Monday, 20 December 2010

Even more of my mates run!

After discovering that all my mates run, it turns out that even more of mates run too! These ones are even less disciplined about keeping to the 150 word brief than the last lot.

Victoria Knott, hardened triathlete and occasional med student, is now finally recovering from a broken leg (I presume) sustained in pursuit of some mad off-road adventure on a bike or in running shoes... 
I run because it is faster than walking. It is cheaper than cycling, muddier than dancing and more extreme than swimming. It is more dangerous than tiddlywinks, wilder than chess and better for you than drugs.  
I run because it both proves your insanity and keeps you sane. It challenges you, brings you to tears, your knees and the top of the mountain. You battle the wind, experience the rain, get burnt and wear mud (often not much else).
I run to get lost.
It turns every weekend into an adventure and every evening into a victory. Without it there is a gap, life is mediocre, distinctly lacking blisters and endorphins. I run because no one has been able to stop me yet.
Try it. I dare you.

I spent most of my schooldays watching in muted despair and quiet admiration as Alex Boyd produced a constant stream of athletic, academic and musical achievements. And all the while being utterly charming, enviably tall and universally popular. Grr.
I run because... running is for all. There are only two pre-requisites: owning a pair of trainers, and an ability to put one foot in front of the other. It was a great pleasure for me to find a sport which does not require any hand-eye co-ordination whatsoever, a sport where suddenly the mediocre (or in my case slightly disastrous) rugby/football/hockey (insert any other popular team sport here) player can be GLORIFIED for simply walking – a skill I like to think I mastered by the age of two - quite quickly.
This inclusiveness has led to some truly wonderful moments, whether it be hugging complete strangers on crossing a finish line, spontaneously breaking into song with 100 other runners while going through tunnels or indulging in geeky split-time conversations without having to be told it’s “bad dinner chat”.
Above all, I completed my first marathon last year (I’m the slightly less handsome chap in Dave’s start-line photo of the Brighton Marathon), and the feeling of successfully overcoming a real physical challenge was hard to beat. I’m not sure I will do another one in a hurry – and I don’t think I could save the world without collapsing in a crumpled heap if it involved running 26.3 miles – but on crossing that finish line I was the proudest man in England. 
I urge you to give it a try. 

Jo Walczak's facebook statuses have almost as much running in them as mine, and an awful lot more cycling. Next time you're overtaken in a race somewhere in Kent by a woman with a determined expression and a charity running vest, you'll find it's probably Jo...
I run because... I can!  
When I was at school I was really bad at sport. I was always the last to be picked, and everyone groaned when I had to be on their team. I left school and never did any exercise. In my 20’s I would occasionally go to the gym, in my 30’s I did the odd exercise class. 
Then I was 40! I had a friend who ran the London Marathon really fast (3hrs 15 mins!). She kept on talking to me about running – how good it is, how anyone could do it, how a group of beginners she knew were now running 3 miles in one go! I knew it was going to happen sooner or later when she announced “There’s a beginners' course starting – why don’t you give it a try?” Oh crumbs I thought – she’ll never shut up if I don’t at least go. 
Day 1 we ran for 30 seconds and walked for 30 seconds, then ran again. You get the picture? I wasn’t even remotely recovered from the first 30 seconds when it was time for the next run/walk cycle. We ran round Knole House in Sevenoaks. On the far side of the house we met an elderly couple out for their morning walk. “Good Morning” they said – all I could do was grimace. 
I really don’t know what made me go back a week later. Perhaps it was the £80 I spent on running shoes. Perhaps there was something in me that me stopped from giving up after just one go. 
That was 7 years ago. I now run 3-4 times a week, at least 4 miles each time. I have run numerous races: 5k, 10k, 5 half marathons and the big one - the London Marathon in 2007. That was slow but hey, I did it. The best thing of all was that my Dad saw me do it. He was so proud. He died less than a year later of cancer but nothing can take away the pride he had in me. His daughter ran the London Marathon!  
So I run because, after all, I can run. Not fast but who cares about that? 

Jess Lane, a final year biologist at St Andrews, ran her first marathon in Edinburgh this year. She was perhaps misguided in that she asked my advice on training and suchlike, and unlike most people she was reckless enough to follow some of it. Her sister Erin features in My brother runs.
I run because... it’s too cold to walk in St Andrews!
As a break from essay writing and statistics, a walk along the beach is always the perfect option. However, in the cold St Andrews climate this once-pleasurable experience starts to be less so when the November weather begins. Therefore running becomes a more favourable option. I think running is a much better way to enjoy the fresh air but remain warm at the same time. A run along the beach when its coated in snow is a beautiful start to the day and a good excuse not to be in the library without feeling too guilty, I would definitely recommend it! In addition the chance to run through the world famous St Andrews Old Course when it is too cold for golfing is a special experience. 
I see running as a peaceful and refreshing chance to gather your thoughts, blow off steam or enjoy a catch up gossip if headed out with friends. It is my reprise from student stresses of endless essays, lab reports and drinking sessions! Although in the winter months it can be a challenge to get motivated I like the chance to escape the heating of the house or library and think running is the ideal way to stay toasty and enjoy the freezing St Andrews weather that is likely to be sticking around for a while! 

Vic, Alex, Jo, Jess, thanks so much for your very varied answers! You're all awesome. Everyone else, you're very welcome to contribute - email me 150 words (or considerably longer, if you're as badly behaved as these reprobates...) and I'll aim to get another post together in the next couple of weeks.

There'll be a couple more posts on here before the New Year: a wrap up of 2010, a draft of my 2011 race calendar, and almost certainly more of the usual tosh. Stay tuned.

Happy running!


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