Today, there are many reasons why I get out and run: to get (and stay) in shape; to explore new places and areas; as a challenge to myself; and many more! It’s fair to say that I’ve had an on-off relationship with running over the years – but I’ve a greater interested in the sport Today than I’ve ever had.
More than anything, my personal running journey is mostly about how it’s never too late nor a bad time to get back into running and achieve your goals.
My journey in running started back in 2004 – an 11-year-old in my first year of high school – with the joy of an inter-form cross-country competition at school. Besides knowing I needed to get from A to B before anyone else, I really had no idea what to expect. But anyway, to my surprise, it turned out I wasn’t half bad and ended up winning the race. I guessed it must have been down to fitness from playing a lot of football.
It wasn’t until I went along to a second cross-country race, this time against other schools in the area, that I started to think I could actually be quite good at this. Again, with no real idea of what to expect, I finished first.
At this point I thought it best to join a running club – not only to get better at running but at this point mainly to supplement my fitness for football. I guess you could say I stumbled across the sport.
By the Summer of 2005 I was part of an official running club – competing in middle-distance track (400m-1500m) as well as cross-country over the winter season. I had become properly dedicated to the sport, training/competing 3-4x a week. The competition between athletics and football had concluded for now, with athletics coming out on top. Football very much on the backburner.
For the next 3 years my life outside school was very much focussed around Athletics and Running. I was up and around the country for competitions up to a national standard, and the PBs were coming in thick and fast.
It came to a stage towards the end of Summer 2007 that I was put into a 2012 Development Squad for young potential hopefuls for the London Olympics. A whirlwind 3 years with some real exciting opportunities down the road. This, by far, was the peak of it all.
If I now fast forward to 2009 – things were all a little different. I had a string of injuries which had me out of action for a long time. No consistency in training without getting injured and I was swiftly losing the fun side of the sport. Ultimately, I decided to take break from running to let my body recover before making a decision whether I continue competitively or not.
An Extended Break
When I first put a pause on running, I must admit it was bliss. No more aching muscles, my feet were most definitely thankful, and I had quite a bit more time to pursue other hobbies.
Overall, the break was a little longer than intended – about 7 years in all – which gave plenty of time for any fitness I had to disappear and for the waistline to grow! I guess it was primarily the sight of the extra pounds on the waistline that made me lace-up again and get running. The simplicity and accessibility of running made it the perfect sport to pick up with a busy lifestyle.
It was 2017 that I got back into running again. The focus shifted from middle-distance to 5K+. But this time I was determined to learn from my previous mistakes. So I set out with much more attention to rest, to recovery, to supplementary exercises and to enjoying the process of progression. If there’s any advice I’d give someone looking to start or get back into running, it’s to make sure you have fun and enjoy it!
I may not be quite as quick as I once was (yet), but I’m enjoying running so much more and have a better understanding of all areas of the sport which helps me train much smarter. I can probably say that I’m as proud of some of my achievements now as I was back when I was competing at a much higher level.
2020 was a bit of a write-off for everyone with respect to racing, but a fantastic chance to get out and run more than ever. With any luck, 2021 will be much better for us all! Despite having what seems to be the most un-ballotable name (now 4x unsuccessful for London Marathon and 4x unsuccessful for Landmarks Half), I’m booked in for 2 HMs so far for 2021 and will be looking to complete 1,500km for the year!
Everyone has their own running story, but I guess mine is a bit of a project restart. What I’ve come to learn is that no matter the individual journey through the sport, the key is to be proud of your individual achievements and to enjoy it in the process – that’s real success.
Connect with Fraser
Thanks to Fraser for sharing his running story! What’s yours? We’d love to know. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contribute to our blog.