Run Anglia: Iwan Roberts on why he runs and how former Norwich City chief David McNally made him hit the wall
Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts reveals how running helped fill the fitness void after retiring from football
How did you get into running?
If I’m being honest it was to keep the weight off. I get to the gym most days and do a 10K on the treadmill at least. My body has just got used to doing that now. Since I finished playing in 2005 I’ve used running to keep the weight off – I’ve just wanted to maintain some level of fitness. Within about a year of finishing playing in 2005 I went up to about 17 stone and I thought to myself if I carry on like this then in another year’s time I’m going to be 20 stone. I had to do something about it and it’s just helped keep me fit and keept the weight off thankfully.
What’s been your favourite event you’ve taken part in and why?
I did Run Norwich last year with my wife, Lou, and we both really enjoyed it – it’s a great event for the city. A close second to that is the Norwich Half Marathon five years ago – I managed to get round in 1:31. I think that’s the fittest I’ve been since I finished playing. I was doing nine or 10 miles runs most days in training.
What’s the biggest event you’ve taken part in before?
The London Marathon, undoubtedly - I did it for the Community Sports Foundation and to say I learned a few lessons from it would be an understatement! I started slightly quicker than I should have. I had played in a charity football match a few days before because I didn’t want to let anyone down but it probably wasn’t the best preparation for it. I got to Canary Wharf and at the 17-mile point I just completely hit the wall – I was in a bad way. It just got to the stage where if someone had offered me £1m to run a mile then I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I just had to walk most of the rest of the way. It was the strangest feeling. I had nine miles to go – it didn’t matter what I drank or ate there was just no coming back from it. I was my own worst enemy really because (former Norwich City chief executive) David McNally was doing the race as well and I wanted to beat him. I saw him afterwards and he asked me how I got on and I explained how tough I had found it. All he said was ‘well I thought you had gone off a bit fast.’ – I just thought ‘well, thanks for telling me!’ I used to watch the London Marathon on the television and see people struggling and I just thought ‘come on, just get it done’. But having gone through it myself I completely understand how tough it is!
What gadget/item of clothing could you not go without?
I rely on my Garmin watch a lot when I run. I remember talking to a friend of mine and he said you just put your trust in your watch because that won’t lie to you when it comes to your pacing. He was right and that’s how I got such a decent time at the Norwich Half.
What are your running goals for this year?
I’m hoping to do Run Norwich again this year – I want to take it a bit more seriously this year. I’ve done 10Ks before in around 45 or 46 minutes but I would like to get it down to around 43/44 minutes.
Do you ever find it hard to gain motivation to run? If so, why?
I have days when I can’t be bothered – doesn’t everyone? Because I work most weekends I do like to try and go for a run on a Sunday – anything between 10 and 12k. If I’ve been for a few beers with Hucks (Darren Huckerby) the night before then it can be a struggle. But once you’ve got your kit on and you’re out there then it normally comes together.
Who do you look up to, running wise? Why?
It’s got to be Hucks - whatever distance you’re talking about – he’s good at it. Norwich City fans will obviously know how quick he was during his playing days but he’s very good over distance as well. He can run between 38 and 39 minutes for a 10K no problem and he’s 42 now. If he did a marathon he’d easily go under 3:30.
What would be your best piece of advice to other runners?
With running I think you have to give it a chance – I don’t think anyone loves it every single time they go out. People can throw themselves into it too much and give up after three or four weeks. Ease into gradually and when you start seeing the effect it has on your body that’s when it gets quite addictive.
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