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Why I run: Broadcasting legend Malcolm Robertson used to loathe running at school but a lot has changed over the years

Malcolm Robertson after the Sandringham half marathon. Picture: Malcolm Robertson

Malcolm Robertson after the Sandringham half marathon. Picture: Malcolm Robertson

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Broadcasting legend Malcolm Robertson used to loathe running at school but a lot has changed over the years...

Malcolm Robertson after completing a parkun Picture: Malcolm RobertsonMalcolm Robertson after completing a parkun Picture: Malcolm Robertson

How did you first get into running?

Given how much I hated cross country running at school when we had to run along the stones on a disused railway line in plimsolls, it’s surprising that I had any interest in running. But it was a good way of getting a level of fitness for new local football seasons. In my early 20s I was a heavy smoker and one particular pre-season run shocked me with how wheezy and breathless I was, so I have running to thank for immediately giving up smoking.

What do you like/dislike about running?

I like the freedom that running gives you and psychologically it’s the sense of well-being I feel when I’ve been for a run, particularly when I’ve looked out of the window and thought ‘it’s too cold, too hot, too windy, too cloudy, too bright’ and every other lame excuse you can think of not to do it. Also I like the fact that if you’ve been for a run, you feel less guilty about having an extra glass or an extra helping. There’s a nice camaraderie among runners, so not much to dislike really. I suppose the only thing is that – for me personally – I seem a lot more prone to muscle aches/strains as I get older.

Robert Lambert talking to ITV Anglia's Malcolm Robertson. Picture: Ian BurtRobert Lambert talking to ITV Anglia's Malcolm Robertson. Picture: Ian Burt

What gadget/item of clothing could you not do without?

A very old pair of Ron Hill running shorts. I’ll really miss them when they finally run out on me. Years ago on holiday in Kos, I saw Ron Hill out running in blistering heat preparing for the Athens marathon. A great insight into an elite runner. I suppose the shorts I later bought made me think I was Ron Hill!

What’s been your favourite event that you’ve taken part in?

My favourite event was a half marathon on the Sandringham estate; favourite because it was my first event at that distance. Pretty tough because the runners weren’t told beforehand that the course was extended by a few hundred yards because waterlogging had forced the organisers to alter the end of the course. Thinking you were about to finish and then realising there was another half a mile to run was psychologically pretty tough.

Do you ever find it hard to gain motivation to run? Why/why not?

I’m not a natural runner and although I enjoy the benefits of running, I’m not sure I could honestly say I enjoy running, so yes I do sometimes find it hard to get motivated – hence why I get a real sense of satisfaction after I’ve been out for a run when I really didn’t fancy going.

What are your running goals for this year and why?

I have to be a realistic about my running. For the last three years I’ve been troubled by a condition called polymyalgia which at its worst caused me to stop running and its best made it pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully, steroids have helped and I’m pain free at the moment. I’m looking forward to Run Norwich. I’d entered for the previous three years but for a variety of reasons didn’t get to run one of them, so hopefully will break my duck this time!

Have you had to change your training regime as you’ve got older?

I’ve run a lot less in recent years because of that rheumatic condition, but I hope to do more parkruns. Realistically, because of my age shorter events are the only likely targets. I’ve never run a marathon and doubt I ever will. I admire everyone with the commitment to do them, it’s just that I’ve never felt motivated enough to do those long, hard runs on cold winter days.

What is your best piece of advice to runners?

I’d feel a bit of a fraud trying to offer advice to anyone – but it would definitely be don’t start a run too quickly. 
Not something I usually worry about as I’m very one paced. I once started a Norwich half marathon trying to keep pace with a friend who was a much better runner, and really suffered later on.

Is there anyone you look up to running wise?

Neil Featherby. I remember him winning the Norfolk marathon year after year during the 80s, and was in awe of his commitment to the sport. He still runs twice every day and looks as fit now as he did when he was in his prime and competing for Great Britain. Neil can be a hard task master and I can well imagine his reaction to me saying I’m not sure I’d be prepared to put in the hard miles training for a marathon. But then that’s why he’s a champion and I’m just a gentle plodder!

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