I’m Simon and I’m an Average Joe runner. I’ve never run a marathon or a cross-country or fell race. I’ve certainly never done a triathlon. Dogs laugh at me as they sail past and ask “You call that swimming?”. I started running a few years ago when I was late to meet my better half for lunch. It wasn’t far, I wasn’t dressed for the occasion and I was seriously out of breath when I got there.
But it did get me thinking.
Maybe this was a good way to fend off the inevitable waistline creep of my advanced (mid-30s) years. Make no mistake, I started running for all the wrong reasons. I ran because I was too mean to spend money on gym membership. I ran so I didn’t have to be reasonable and turn down pudding. Or an extra helping of potatoes. Or a piece of that pie, gosh that looks nice, may I have a bigger slice?
I managed a few hundred yards my first time out before I had to stop to walk. The next time it was a bit further. After not too long, I could do 3km and then 5km without stopping. I was still being overtaken by old ladies and small children but I started to feel more like a runner instead of an ambulance magnet. I signed up for a 10km race and over-trained and got injured and learnt an important lesson – go easy on yourself. By all means set yourself targets but make them sensible.
So now I’ve become someone who runs regularly – a few times a week, including a long(ish) run on a Sunday. I try to do a 10km race a couple of times a year because the race atmosphere is amazing. There are always faster and slower runners but the sense of coming together to share pain is wonderful. I have, amazingly, become someone that other people look at and think “He looks like a proper runner”. I know this because they’ve said it and I’ve had to suppress a little smirk as I think to myself “If only you knew”.
Above all, I have come to love running. I didn’t love it for quite some time. It was a means to an end and it hurt. Then one day it didn’t hurt quite so much. Not long after that I found myself settling into my stride and relaxing and starting to enjoy it. The sense of freedom, of me-and-my-running-shoes, is unbeatable. I have become someone who wakes up on a cold and rainy morning and gets excited about going out. I get tetchy if I miss out on a run. I can talk about form and heel striking and barefoot running and sound like I know what I’m talking about. But, secretly, I’m just an Average Joe who never got the hang of portion control.
I’m very excited about being part of ShoreFit. I first got involved because, although I enjoyed my solitary runs, I also liked the idea of having some company on those long sea front routes. I met a bunch of like-minded people (some faster, some slower) who I enjoyed hanging out with on a Sunday morning. So when Dave asked me if I’d like to do the UK Athletics Run Leader qualification it made perfect sense – the opportunity to give back some of what I’ve got from running. The chance to say to people who were where I’d been “It doesn’t always hurt like this you know – you’ll feel like a runner one day – I promise”.