I have recently started to enjoy running. And this is how I’ve got here.
1975 to 2006: Not running. At all. Fitness through squash and a little bit of horrible gym stuff.
2006 – 2010: Started to learn taekwondo. Tried to run for fitness. Tried C25k. Tried barefoot running (helped hugely with shin splints). Tried various shoes. Not fun. Running around the Thames is beautiful, but lots of tourists. Ultimately, not running regularly or well.
2010: Taekwondo first dan grading. Required me to run a bit over a mile. Trained for it. Managed it. Didn’t enjoy it or sustain running after it.
2012: Taekwondo second dan grading. Required me to run faster than my first dan grading. Better training this time, but still bad and still no regularity.
2014: Taekwondo third dan grading. Required me to run faster again. Better training again, but still bad. Started trying to run home from work (3 miles). Managed the whole thing without stopping maybe twice. Managed the whole thing in less than 30 minutes precisely once. Running goal clarified: I really wanted to be able to run 5k in under 30 minutes. Left job. Went travelling. Didn’t run for the rest of the year.
2015: Set a goal: run 5k in under 30 minutes 3 times by the end of the year. 6 weeks with a treadmill in New York in the spring and got up to 20 minutes with, for the first time, pleasure. Listening to podcasts. Enjoying the exercise. Returned to London. Half hearted running around some yoga classes, but keeping near the 20 minute mark for a couple of months. October: remembered the goal! Panicked! Joined a gym. Ran 3 times
a week. Focussed on not pushing too hard and not injuring myself. Fitness I gained helped in my taekwondo training (surprise!). Run 1: 12th December (29.51, but I’ll take it). Run 2: 16th December (under 29 minutes. Yes!). Pulled my calf muscle in taekwondo. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Repeat. Run 3: 29th December (approx 29 minutes, with a painful calf). Mission accomplished!
2016: New goal: run 5k in under 30 mins at least once in every month of the year. Consistency is now key. So far, I’ve run 5k in every week of the year.
My main learnings:
- Set goals with the right intentions and they really can lead to the result you want. I’d put ‘run 5k’ my goals for years, but the three times thing in 2015 was the thing that made it solid, and the under 30 minutes element made is specific.
- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation really works.
- Running can be pleasurable!
- Without taekwondo I wouldn’t have bothered. I love taekwondo.
- Barefoot running is worth trying if you suffer with shin splints. But take it easy.
- I am motivated by tracking my running. A running watch has really been motivating and worth the money to me.
- Treadmills and podcasts can be a really cool combination, especially if you don’t get a commute.