by Adam Morris in Stories, image by Tasayu Tasnaphun

It’s Not Just Running

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Hi, I’m Adam and I started running on the third of June 2012. And it has changed my life – I know what a cliché that is, but it has.

I remember a few years ago reading one of Dean Karnazes’ books, and getting all inspired – the wife, the dogs and me were going jogging every day at once! This lasted about a week and we completely hated it. I have always been very strong, but never massively fit. My past sports have included MMA, Muay Thai and weightlifting, which I have always kept a look in over the years. So why running, and why now? Well you don’t often get your nose broken when running, for a start! I have left the martial arts behind, but still enjoy some of the principles. Why now?

Well last year, to cut a long story short, a year ago I ended up in hospital. My brain was suffering, and I ended up unable to walk, pretty handy at driving a wheelchair and with difficulty talking. I was out of the chair in a few months, and my speech returned with a bit of a stutter, but I was left with crippling episodes where the world was pulled from under my feet. A year on, I am a lot better, but still plagued by a sometimes crippling exhaustion, and an ongoing lack of diagnosis. I decided it was time to start getting strong again (I had gone from being a six-foot one man who weighed 225lb and could lift whatever I wanted to being two stone lighter, and a stranger in my own clothes) So I signed up to the usual grunt type gym, and started with the weights, protein and creatine monohydrate again. Then one day, a funny thing happened. I went over to a treadmill in the corner, and hopped on. After a while, I thought ‘let me see if I can do 20 minutes…’ 20 became 40, and I thought, ‘I’m going to crack an hour!’ – and I did. One whole hour, I couldn’t believe it!

Over the next couple of days, the weights started getting lifted less and less (which isn’t a bad thing considering my deadlift was only up to 140kg) and the treadmill more and more. Then, one day I didn’t go to the gym. I said to my wife “I’m off running” She smiled, shook her head and accepted a new thing in my impatient and spontaneous way. I got back and traced my run on Google maps – 3 miles, and in half an hour. I kept this up, and kept logging it, shaving off minutes each time. I varied, and tried a couple of other local runs. May I just point out that my lungs were dying and I came home looking like I had just trekked the Sahara solo. Eventually, I got Nike+, which as you probably know is a little gem. This helped me measure myself against the most important scale – me. It also told me that the run I had thought was three miles was actually two point four, but I now run it in under 19 minutes.

Back to illness again, my wife’s family have had major struggles with cancer, and overcome them. I began thinking that I could combine my new passion with something that benefits others as well as me, so set up a charity page and decided to run as much as I could for Macmillan Cancer support. I signed myself up for a 5k in August, and a 10k in September, thinking them both lofty ambitions. Well, as well as my own drive, plus a new community welcoming me with open arms I have gone a little further. It is now that I will say that the running community is one of the best global networks I have seen, online and out and about (I’m sure there are some bad apples, but c’est la vie). The things I have learned, and the support I have garnered from fellow runners both here and abroad, on Twitter and on the road has been nothing short of exceptional. And why not? A group of positive people driving and helping each other to do positive things – great! So, my pack arrived from Macmillan who also kindly supplied me with a vest. One Saturday, I was flicking through local races, and saw one in the morning. My wife and I looked at each other and it was set – I would be a late entrant. Nerves? You bet! I paced up and down like a boy before his first date and was awake at four in the morning.  The race was awesome, and I did it in 26 minutes – my first ever race, medal, and number. I was hooked! I started training harder and more often, and even ran on my holidays In Iceland, which was stunning. Last night, I went all Forrest Gump, and just ‘ran and ran’ and ended up rocking my first ever 10k, with a time of 56.36 – I felt so good I wanted to climb on the roof and howl at the moon!

And that’s the thing, like the title says, it’s not just running. It makes me feel good – whenever I run I can guarantee at one point a big dumb grin will spread over my face, and there is nothing I can do about it. I feel good when I see people helping with my charity cause, good when I inspire people, good when I see someone achieve something, good when I break a PB (see a pattern?) My diet has changed too, not through force or choice, just a natural progression towards healthier foods, and ‘organic process’ if you like.. On the downside, I need to shop for new clothes as my body changes shape (for the better ;) ), I get shin splints, my hips ache, and I want to run when I shouldn’t. But, I’ll learn, thanks to the new community I have been introduced to, and a new way of life. I can’t wait to enter more races, and to grow as a runner throughout the year, although there is a danger of my wife smashing me round the head with a copy of ‘Running Fitness’ if I don’t shut up about…. Yup, running.

Do I have any tips? Sure – Hydrate properly, train steady to start with and go see a specialist about the correct shoe – I was misguidedly wearing totally the wrong type, and found out I was a mild overpronator. Other than that? Be free and love it.

And one last thing – thanks to my wife. For everything – I did a test run at a local stadium, and was knackered – there she sat supporting me (we had the place to ourselves) By the last lap I was dead on my feet – I looked up, and who was running the last lap with me? You bet she was, and she always will be.

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