I am now a Marathon runner! I finished the Edinburgh marathon in 4 hours 50 mins and 13 seconds finishing in 5294th place out of 14,000 so I'm pretty happy with that. Just got the Dundee 1/2 marathon to compete in at the end of June. I'm aiming to get under 2 hours which could be possible since it's quite a fast, flat course.
That is what I posted on Facebook back in 2008 after running my first ever marathon.
Up until that day, the most I had ever ran during the build up to the marathon was 17 miles. I followed a 'get me round' training plan and it did exactly what it said it would. It got me round the course and I finished it. Why is this an achievement? I was 18 1/2 stone at the time!
I got around the course at an average pace of 11 mins per mile. It hurt but as soon as I had finished, I knew this wasn't going to be my last marathon or the last time I pulled on my running trainers!
What made me decide to run a marathon?
Prior to 2008 I was the stereotypical student. I ate, drank and did very little in the way of exercise and, surprising to some, it was out of choice. I honestly believed I didn't need to lose weight. I thought I was healthy. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I was of OK build, big boned as my grandmother used to say. I knew I wasn't going to have a 6 pack under my T-Shirt but I was comfortable in my own skin. If someone asked me my weight, I would have said about 15 stone. Before 2008, I didn't own scales.
January 2008 I made a New Year's resolution, to lose weight. Something clicked in my brain and I was determined to shift some of the belly. It may have had something to do with getting some scales and then finding out what that weight meant to my health.
Very fat or over weight
My Body Mass Index was 33.9 which is slap bang in the middle of the obese category. This was a wake up call. I was now a label. I was an obese individual, this to me was far worse than just being overweight!
I decided to start running and in a moment of madness, signed up to Edinburgh marathon and raised money for the RNLI Lifeboat charity to help keep me focused.
I headed along to Run and Become, one of the local running shops in Edinburgh and I did feel a bit nervous about it. I walked in to the shop and possibly for the first time I felt like a large person. Looking around the store there were a number of other people buying running shoes and I felt so out of place. They were super skinny, they looked athletic and here I was, an 18 stone, 6 foot 1 lump.
I half expected the shop assistant to come up to me, whisper in my ear something along the lines of "Erm, I think you have the wrong shop. Burger King is back along the street" but they were the complete opposite. They were really nice, so encouraging and to this day I still buy my running shoes from them.
They took me through my options. They spent ages with me. Running along the pavement outside the shop, changing the shoe depending on how it felt. I later discovered this was what people and websites meant when they say you should get a gait analysis test done before buying a pair of running shoes, especially your first pair.
My first run
I can remember it like it was yesterday. I headed down to the Meadows. A local park near the centre of Edinburgh and it was about 400 metres from my office. The aim, to run one loop of the Meadows. One loop is just short of a mile and a half.
It didn't put me off though. I ran a bit, walked a bit, ran a bit until I did a loop of the park. I headed back to the office and I decided I wasn't going to let this park beat me.
The following day my legs were so sore! Muscles aching, I took a day off but the day after I went out again. 1 loop but this time with less walking and so this routine continued until I did a loop of the park non stop! I felt amazing. The next aim was a loop and a half without walking.
People stopped with the jokes about me running and started to realise I wasn't giving up. Come rain or shine, I pulled on my trainers and went out around the park.
Hard work pays off
If you are reading this and you are overweight, I'm not going to say everything was a bed or roses from here on. It wasn't. I had good days and bad. I had people shouting the usual "Run Fat Boy Run!" which if you are of athletic build, you can laugh off, but when you are that "Fat boy" it can hurt. This is when you need to think about all the positives. All the reasons you are doing this and just tell yourself at least you are doing something about it. Even if you start off just by walking during your lunch break, you are being more active than you used to be. Small steps can make massive changes.
How did I get started?
- Firstly, I needed to want to do something about my weight. It doesn't matter how often people said to me "You need to lose weight", until you decide to do it, it's not going to happen.
- Find a reason to lose weight. I wanted to be able to buy clothes in high street shops. I got fed up going in to shops to buy jeans and they didn't stock 38 inch waists!
- Don't starve yourself! In the early days I didn't change my diet at all. I maybe made my portion sizes slightly smaller but I didn't diet.
- Be honest with yourself. When I say don't starve yourself I also mean don't over eat! Just because you ran a mile doesn't mean you can then eat as much as you want, be realistic. You only get about 100 calories per mile. How does this stack up against a bit of chocolate as a reward? 1 58g Mars bar = 260 calories!
Since that first day of running I've lost over 5 stone and I feel great. I believe anyone can do it, but there is no shortcut. You need to be in it for the long haul.
So, what are you waiting for? Head out for a walk and take the first steps to your new life!