In April 2016 my life changed, hopefully forever. How you may ask?
Well I didn't change a personal relationship or take a new job. I didn't find religion, I already found that a long time ago. The change came in understanding I needed to look after me. Not in an emotional sense, rather my body was beginning to show signs of getting old and I came to realise I didn't like that feeling.
To be fair, my beautiful wife was my inspiration, not that she told me to get to and fix things, rather she decided she wanted to be healthier and fitter and chose to take up running.
Between us, like any couple rapidly approaching 50, we have our fair share of medical challenges. For me I have a chronic condition known as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) sometimes I would have it under control , sometimes I just lived with pain, and on rare occasions it took control of me.
I could easily use it for an excuse not to exercise.
Neither of us have really been involved in any sport since we were much younger. My last sustained athletics attempts were High School. We both have physically demanding jobs, Joanne is a physiotherapist and I do construction work, and finding motivation to get fit was a low priority. Our main exercise for the past 3 years had been dog walking, couple of miles on a weekend and round the block on weekdays.
So with a wife motivated and determined to run a full mile, without stopping, I could either support with applause or go run with her. Thankfully my desire to protect her from unsavoury characters and wild bears prompted me to run at her side.
It was hard!
But of all the things Joanne could have chosen , running suited me best.
We are both tall , long legged so surely covering ground should be easy !?!
Early on we determined we had to be sensible and invested in appropriate equipment, even though we felt a little fake, returning home dressed like professional runners, but out of breath after just a mile !!
We bought decent running shoes, we couldn't risk unnecessary injuries. we bought GPS watches that monitor heart rate , we didn't want to run ourselves into hospital!
And of course we now both own various colourful items of clothing that contain Lycra.
Having the correct equipment does three things:
It makes you feel the part
It aids your performance
It motivates you to continue so you haven't wasted your money !
In quite a short time the single mile goal became a couple of miles. The once a week workouts became three of four times a week. The apps on our phones began to highlight improvements. We began to change our diet to suit our new life. Not only did my fitness improve but I found my general health did too. Finally taking an interest in diet and researching what I should eat became interesting.
I began to control my IBS rather than it control me.
We signed up for Parkrun events. Free 5k (3.1miles) held in local parks on Saturday mornings. Our first park run was a push, but we achieved a finish, only because we had built up our distance on every run prior to it. Yes there were a couple of times in that first event that we walked a short distance, But we completed.
So where are we now, nearly 4 months on.
I'm nearly a stone lighter.
My posture has improved , I stand a little taller.
I can feel every muscle under my flesh.
I eat a lot healthier, I haven't visited McDonald's for over 6 weeks.
From day to day I forget I have IBS.
My clothes are too big.
I feel 10 years younger.
My body no longer craves junk food.
I have more energy and stamina
I've lost my sweet tooth. I can eat two digestives if I want, but without wanting to finish the packet.
What I do crave is the chemical rush that comes from exercise and the sense of achievement from improvement.
So how far have we come with the running?
Since I started recording running sessions via an phone app called mapmyrun, my accumulative distance to-date is over 120 miles.
We now routinely run distances of 5k or more, around three times a week.
Joanne has entered us for a 10k (6.2 mile) race in Blackpool at the end of August. At first I thought it was a run too far, an un-achievable goal. But last night we completed out first ever 10k training run. We weren't quick, logging a time of 1 hour 12 mins . But we were alive, and impressed we can now run for 72 mins non stop,
It's fair to say we won't be going to the Rio Olympics this year. However we just may have improved our health enough to live a little longer and be fit and active enough to enjoy it more.
Anyone can get fit, running a 30 min mile or a 4 min mile is still running a mile.
So stop reading and go do some exercise!!!!
. Run . Walk . Cycle . Swim . Tennis . Football .