I never feel like I’ve had a particular running journey, as such. I haven’t overcome major hurdles, injury, or anything like that. I was speaking at a LEAP Sports seminar a few weeks ago – mostly based on this blog that I wrote for LEAP a few years back – and went into a bit more detail there about how I’d got into running & why I’d stayed.
I wasn’t a particularly sporty child, but I played hockey & lacrosse at school & did lots of horse riding. I joined a gym as soon as I was old enough & have always enjoyed strength training, although back then was without a particular programme or goal in mind & just using resistance machines. I don’t actually remember that first gym having a free weights section, & I probably wouldn’t have used it if it did. I am envious of people just getting started who can find out so much info online or on social media.
When I moved to Glasgow – a place with more than one gym! – I continued to make a regular effort to work out, even in the student days. (I returned to the wonderful Stevie for a couple of years recently – it has changed beyond recognition.) But I rarely ran, although I still played hockey.
This all progressed into my early 20s & by that point I was a real gym rat; I spent most evenings at the gym five minutes from my doorstep. I wasn’t particularly healthy, as the weekends were spent working & drinking, but that is OK when you’re 23.
This all came to a halt when I was made redundant & had to move into a new place & find a job in a new city, alongside more disruption in my personal life. I had no time or inclination to exercise whilst I was sorting stuff out, & I was broke too so I quit the gym. Alongside working too many hours to eat well or exercise & getting used to a different lifestyle, I gained a fair amount of weight and wasn’t in a good place. I wasn’t unhappy as such but got stuck in a huge rut for a long time.
Joining Glasgow Frontrunners happened a few months before everything else slowly got sorted out – I got back to Glasgow, got a better job, life improved. I joined the gym again & learned how to lift heavy weights. Running got easier, slowly. I was less exhausted & could afford to buy decent food again.
I found out about Frontrunners through my job with the long commute & low salary, so everything has an upside. & now? It takes a proper look back to see how much better things are for me these days. Sometimes I do get despondent about whether I wasted some of my best years, especially given how exercise fits into my life now. There’s no revelation that you can’t sustain commute/work/pub/sleep on the daily for too long without it having an impact on life & health. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to get back on track, I suppose. Working hard is only part of it.
Things aren’t perfect now. I spend far too much money on gym memberships, trainers, meat, & protein ice-cream. My need to keep training when on holiday isn’t always well-received. Going to the gym or for a run after a long work day isn’t always easy to do. And I still wish I hadn’t had that break, or for such a long time. But I am so much better than I was five years ago, and I hope I am setting myself up well for the future. I don’t particularly care about how I look – I want to be strong, & healthy, & enjoy my life, avoiding injury or ill health for as long as I can. This becomes more relevant as I get older, aware of people my age & not that much older who struggle to get up a flight of stairs, walk a few miles or have general aches & pains. A lot of this is bad luck, of course, but I do want to do as much as I can to prevent this for me.