Introduction - This is me

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Introduction - This is me.

Thank you for looking at my blog. I'm here to tell the world about my running adventures, the highs, the lows, the funnies, the tears, the injuries, everything in fact about my running life and what it is like for an older runner.

My story goes back to the autumn of 2014. I was working in an office in Bristol, which was about a one hour commute each way, apart from on a Friday when my journey time was usually around 1 ½ hours for the return home. I would sit behind my desk all day, talking on the phone and answering emails etc, then after I had cooked and eaten my dinner I would sit on my sofa and watch TV all evening. I was getting fat, lethargic and was experiencing lower back pain, particularly in the morning when I first sat up and found I was struggling to bend over far enough to even put my socks on. Something had to be done and I knew that this was something I had to do and not go to see my GP about.

On my C25K course at Tredegar House
One Saturday morning I was enjoying a leisurely breakfast and watching the BBC Breakfast news program when they showed a feature about something called Parkrun, where people get together on a Saturday morning at 9 AM to take part in a free, timed 5km run. This sounded like it was right up my street so I went on line and looked at the parkrun website, registered and printed off my bar code and the following Saturday I turned up at Tredegar House, Newport for my 1st parkrun.

Now I had no idea if I was capable of running 1 km or 5 km without stopping at this point, but I thought, what the hell, I'll do what I can do. Then I saw a post stuck into the ground with a sign saying, Beginners Here, so I went over and chatted to a guy who told me this was the beginning of week 5 of a 9 week couch to 5 km course, but I was welcome to join in if I wished, so I did. I didn't manage to run the full distance, but I did complete 2/3rd of it, and from there I went on to complete the full 5 km course 5 weeks later.

Cardiff half marathon 2015
Less than a year later I was running in the Cardiff half marathon 2015. I hadn't particularly lost much weight but my fitness had certainly improved and those aches and pains I'd had, particularly in my lower back had all but gone. But then my running all went pear shaped in the November when on a Tuesday night club run I pulled a calf muscle. I took advice from my fellow runners, bought a foam roller and rested the muscle, and then when it felt like it was better, about four weeks later, I went out for a run and got as far as about 3 miles when my calf went again. This kept happening and I just couldn't seem to get past 3 miles, and then I'd be off running for 4 - 6 weeks.

A fellow club member suggested that I see a sport massage therapist and a few people gave me contact details. Daniela was able to see me almost straight away and she immediately identified my problem, went to work on it and gave me advice as to what I could do to help myself. I saw Daniela every week until I was able to begin running again, and then she told me to probably only run for one mile and then only increase by 10% each week. This was going to take a very long time at only a 10% increase each week, but if that's what I had to do then so be it.

I had a few set backs along the way, including spraining my ankle at parkrun during the summer, but I was slowly getting there and by the autumn I was beginning to think that I may be able to take part in the Newport half marathon in early March, and so I took a gamble and registered for the race.

Winter training went well, race day came along and I managed to complete the race in 02:14, but one thing was now clear to me and that was that I needed to lose some weight, and so I joined Slimming World and a couple of months later I was 1 ½ stone lighter, and my running speed began to improve with it.

So I was 55 years old when I took up running. I remember a few of my old school friends commenting on Facebook about me being too old to take up running and to make sure I get an ECG to ensure my heart will be up to it. There had never been any family history of heart problems, and I felt fine. If there had been some kind of underlying problem then I'm sure it would have shown itself in my younger years when the RAF had me running around like a lunatic during my training.

Age is NOT a barrier to running. Existing medical conditions may possibly be for the older runner but, there are plenty of us "veterans" ( as the race and parkrun community like to call anyone over the age of 40), about and running frequently each week. When I ran the Great North Run I chatted to a lady of 74 years old who completed the race in under 2 ¼ hours. Amazing! I have also come across runners in their 80's also doing parkrun and longer races. Probably the hardest part about running sometimes is getting the motivation to get out and do it, particularly in the winter when it is cold, wet and thoroughly miserable.

I am still loving my running and am now beginning to take up coaching as I look to my future retirement, so I can promote running and help others to achieve their goals.

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