6 and really struggled with the first run of week 7. After that run I missed about 3 weeks with a mixture of calf/shin pain and also the weather turned dreadful with the “Beast from the East” coming in. I was finally ready to go again on 11th March. I decided to re-start week 6 with the intention of dropping back to week 5 if it did not go well. Luckily for me everything went really well and I completed week 6 and week 7 with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Week 8 and week 9 went smoothly and I was even adding in an extra run or two each week to satisfy the running bug I now had.
Looking back on completing the plan I really feel that the structure of the plan really helped me in having the right mindset to complete it. The progress I made in how long I could run was a massive boon to my physical and mental health. The support of my family, work colleagues and even complete strangers on Instagram (many of whom were in the middle of training for marathons) was another major helping hand in completing the plan.
In 2018 I ran 2 10K races. After completing Couch 2 5K and really getting something from the structure of the plan I decided I needed another target to aim for.
The first 10K I did was the Men’s 10K in Glasgow in June. The race itself was a great deal of fun, I went into the day a little anxious as my race number hadn’t been delivered but I was able to pick up a replacement number really easily when I arrived at the start. The atmosphere amongst the runners was great even as everyone took shelter when the heavens opened prior to the start. Looking back I think I probably went off too quickly but you get caught up in the swarm of people and go along at that pace. I started to struggle when we entered Glasgow Green and managed to make it to the finish line in 54:00. I had 3 targets for the day in my head, the first was to run the whole distance without stopping to walk which I achieved. The second and third targets I had in my head were times I would like to run. My aim was to have run it in under 60:00 and my ideal target based on my training was to run under 56:00 so absolutely delighted with 54:00.
The second 10K I did was the Sport in Action 10K in Carlisle. I was down visiting my parents for the bank holiday weekend and thought it would be fun to do a run down there. I signed up for this race knowing it would be about half way through my training for the Great Scottish Run and I thought it would be a good indicator of how my training was going. My main goal with this race was to complete it without injury and I was aiming to beat the 54:00 I’d run at the Glasgow Men’s 10K in June. When I woke up to the weather forecast suggesting heavy rain and winds gusting up to 19mph I was prepared for the day to be a disaster. The registration process was really quick and easy and the race was brilliantly organised and marshalled. My biggest mistake of the day was to believe the weather forecast and run in my waterproof jacket, the promised rain never came and I overheated like crazy fairly early on but I kept at it (at least the jacket meant I was easy to spot in the photos after the race).
After completing my first 10K I had a similar thought to when I completed Couch 2 5K where I needed a new target to aim for, so I signed up for my first half marathon at the Great Scottish Run. This race was a goal race for me, I remember watching this race at my parents last year at the beginning of my weight loss journey thinking this was something to aim for. Having lost 6.5 stone in the last year my running had progressed much more than I would have imagined allowing me to take part in the half marathon this year. I went into the race with 3 targets for the race. My bronze target was to finish the race, my silver target was to finish in under 2 hours 10 minutes and my gold target was to finish in under 2 hours. I really enjoyed the race and apart from a little niggle in my calf that forced me to take a few walking breaks everything went pretty much to plan and I finished in 2 hours 1 minute.
Post Half Marathon
Following the half marathon my running drifted for a little while because I didn’t have a target to aim for. October and November was a bit haphazard in terms of regularity, distance and pace. December has brought about Run Up 2 Christmas which has given me a target and really re-ignited my motivation and desire to keep this progress going.
I am genuinely amazed by how this year has gone. I’m honestly a little bit surprised in myself that I was able to keep this up and progress so much over the year. If you’d told me at the start of the year that I’d have done 2 10Ks, a half marathon and be closing in on 1500km for the year I’d have called you mad. One thing I’ve learned about myself this year is that I respond best when having a goal to work towards. With that in mind I have some short and long term goals lined up for 2019 that I will share at New Year.