Sunday, 3 March 2013

A question of class

It's been almost 5 weeks since I stopped running. In that time I've inevitably been reflecting on something that just will not go away; will hard graft and determination ever be enough or do I need talent for this game? I think I have my answer.


I'm in my mid 30's, married with two young kids, have a full-time job and have been studying hard in the last 4-5 years as I bid to become a chartered building surveyor. In that same time period I have taken up running and have very little history in the sport apart from the requirement to be relatively fit whilst I served in the Army for 9 years.


What was the point of that last paragraph? Think about someone you know who might be in similar circumstances. When I do, I can think of no-one else mad enough to take so much on. Well, maybe both Consani's but I'll come back to why I believe it may work for them.


Looking around at big running events I see all age groups and people from all walks of life but a closer look reveals something interesting. Without being disrespectful to those not mentioned here I believe that most of those who take it seriously are broadly categorised as:

·         ‘the young without kids’,

·         ‘the same age as me without kids or kids who have grown into adolescence’, and,

·         ‘the older without kids or with kids who have flew the next’


My relationship with running has been a torrid affair, probably in no small part due to my self-demanding and competitive nature. Looking back there is a recurring theme; injury, illness and a dogged determination to keep trying.


Early last year I told my wife that I was going to give the running one last chance. So after 4 years of refusing to spend any money on running (because we had none), I persuaded my wife to let me spend what little savings we had for a training programme from an ultra running coach and a tailored nutrition programme from a nationally recognised body. In addition, I invested in 'all the gear' and any injury prevention gadget I could get my hands on and bought a whole host of books to inform my brain.


Prior to starting the training I was as primed as I had ever been. Then 8 weeks into the programme just as I was beginning to pat myself on the back for finally 'doing things properly', I got injured! Again. I ploughed on for 3 and a half months, trying this and trying that and then just got to the stage where I had to hold my hands up.


In the 5 weeks that have past I have honestly not missed running. I don’t know if this is because I am 5 weeks into a new thing which will be reported on in 7 weeks time or if I have genuinely had enough of the struggle.


In times like this I ask myself what it is that I truly miss about running. Without question it is the freedom of running trails and in mountains and in putting myself to the limits of my potential. These are things I cannot do injured BUT they are the very things I know I must keep aiming for. For this hard graft and determination are all that are required.


The problem with this comes when you enter events and undertake challenges which have time limits and are flooded with other ‘competitors’. You are provided with a tangible record of where you stand - ultra’s are fantastic at exposing you for who you are. Excuses only wash for so long. So with the thoughts of the last 5 weeks spinning around, I read this blog by Andy Bowen.


I have my answer. Allow me to summerise; class is permanent, form is temporary.




  1. I feel like I could have written most of this post myself!
    I hope whatever this 'new' thing is you are doing for 7 weeks is keeping you happy. It must be if you are not missing the running.
    Best of luck with your remaining 2 weeks :-)

  2. I'm 42, married with 3 kids (All under 10), have a wife that works and a busy job. I only took up running in 2005 and I have to travel to Scotland (from Ireland) to take part in these events.

    I'm not very classy though!

  3. nor is it likely to be Richard if, like me, you are prone to running injuries and set backs - which from what I've read seems to be the case with you too.

    Another way to put this is saying that you're either meant to run or you're not. History speaks for itself.

    This could be my way of coming to terms with my latest injury which I've been told may rule me out of running for the rest of my life. I don't have the time, energy or inclination to deal with it head on right now because thats all I seem to have been doing for the last 4 years - hence this post.

  4. It's tough when you have an injury that means you will probably never achieve the things you believe you might otherwise be capable of - I suppose it's probably better to keep doing the things you enjoy rather than not do them because you can't do them as well as you want to.

    Interested to know what this new thing is...

  5. I am sorry the doctor told you that last injury is going to take you out forever. And I certainly understand that when we have certain priorities, they are, well, priorities. You don't owe explanations to anyone. If you're OK with it - that's all that matters.

  6. thanks Olga, my blog isn't about justifying things though. It's a record of events for others to learn from e.g. my kids in their adulthood. I have given running everything and in the present feel as though I have been cheated. It goes against the grain when you raise yourself to believe that hard work and determination will always win through. Sometimes you must understand that your body has limits.