Running column: How children and work have helped my running urges
PUBLISHED: 16:22 20 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:22 20 November 2017
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Every runner has a story. The thing that spurred them to take up the sport and possibly even drives them to continue to do it.
And over the last few years, as increasing numbers of people have taken to running, I’ve become accustomed to hearing more and more of these stories.
Therefore, as I’m a mere guest on this page while Mark Armstrong enjoys some well-earned holiday, I thought I’d start by telling you my own running tale.
If you’d have told a teenage or early 20s me that two decades on I’d be a relatively serious runner with a London Marathon, numerous half marathons and many more races under my belt, I’d have probably told you to sling your hook and stop talking such drivel.
I’d had a few attempts at taking up the sport, but a succession of little niggles and an initial failure to really enjoy it saw each one very quickly fall by the wayside.
A few friends had taken it up and talked of how, once you got over the initial hump, you can become very quickly addicted, but I couldn’t imagine anything less likely to happen.
And then it did happen.
I can’t remember when exactly, but at some point in my early 30s, the little niggles disappeared, the nagging pain I’d get in my Achilles faded (and touch wood has never returned) and it all became a little bit less of a struggle.
It went from being a chore, to a pleasure - something I know many non-runners really struggle to comprehend.
I know now this was probably my body becoming conditioned to the new demands being placed upon it, and that’s why my advice to any new runner is always to give it plenty of time - because eventually it will become easier and worth it.
What really cemented my love for running, however, were two parts of my life which, ironically, gave me less free time, rather than more.
As my work hours have increased in recent years, the need for 45 minutes either before or after to blast it out of the system, has risen. Meanwhile, when I became a father for the first time four years ago, that desire increased.
I’m sure there are many reading this who recognise the urge for a bit of solitude and thinking time when you’ve had a repeatedly disrupted night from the newborn!
In fact, my old boss used to say he knew if I’d been for a run that morning as I’d come to work with a spring in my step, rather than looking a little tired and haggard.
With two young children now in tow and the job as editor of this newspaper, it’s definitely become harder to keep the miles up, but I’ve become well practised in the art of setting the alarm early, creeping out of the house under the cover of darkness and getting around the village and back before the little horrors have even realised I was gone.
It also helps to live around 10k from my place of work. A brilliant distance for all that all important Run Norwich training.
Meanwhile, over recent years, traffic gridlock in the city centre caused by ongoing roadworks has been a great spur to spend 45 minutes jogging in, rather than 35 minutes sat in a car going nowhere. I must be the only one thanking the powers that be for all that work.
As Mark mentioned last week, with winter upon us I’ve definitely noticed those miles on my Runkeeper have dropped off a little bit and the waistline has been accordingly impacted.
But once spring starts to re-emerge there really are fewer greater pleasures than trotting out the miles while enjoying the wonderful scenery this county has to offer... and it’s comforting lack of proper hills to overcome!