1990 – 1998
As a child, I would run everywhere. I actually found it difficult to walk as it seemed just too slow. Running meant getting to the park quicker so more time to play football. It meant getting to my best friend’s house quicker so we could hang out. It meant getting home quicker for dinner. I didn’t question the fact that I ran everywhere like some sort of smack head until one fateful evening running to my friend’s house.
The sun was setting and shining straight into my eyes as I ran across a park. Obscured from my vision was a taught guy wire running from the top of a telephone pole to the ground and I ran straight into it at neck height. To any onlookers it must have looked like I had just been shot as I went backwards and downwards before adopting the fetal position to work through the pain I was feeling. I gingerly got back to my feet and walked the rest of the journey.
1998 – 2003
These were my race winning years.
By this point corporal punishment had been banned in schools so the teachers came up with more imaginative ways to discipline the pupils. One of the most feared techniques was to wait until the coldest, most miserable day of the year and have a cross-country race. The cold was the cane. The distance was the belt.
Until it was the turn of my year I had never been in an actual race before and even though approximately 90% of the participants did not take it seriously and merely walked the course I decided to give it my all mostly in an attempt to stay warm. I absolutely smashed it and there was no one near me when I crossed the line. This was the first indication that I might actually have a little bit of talent for running. From that moment on I was absorbed into the school athletics team and competed on the track in the 1500m and in cross-country races. Although I did win races, I was definitely not one of the absolute standout runners in the country. I was asked to run for the local athletics club and to this day I don’t know why I didn’t join them. Typical for me when I was a teenager I just wanted to play football and see my friends so it is with a certain amount of regret that I look back and think what might have been.
During this time, because the other love in my life was planes, I joined the local Air Training Corp (ATC). You paid a mere fifty pence and in return you got to shoot guns.
Just after joining there was a cross-country race where all the regional squadrons were participating and my impression at the time was that we had a pretty embarrassing history in the race. So much so in fact that they were willing to pay the remainder of the subs for the year for anyone in the squadron that won. They clearly felt pretty confident that they would not have to dig into their pockets anytime soon. They had no idea that a better than average cross-country runner was now in their ranks.
The day of the race came and it was a typical Glasgow rainy day; perfect conditions for a cross-country race to separate the men from the boys. It wasn’t a p[particularly long race so I knew I could keep a high pace from the start and from about 100m in I was in the lead and that lead extended all the way to the finish.
Subs paid for the rest of the year, I went on to represent Scotland after a few more races at the national championships down at the home of the Royal Air Force, RAF Cranwell. It was here that I was well and truly beaten by some brilliant runners but was obviously proud of my achievements.
2003 – 2008
Throughout university I only ever ran at exam times and then only as a means to get some fresh air away from the books and try to combat the stress. The usual suspects of drinking, partying and studying meant that I could no longer count myself as a runner.
2008 – 2013
Apart from a year of travelling, it was off to the oil rigs of the North Sea and so any running that I did tended to be on the treadmill. I enjoyed high intensity running sessions when I found the time offshore after a long shift but would not count this as serious running. It was mostly away to stay relatively slim despite the abundance of food available offshore.
2013 – 2018
After moving onshore to become an office drone and part of the corporate furniture I came to the realization that sitting down all day was not the way to a healthy life. We have evolved to run, to climb, to jump, to move. I started to devote more and more time to running and could sense that my running legs were still there.
I trained hard to achieve a 38 minute time in the local 10k race and was determined to get down closer to 35 minutes. Niggling injuries forced my out of my trainers and into my cycling shoes and cycling basically took over for the next few years with barely any running.
With the birth of my second son and an increase in my workload I was finding it increasingly difficult to find time to get out on my bike and devote any time to it. Out of necessity I turned back to my original love of running as a way to get back some lost fitness in a more time efficient manner.
My next blog post will detail that journey from cyclist to runner to cyclist and runner.