We all start somewhere. Why do we start running? My running story started back in primary school.
The Early Years
It was clear I wasn’t fast when I was a kid. In primary school races were short and I was a tail ender. I wanted to be quick, but it didn’t take too much enjoyment away. I still loved sport, even if I thought I wasn’t very good at it.
At 12 years old I had my first hint there was something in running for me. I did the school cross country. I didn’t win, but 2 points stuck out:
- I really enjoyed the run
- I didn’t feel I could run faster, but felt like I could run again
Over the next few years I didn’t do anything with running beyond the yearly cross country in high school. Each time the above two points were reinforced. Because of this I went on a few extra runs up and around the local park. Then my knee hurt.
A doctor and podiatrist later had me in some orthotics and a suggestion to not run for a while. That I took up and played table tennis instead.
Running Calls Me
At the end of high school I rediscovered running. At first it was just a means to add some fitness around my table tennis training. Running soon took over. Albert Park Lake was next to where we trained and the different squads would run a lap. Somehow I joined the different squads for their runs. Each run was about 5km, and I would do 2 to 4 in a day once or twice a week. It took others to point out it was a lot of running.
Around this time my Dad asked me, “You like running and maps don’t you?” A few minutes later I found myself up the road in my first orienteering race. I got lost.
A few more orienteering races. I didn’t get lost as much. Why not try a road race? The Victorian Road Runners offered a 10km race at Westerfolds Park. It seemed like the distance I should run for some reason. So I did.
It hurt. I struggled. I blew up. I crossed the finish line hurting. It was absolutely fantastic. Wanting more, the next obvious step was to run a marathon.
It was 1996 and I was toying with the idea of running a marathon. I went down to watch the Melbourne Marathon. My sister and I set up spot at about the 33km mark on the course. It was astounding to see how most runners were hurting and struggling through this section. It was the point where many hit the so-called wall. They are also far enough from the finish they doubt if they can make it. There was something in all this suffering that sung to me. I had to have a go.
My first marathon was to be the Melbourne Marathon in 1997. That gave me a year to build up. With a strong fear of failure I felt I needed the full year. For some reason I plucked sub-3 hours out as my goal. Over that year I ran, ran some more, read as much as I could on running, got injured, ran more and then some more. It was a big learning curve. In the final 3 months I took a program from Runner’s World magazine and followed it pretty closely.
The race was amazing. I crossed the finish in 3:18:27. Outside the sub-3 hour goal, but it was best I could get out of myself on the day. It felt like the hardest thing I could ever do, and I loved it.
While preparing for the marathon I had a bit of injury time out. Trying to keep up some fitness I took to swimming and cycling while I healed. That had me explore the world of triathlon. I got hold of the book Scott Tinley’s Winning Guide To Sports Endurance: How To Maximize Speed, Strength & Stamina. It has some timeless advice and still worth a read today.
The more I read, the more I wanted to race triathlon, but it just seemed like a sport other people did .
In 1997, after the marathon I watched the coverage of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. The footage of aussie Chris Legh staggering and collapsing just before the finish was mesmerising.
Running Became My Lifestyle
This was the launch pad to years of running and triathlon. I joined the Jones Cycles Triathlon Club. Raced marathons, Ironman, triathlon, rogaines, orienteering and many different endurance events. I changed my direction at university and studied human movement. Became a coach and worked different jobs related to sport.
My whole life was sport related, and I loved it. Yet I wanted more. But that’s another story.
How did your running story start?