It’s probably not fashionable or very cool to admit this; but I love road marathons. There, I said it. Not to the exclusion of all other running… I’m also fascinated by track running, have twice run the CCC in The Alps, regularly turn out for my club over cross-country and continually wonder whether I have what it takes to tackle something like a Bob Graham Round… but ultimately my heart beats strongest for 26.2 miles of road. If I were to improve in only one running discipline, it would be the road marathon. I’ve now, however, accepted I’m not going to be as good a runner as I once was. For lots of runners this is a truth that’s hard to accept. For me, I’m actually quite happy about it. Why? Because I’m able to put everything into perspective.
A journey of transformation
Rewind 10 years and I was not in a good place. I was a smoker. I drank too much and my diet was appalling. I was overweight, unfit and very unhappy. The morning before Christmas Eve -which was the morning after the night before -a combination of stress and self-loathing led me to make a big decision. I knew deep down that I needed to get control of my life or risk watching it spiral out of control. That day I quit smoking, for good.
Just a few weeks later I tried something new… I cycled to work. Wow. As the weeks rolled by and the cycling miles ramped up, I began to feel better and better. I was not only losing weight but also gaining fitness at the same time. I was on journey of transformation… a journey that eventually led me to go for my first run. Soon I was hooked. First came a sub-two hour half marathon, closely followed by my first marathon.
It’s about why we run rather than how to run
All I could think about was running, and what I could potentially achieve. Curiosity had been replaced by obsession. I was now living a life in which everything was made to fit around running, be that training or racing. As a result, I continued to set new best times over all distances. Life was great.
During this time I met Julie, the woman I would later marry. I firmly believe the key to all of the things I’m now doing was marrying well. After a few years together, my wife and I decided to combine our complementary professional skills and our passion for endurance sports by launching Freestak.
With the new business going strong, and my running continually improving under the guidance of a coach, I began to prepare for a fourth crack at the London Marathon. Nine times a week I would lace up my running shoes and hit the roads. The result? A new marathon personal best of 2:37:07. To say I was chuffed would be a massive understatement.
A trip to The Alps followed. Julie and I ran around Mont Blanc, enjoying life on the trails of Europe’s most famous mountain and all the time wondering if there would be interest in a running magazine sharply focused of publishing stories about why we run, rather than how to run. Soon after, Like the Wind magazine was born. Nearly two years on and with six fast-selling issues under our belts, we are now an independent publisher.
Once a runner. Always a runner
And this, ultimately, is why I can now accept that I’m never going to be the runner I used to be. The growth of both businesses means my life priorities have changed. No longer does everything in life fit around my running…. instead it fits around business. And you know what? I love it. As runners of varying abilities, we all seek balance in our lives. That balance can change at different times of our lives, maybe once, twice, three times or more. Embrace it.
As for my running, well my passion remains strong and when I do find time to pull on my running shoes, I still love it. Recently I’ve raced an ultra in the Pyrenees, tackled two half marathons and continued to train around my London home. I know that I will always be a runner; I’m simply running less than I used too. I may not be the runner I used to be -and never will be -but that doesn’t matter. I run because I love to run.