Why Do I Run?
Surely, if you want to travel at a pace quicker
than walking pace, you can drive (assuming you have enough money
to afford a car, insurance, petrol, a yearly MOT and have passed
the not-hugely-realistic test).
If you want to take time over your journey,
leave earlier and walk at normal walking pace. If you are running
you begin to think you are going to be late which puts stress
on your mind as well as your knees. If you don't have the money
for a car, you can get a bicycle. Use public transport. Find someone
else going to the same place as yourself and snatch a lift.
There are a vast number of good reasons to not
need to run long distances. Therefore, why do it?
To be honest, there are few times that you really
need to run long distances at all. The issue comes when you want
to and what is your motivation. For me, there was one main drive
which came in four forms:
I will explain the background details first. As a young, scrawny
lad who did very little athletically in his younger years, I never
had the physical build to be school champion in the wrestling
competitions, the height to become a high-jump supremo or the
muscle and flexibility (and nationality) to become the next Russian
So, naturally, I took to running and jumping.
Initially together in the form of the triple jump. But with short
legs, it soon became apparent that the triple jump was more of
a hop-skip-and-fall-before-reaching-the-sand-pit kind of event
whilst I was participating.
So I turned my attention to running. Between
the ages of 14 and 16, I must have run for around four hours a
week on average (yes, there were periods of sustained rest, such
as the Football World Cup, or exams!). Not much you may think
but, coupled in with school, watching TV and being lazy, wasn't
too bad. As I realized I had quite a bit of stamina, I began to
want to test myself against others. More than that, I began to
want to win.
Every school sports day, when we had to choose an event, no one
would go for the 1500 meters and so someone was always made to
do it. The event, when the time came, was full of people who didn't
want to be there and usually faked an injury at some point in
the second lap to get out of any more running. I saw this as an
opportunity. An opportunity to win, to become the best in the
field at something.
Unfortunately, so did a fellow student of mine
and it became a bit of a rivalry in the build up to the next year’s
event. I wasn't running for any other reason than to beat him.
To stand on that make-shift podium constructed from milk crates
and old school doors. To hold that floppy, printed certificate
proving I was the best 14 year old 1500 meter runner at the school
After the rivalry fizzled, what with my competitor
concentrating on his best events, the sprints and the javelin,
I began to look at the school record. The more I timed myself,
the more I realized I could take it. My motivation had changed.
I trained. I trained hard. I would run slowly in the first session
of the week for a couple of hours. Then the next one, pick up
the pace. And so on. Until by the end of the week I was almost
flat out around the lap. Initially, I was almost dead after 2-1/2
laps. But with persistence, I got there. I was recording times
that were easily inside the school record.
Then, one of my biggest disappointments. I had
worked hard to get to the point where I could go for this record
on sports day, only to find that year 11s wouldn't be taking part
in sports day, since it took place during the GCSE exams. I had
worked for what seemed like nothing. For a while it seemed like
a waste, but then I realized something else. I was working towards
someone else's target. Why not make my own?
The prize was no longer first place in school sports day, or capturing
the school record. It was to beat my PE teacher. You may think
that a strange goal and I accept that it wasn't the most admirable
achievement in the history of competitive running by a million
four-minute-miles. But to me, it was what drove me. He was a serious
runner and would absolutely thrash us in lessons when we would
do laps of the football field in lashing rain and stinking rugby
tops that had been squashed in the bottom of our bag since last
week, when it rained too (I was brought up in Plymouth... it always
rained!). So in the one lesson when, after a good 2-1/2 years
of trying, I managed to keep up with him for the whole hour’s
lesson, I felt a sense of achievement. I never had time to run
competitively outside of school, so to me, that was competition.
Now, running is all about setting my own targets.
Whether it’s being able to get to the superstore in under
five minutes, or seeing if I can run the length of the local cycle
trail. Whenever I have the chance, if I can set myself a realistic
but challenging feat, the satisfaction and enjoyment that follows
once you've accomplished it is unmatched.
Thanks Simon for sharing your article.
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