Up and running: Fora General Manager, Alex, on how he started running and why he kept going

May 2020

In the current crisis, it’s sometimes hard to be positive or find motivation to utilise any spare time we have in a productive way, but it’s definitely possible. I thought I would share my recent experience of starting running that I hope may encourage you to make some changes and get involved yourself.

In the last 12 months I surprised myself by becoming a keen runner. To put this into context, this time last year I wasn’t able to (and certainly had no desire to) run more than 1 mile. However, around Easter 2019, a friend of mine who is an avid runner challenged me to join her in signing up to the 2020 Barcelona marathon.

Despite not knowing what I was letting myself in for (26.2 miles!), I registered and bought the plane tickets on the spot. After a sluggish start to training during the summer months, I started to take it a lot more seriously around September – otherwise there was no chance I was going to make the finish line to be honest. I used a running app that created my 6-month training plan and had me running 3 times a week.

At the beginning I found it challenging to put aside the time I needed to follow the programme, but it helped that I started at the same time as my friend and my sister so we were able to keep each other motivated and hold each other somewhat accountable. We’re all different, so we need to find what clicks for us in terms of motivation. Another incentive for me was to pick a charity; I decided, together with my sister, to choose the Alzheimer’s Society, as it’s very close to our hearts and we wanted to make our granddad proud of us.

I found that I was soon able to manage further distances and quicker times but unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Barcelona marathon was postponed until October 2020. Although this was very disappointing, the training has had a huge impact on my health and wellbeing. I quit smoking in August and after doing Veganuary, I also became a plant-based eater, both of which have made a big difference to my performance and recovery time. Here’s a great recipe for plant-based burgers that I recently made – they were great so I’d recommend giving them a try!

If you’re thinking about getting into or improving your running, I would strongly encourage you to download a running app to help with your fitness journey. My favourite is Nike Run Club; it has lots of guided running programs, from beginner level right up to advanced. It will also create a personalised training plan, which worked very well for me. However, for a more social and fun app, there is also Strava which allows you to connect and compete with your friends. See which one works best for you.

I can also strongly recommend the following books, which kept me going along the way:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – It talks about running in a truly engaging and entertaining way.

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek – this one really kept me going; it gives a broader overview on what’s needed to improve, including the importance of nutrition.

  • Why do I love running? Firstly, a longer run is a journey for both the body and mind, as I would listen to an enriching podcast whilst testing the limits of my body, discovering how it feels after more and more miles. Secondly, a shorter and faster run will give me a boost of (sometimes) much needed endorphins. And finally, I love running simply because it makes me feel like I can accomplish the impossible; my progression leading up to the Barcelona marathon has opened up my mind to the possibility of even signing up for an Ironman in the not so distant future. It helps you realise your goals are limitless!

I hope this inspires you to dig your old trainers out of the cupboard, and who knows, I may see you in Barcelona in October for the marathon!

Alex