In October I ran the Amsterdam Half Marathon, yet this time last year I did not consider myself a runner - the most I had done was the odd 5km now and then sporadically over 3 years, and I didn’t enjoy it. So how did I get here?
At school I was not a sporty type, always finding strategies to avoid taking part. Looking back on it I realise that as stupid as it sounds no-one taught me how to run - there was nothing on technique, form, posture, stretching or strengthening exercises, you were just expected to know how to run and to get on with it. Maybe if someone had told me a few simple tips it would have been a different story.
I tried to get into running on New Year’s Day 2014, when, Kelly, a friend was trying to encourage as many people out as possible. It was wet, and I foolishly tried to run across the fields near my house which were so slippery I couldn’t run fast. I managed about 2km, and for the next month I tried to keep it up, but it soon fell by the wayside. I tried again a few times over the next 2 years but soon fell out of the routine.
It wasn’t until I moved back to Sheffield in December 2016 that I got the running bug. What was the difference? Hillsborough parkrun. I had existing friends who lived nearby who regularly did this event, they encouraged me and Liz ran with me on my first time. I’d been intending to do Rother Valley parkrun before I moved, but always felt I should be able to do 5km consistently before showing my face. I count this as the biggest mistake of my running journey - if you want to run get down to your local parkrun as soon as you can, do not think you need to be able to do the distance without walking. It’s one of the most welcoming, open, and judgement-free communities I have ever walked into, and week in week out I see it doing so much for so many.
Clockwise from Left: Running around Damflask in the Dark & White Spring Series, Start of the Dark Peak Trail Race with Kelly & Running the White Peak Trail Race with Liz
Once I’d got the bug it quickly took hold - the Resolution Run in January gave me a taste of running up muddy hills in the rain and soon led on to the Langsett 10k, which I still count as one of the highlights of the year and I fully intend on doing again this year. Over the spring and summer we did a number of Peak District Trail Races, and in April when Kelly announced he had entered the Amsterdam Marathon I commented how much I liked Holland and he sent me the sign-up link for the Half Marathon. Gulp. With a few more friends on board we entered, and before we knew it the event was on us - you can read more about this on my blog.
Left to Right: Andy and I before Amsterdam & Amsterdam: The relief of finishing - and a clean t-shirt
So what’s next? Well, I love trail running and am planning on entering trail races and taking advantage of the beauty of Rivelin and Loxley, but there is a small chance that the Tuesday lunchtime running club I helped start at work might result in my signing up for the York Marathon next October.
Did I just say that? But I’m not a runner…