My Running Journey and What Keeps me Motivated to Run

My running journey started with Couch to 5k. I had no idea what I was doing and have gone on to run sub 3 hours in the marathon.

I was relatively active as a kid, but lacked direction and motivation to do anything. My confidence was very low and I sat in my room all day playing video games. The future looked bleak, having struggled in school and not knowing what to do.

In 2013, however, I decided off a whim to start running, to try get out more. Little did I know at the time, this would lead to what we have achieved today.

In the beginning, I was very competitive. After running my first 5k I signed up for my first 10k. As a result, I got lots of injuries and niggles that hampered me for months. I was incredibly impatient and wanted results immediately. I put this down to having finally found something in life I thought I was actually good at, and bowled over with enthusiasm in wanting to see where it could lead.

It took around a year to realise the key to success in distance running is consistency. Run consistently and do a variety of sessions to get stronger and faster. Likewise, it took around a year to realise I would progress based on my natural ability, and wasn’t destined to reach a certain standard.

Over the first two years, I ran mostly 5k’s and 10k’s, going from 20:46 to 17:51 and 40:48 to 37:25 respectively. I was training around 30/40 miles per week with a couple of speed sessions each week. I ran consistently, on average 6 days per week upping my weekly mileage to 50/60 by end of 2015. A typical week consisted of easy runs, long runs and varied speed sessions aimed at getting faster.

In 2016/17 I started taking running more seriously. I hadn’t just found I liked running because I was good at it, it also helped make a key decision to embark on a career change. In 2017, I increased my mileage to 100 miles a week on average and clocked up 5000 miles. My race times as a result progressed to 16:24 for 5k, 34:17 for 10k and 79:33 for half marathon from 82:11. The key to running this much I base on enjoyment of the journey. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t have run that much.

In 2018, I moved up to the marathon, running the Manchester Marathon. I ran 2:56:30 in my first marathon and qualified for the London Marathon with a Good for Age time. It was a great moment, the final piece of the jigsaw of couch to marathon and couldn’t wait to see what lay ahead.

I ran the London Marathon in 2019, and more recently the 2021 Chester Marathon. Sadly, I DNF’d after 19 miles. Meantime, I ran a new half marathon personal best of 75:30 and 5k of 15:50 in 2020/21 and believe I can get faster.

My motivation to run

Running for me is my outlet at showcasing who I am, which I couldn’t do when younger. I view running more a tool for personal development with things learned helping you progress in life overall. It’s the experiences I run for I can use to benefit myself and others.

Through running, I’ve learned how to deal with setbacks, manage patience and discipline, and how to set goals. Where before I wouldn’t manage negative situations in the right way, running’s taught me that bad things happen. The key is acknowledging them and looking to the future. My strength of character has improved enormously as a runner, which drives me to keep going to get even better.

To stay motivated to run, I always have races lined up. By signing up for races, you have something to aim for and a reason to train. Whenever I complete a race, I immediately start looking for the next one to keep me focused on training. I’m quite selective of late concerning the races I run. I run a lot of races as ‘training runs’ and have one or two each year where I’ll push for my main goals. I always refine my goals, changing them all the time. This keeps me on my toes and mixes up my training, keeping me motivated to keep going.

Being technical, in using social media I find is great, as you can see what other runners in the running community are doing. You can follow their running journeys and share what you enjoy doing with other likeminded people, which I love doing. If you feel like you’re struggling with your training, there’s probably someone else going through the same, so you can support one another. You’ll feel part of something a lot larger and positive and form new friendships as well.

A mantra is something I adopt. My mantra is ‘do what is needed’. When I’m running, I am doing what is needed, for me to get where I want to go and to be who I want to be. I’m working on myself and doing what is needed to achieve my goals in life. Running is the stepping stone to get there.

Sometimes, my training does nosedive. This can happen after a big race especially when it didn’t go to plan. In this instance, I do a factory reset. I get all my recent training plans and get rid of them. I now start again, doing whatever, whenever, building new momentum and consistency. I’ve done this a few times, and it can take anywhere from weeks to months. But it helps refocus the mind and rediscover the enjoyment of running.

The key is enjoyment. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. If not, mix it up. Look for new challenges and share your journey. You will probably inspire someone somewhere, and they’ll reach out and let you know.

I won’t be able to run at the level I do now forever, but as long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll keep pushing and doing what is needed.

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