Why do I run?

Ten years ago my relationship with running was a suppressed distant school memory. Runs finished with Asthma attacks. Curled over my knees after arriving third, from last, in the school cross country.

Only weirdos in too-short shorts run, ’cause they have nothing better to do.

In those years, walking was more my speed. That’s all I needed to do to loose those extra KGs that M&S Carbonara, chips, cheese toasties and UK public transport had bestowed upon me right?

Eight years ago, after walking had progressed to striding, striding to jogs, I started changing out of my suit to jog a full lunch hour. It started to bite. The nice feeling I got after those jogs. A runners high?

But I still liked to bite. Bite Subway, bite Carbonara and bite Buttered Chicken.

Lifting my rolls around my ribs to lie on the couch and being 3-5 sizes over my actual waist size was the kicker. That and realising I couldn’t chase my kids down. I didn’t have the stamina to carry them to the car. Oli would need me to carry him, maybe for life.

It hit hard.

Tamara found a diet and we hit back.

A fortnight of meat only eating and sticking to a strict Keto diet for 12 weeks saw me take a 97kg (213 lbs) to 77 kg (170lbs) dive.

The jog became a run. The run’s became two and three times a week day. The runs became a first Half Marathon, an entry in the Auckland Marathon and then the what ifs started:

  • What if I ran 10k every weekend to train for a half?
  • What if I did 4 days running a week?
  • What if I quit drinking and ran instead?
  • What if I ran for 6 hours (12 would be plain stupid, those idiots)?
  • What if I ran two half marathons in a week?
  • What if I ran every day? (still going, we’re at 1099 days and counting today)
  • What if I got a coach?
  • What if I ran 100k in 12 hours? (I ran 102)
  • What if I ran 120k in 12 hours?
    • I couldn’t. Lockdowns broke the build. I went out far too fast and collapsed 50k in. A vomiting, heatstroke stricken wreck.
  • What if I run 100k a week for 12 weeks?
  • What if I could run a 65k trail ultra?
  • What if I could run a 3:20 marathon? (3:14)
  • What if I could run a sub 90 half?
  • What if…

The weight loss aid became an addiction to finding breaking points. Pushing limits. Building discipline.

The training is now almost the thing, the journey being more fun than the races.

It rubbed off at home too. “Are you really running today?” became “Have you run yet?”

Tamara has gone from once, twice, to three runs a week. She still won’t give up her treadmill, but man does she get angry if it breaks. Il’ya swims 4 hours a week.

Out of the house it’s worse.

Being found by a group or like minded runners, the Night Ninjas, just compounded matters. The 5 people I spent the most time with all ran most, if not everyday, had 5 inch shorts and snuck out at night for runs. When someone mentions a 50k run, every one goes “You’re nuts. What time do we start?”

The Ninja warm up: running the 8k course before the 21k race, is a thing. Running triple quadruple ParkRuns is a thing.

When normal is nuts, you challenge everything. When a race is 3k longer than you thought, 8 stream crossings, and twice as steep – you laugh and embrace it.

When life throws you curve balls, lemons 🍋, or if things get tough, you fall to your disciple and grind it out.

My running why has transitioned.

I ran for weight loss, to escape, to get somewhere.

I now run for the friendships, the discomfort and pain that makes you feel alive, and the ‘what ifs’…

Oh yeah, race report for the Waterfront Half Marathon? I ran the Oxfam 100k two weeks before in ~14hrs so wasn’t sure what to expect. 7 ninjas warmed up and had fantastic runs in great conditions.

I wanted sub 90. I ran 1:29:52 on the day.

Hmm… Hey coach, what if I…

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