Learning to walk

person wearing black low top sneakers and black jeans

So I was ready, geared up and a 1Km circular footpath right outside my door.  What could be easier?  well that’s what I thought, gotta be pretty straight forward, I’ll not try too hard, 2 or 3 Km and that’ll do.

Well on my first day (around 20 June 2017) I stepped out full of absolute dread.  I am so far from being an exhibitionist, will hide if I can from any sign that I might be front and centre – so what the hell was I doing dressed like a twit in the middle of a housing estate frankly not having a clue.  I’m 40 years old, surely I know better than to be doing this?

To be honest, in many other situations like this I would have slunk back into my house, maybe made a coffee and grabbed a biscuit and pretended nothing happened.  Hoping nobody had seen my brief moment of madness.  that would be it, file that under ‘tried it and didn’t like it’ and then move on with life, slowly growing ever bigger and just accepting it.

silhouette photo of person holding door knob
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

I can’t actually explain why I chose to close the door behind me and stride across the road to the footpath.  I guess i had some face to keep as I had bought the gear with my wife present and she too had decided to by a few bits so as to join me when she could – with kids this would mean taking it in turns but I knew what she meant.  So turning around would have seemed a bit of a quitter.

What’s the worst that could happen?  what actually would happen if somebody I knew saw me?  I did ponder this for a long time before I started and realised that to question 1 the answer could be ‘a painful death’ and to question 2 – well nothing, and hopefully they would see it as me trying to better myself and be encouraging.  That sounds reasonable and rational, doesn’t it?

So the phrase ‘sod it’ entered my head, my feet moved me to the footpath and that was it, I was going to start.

So what about the first time, well I ran most of the 1Km footpath circle unbroken.  stunned myself.  Slow as anything but who cares I had made a start.  I got back home slumped into a chair, drank a pint of water and thought, ‘well, I’m still alive, no heart attack.  I survived!’  Sadly my body was having a stern conversation with my brain asking it what the hell it thought it was doing making that happen, and asking it to promise never to make it happen again!

my body was having a stern conversation with my brainman couple people woman

I felt fine.  The world continued to turn.  my efforts hadn’t made a breaking news story on the national news and I wasn’t some hideous laughing stock of a viral YouTube campaign – it was fine.  I was fine.  It doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Actually I loved it after.  I’m a scientist by education and understand the whole endorphin thing and the fact that exercise like other things can generate a natural high.  I felt that high (just a little one) but a high nonetheless.  A little flicker from the brain saying ‘not sure what just happened there but I kinda liked it.  Might like to do that again’.

So why is this part called ‘Learning to walk’?  Well I soon found out that run 1 was a fluke.  A gold coated, diamond encrusted fluke.  I went out a few more times in the next

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
I felt gutted

week thinking I’ll trot out a few more Km’s, it’ll be great.  Well nope, next run I managed about 300m and thought I was going to die.  I felt gutted, but I walked for 100m or so and started running again.  a further 250m or so again I had to stop.  this carried on for 2Km.    Walk then run then walk …  this was a disaster, I can run 1Km solid how come I need to run and walk and can’t go more than a few hundred metres without stopping.  At this point after 2 or 3 runs like this I was a whisper from ebaying the running gear and pretending this never happened.  I thought I would try and find one of those mind wiping devices from the Men In Black movies.  I felt gutted.  I don’t like losing, I don’t like failing things – which is why I am so reluctant to try new things.  Failure feels embarrassing.

But this was far from failure.  I hit Google, searched for ‘How to start running’ and got some great ideas, but almost all said do walk and run.  Even to the point that you do very little running.  Then over time you do more running and less walking.

so that was it, I had to start by “learning to walk”

Once I accepted that this was OK I carried on trying, sometimes going out every day, just 15 minutes, walk, run, walk.  eventually walking reduced, running grew and after what was about 2-3 weeks I was running 2-3Km without walking.  I wasn’t burning up the footpath with any speed but I was moving, I was building a base, a foundation to grow from.  I could see that this could develop if I continued and worked at this.  I wasn’t sure what I did next though.  Do I just keep doing this round and around time and again for longer and longer?  What is too much?  How do I know what is too fast?  How hard should I try to run?  So many questions and no real idea where to find the answers.  Well obviously I knew Google knows everything 😉 but there’s 1.2Million different answers to most questions, so knowing the best one is impossible.   I decided to work things out for myself.

Part – 1 The best version of me

Part – 2 Learning to Walk

Part -3 Evolution not Revolution

Part 4: First Run

Part – 5 Me and Mo Farah

‘The best version of me’

I’m not a naturally confident person.  I am my biggest doubter and my biggest critic.  Ask my colleagues they would probably disagree, but I come across confident when around people I’ve developed a level of comfort with.  Put me in with a group of new people and I find things really hard.  I’m not boisterous or outgoing, I’m never the center of a conversation or the driving force behind a meeting.  I doubt my own opinions, my value and the person that I am.  I don’t really like how i look, I’ve always been bigger than I should be, and I’ve always been too conscious of other peoples opinions to do anything about it.  Which is odd, whilst I expect people would judge me for how I look, I thought people would judge me for trying to do something about it.  Why?  I don’t know.  People are strange things, complex, reliably unpredictable and don’t conform to a standard.

But that’s what I thought.  That was what was in my head.  It just was.  I had settled on always being this self doubting, unimpressive looking person since secondary school.  Change seemed unlikely.

So June 2017 arrives.  I’m still that person.  I’m married (for the second time) and have four children – all amazing individuals that I’m incredibly  proud of.  The youngest being only 3 months old at this point.  Something just switches in my head.  I cannot pinpoint the exact thing, the exact moment or trigger.  There were a group of things that conspired to make me feel, this is the moment, if not now it won’t happen.  Let me explain …

In December 2016 we moved to a new house.  A nice new build.  easy to look after, good location for work, schools etc, that whole family life thing.  I love the new house and very happy with the location.  It might be classed as the countries most ‘normal’ place (Didcot) but I like it.  My choice.  We are also located on the edge of a sports field (Boundary Park) and our front door pretty much opens up onto the footpath around the edge of it. (the picture is an aerial view of Boundary Park)

In January 2017 I turned 40.  I never believed in that idea that you hit 40 and you have that ‘epiphany’, that need to go and change your life.  Why should I.  40 is just 39 + 1, it’s doubley as good as 20.  It’s a number.  But it did fire a little rocket in my mind, it made me reflect, made me think ‘is this the best version of me’?

That paired with the fact that I noticed the old waistline creeping up made me decide if I don’t do it now I may never take the plunge.

So late June 2017 I rolled into a New Balance factory outlet, bought a cheap pair of trainers, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (all in large size) and took them home. That was the start of the journey …

Part – 1 The best version of me

Part – 2 Learning to Walk

Part -3 Evolution not Revolution

Part 4: First Run

Part – 5 Me and Mo Farah

Nick 26 June 2018

Post weekend downs

Its Tuesday morning.  I’ve not run since Sunday morning. Something feels weird. I’m not sure at what point I got to the stage where not running for 48 hours felt wrong. Where running 47Km at a weeekend wouldn’t seem to be enough for a lifetime, and where the dull ache in my thighs Monday wasn’t enough to tell me to just sit and watch the World Cup for the next 3 weeks.

Things have changed.

Things are different.

… in a good way, I think.

I guess this shows that I’ve got a new hunger to do something new. A feeling of wanting to achieve something different. Why that means not running for 48 hours is like a bereavement I don’t know. It just, well is !

A year ago a weekend was busy, kids, family, trips and well work too at times 😦  but then the urge to run rose in me  I’ll write a bit more on that back story somewhere else.

 

looking back I never expected a year later to have run a half marathon, run and actually win a 10K trail run and have 4 more half or full marathons booked 😮

The other day the absurd hit too  why don’t I run an ultra marathon.  Well that might just be a story for another day.

so back to point.  It’s Tuesday and my feet want to run.  Sadly I’m on a train to london to work so that’s not happening soon.  Work is busy so it won’t happen during the day.  Besides I don’t have my kit , and the days of running around in pants and vest when you forget your PE kit at primary school might just be over for me!  Not sure the nice folk of White City W12 would like that either 🤭

sonill manage to make this evening and do some then  I’m using a training plan now for Windsor half one september it’s one mapMyRun and the next workout (technically for tomorrow) is tempo runs.

Lets see how we go

I love running and the buzz it gives, partly because the gaps in between are filled with the excitement of the last run and the anticipation of getting back out.

RR

@runhappy #runhappy

 

The Start

I’m Nick and I’m a dad of 4 and a husband and a busy Operations Director in a Cancer research company in a London, UK. I took up running in late June 2017 aged 40 and thinking it was time to get active. This website contains some of my story, reports and records of my runs, achievements and races along with links to things I find useful.

I don’t expect anyone else to be that interested but if one person finds this of use or is inspired somehow to put on some trainers and get sweaty then that’s fantastic.

I’m also new to this website thing so this is growing and any ideas of things that might be useful to log let me know!

Good luck

Nick

Checkout my Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/nickbr4/