Looking back on my running journey, I post this not to get praise or give myself self-praise but to give other people encouragement as to what can happen if you motivate yourself to train hard and run regularly.
For me at school (25+ years ago) I never liked running, I played squash on and off between the age of 20 and 30 but stopped completely when first child was born. Between the ages of 30 and 40 I was working mainly in offices, so I got more and more unhealthy with no meaningful exercise.
Fast forward to when I was 40, I made a comment about one day doing a parkrun but only if I could do it in under 30 minutes. My then nine-year-old son decided to call me chicken and told me I would never do it. This was probably the comment which got to me most and to quote a line from my favourite trilogy of films Back to the Future, “Nobody Calls Me Chicken”! From this point on I set out to prove my son wrong and do a 5K, and that was where my running journey was going to stop. Do one parkrun to prove my son wrong and get back to normal.
I did my first proper 5K (parkrun) on 20 April 2019, after a lot of huffing and puffing I managed to run the whole 5K in 29:46 I achieved my goal of under 30 mins. But my running did not stop after one parkrun. Fast forward to the start of Lockdown one, I had completed 34 parkruns (including a five-week injury break due to a badly twisted/sprained ankle) and at the last official parkrun I got a new PB of 23:26. In the same timespan I had managed to get my time for a 10K down from just over 1 hour when I did my first 10k in July 2019 to roughly 55 mins at Lockdown.
Moving into Lockdown one, Covid conditions and now Lockdown two, with the disappointment of my first half marathon event being cancelled and going virtual (LLHM), it would have been easy to lose all motivation and take a step back on the running, but I kept at it and despite all the stress and uncertainty and illness in April, my times improved.
During Lockdown, I ran 2 half marathon distances, both coming in under two hours and averaging 1 hr 54 mins. The first of these half marathons earned me the Virtual Landmarks Half Marathon medal.
In August I stupidly signed up for the Virtual London Marathon and finished this in 4 hrs 27 mins despite running on my own and in constant rain. I was also coming back from a leg injury which kept me from running for half of July and most of August.
My 5K and 10K times have improved even more. With my 5K PB at 22:26 (averaging 23:30) and my 10K PB is now 49:27 (averaging 52-53 mins).
So, let’s hope 2021 allows me to run some actual races rather than virtual. I have two half marathons already booked (Landmarks Half and the Chelmsford Half). I’m also in the ballot for the London Marathon but have the backup plan of the Chelmsford Marathon if I unsuccessful on the London Marathon.
In closing, I am the first to admit that I never expected my running journey and times to have gone quite the way it has. Up to 2019, I was never classed as fast or fit, and still struggle when people tell me that the 2020 version of Dan is both. But to all you runners (new and established) every one of you have your own running journey and you should all be proud of where that journey has taken you, and it’s true what so many people say, running really does clear the mind and has mental health benefits.
Connect with Daniel
Thanks to Daniel for sharing his running story! What’s yours? We’d love to know. Send an email to Caroline, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contribute to our blog.