Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What motivated you to start running?

Was the dailymile mission for the day.

A year ago it was a conscious decision to change aspects of my life. That is the point from which I see myself gradually "becoming" a runner.

A few years previously I'd toyed with jogging/running, but with no real desire/ambition/enthusiasm or point. I'd try for a couple of months then "forget" about it for considerably longer. I'd tell myself I wanted to lose weight, get fit or "do" a marathon (so I could chalk it off "the list"), but never really believed in the reasons and was more than happy to let a couple of vague attempts at starting drift away to nothingness with nothing to motivate me.

Back end of 2009 I was feeling unhappy at work, under stress, panic stricken and not very able to talk about it. I'd have a few drinks to try to combat the issue, but knew that wasn't really going to work and that ultimately the depressive aspects of the alcohol only made some days worse. I wasn't drinking to excess (far from it), but was using it to try and control things in my life. For Christmas that year I asked for a 10wk introductory tai-chi course, which suddenly made a wonderful difference. Although only once a week, I started to feel a lot better about myself and it helped combat some of the issues and self-doubt that were getting on top of me. The feeling of calm and balance it brought to my life also convinced me to jog again - only a couple of miles here and there, but it ignited a sense of wanting to be healthier in body and spirit, and an appreciation of what I did have in my life.

I then woke up one morning and ran 5miles thoroughly enjoying every moment of it, and then awoke the following the day to the inaugural Brighton Marathon. Hadn't really registered that it was the day and stumbled onto it by accident, but watching it was wonderfully inspiring and actually quite an emotional experience.

A few weeks later turning 37 I decided "doing" a marathon was a far cheaper way to deal with an impending mid-life crisis than buying a sport car, getting a pneumatic blonde, or even taking up cycling. Watching the race, made me want to share in that experience, and ultimately be able to say "I'd done it".

Hitting 37 got me thinking about life as well, wanting to be healthier, fitter and to be an active inspiring father to my children. But...

...running for the last year has taken me far beyond these initial thoughts and one-off goal.

In the last year I think running has made me a far happier and centred person, I think I'm enjoying and appreciating life a lot more, and I'd like to hope/think/dream that I'm a better father, husband, brother and friend, but that's for others to say.

I've found that rather than just wanting to "do" a marathon and chalk it off the list of life's experiences I love the freedom and feeling that running brings me. I know I'm fitter, but also know there's a long way to go physically to improve. I ran my first marathon at Brighton in April 2011 one-year after watching the inaugural race, and while it was not the race I wanted, it will most surely not be a one-off. The second marathon is paid for and training awaits, but I won't stop there, I will keep running marathons and keep the sense of pleasure and fulfilment it brings, long gone are the days of simply wanting to "do" a marathon.

The last year has taught me to challenge myself, to push the boundaries of what I can achieve, to keep the demons at bay, and realise that in most of life as in running, its not about competing against others, its about running against myself.  All I can hope is to be a better runner today than I was yesterday; likewise if I can be a better person than I was yesterday than I can say I've achieved something. It's not easy, but then its not supposed to be.

The challenge, the drive, the persistence, the relief, the satisfaction, the accomplishment and the happiness is where motivation now lies, and while it's taken 37years and an expensive pair of trainers to realise it, I'm glad I have.  I want to be better and I will become better. I want to be healthier, fitter and there for my children as a strong active father they can be proud of.

Running has started to crystallise this and bring substance to what was previously easily said, but seldom done.


  1. Great job! Fantastic journey! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm older but run for many of the same reasons. Great story. Love this site and the videos.