My running story & 2015 review (long!)

With it being NYE I thought I'd look back on 2015 and recap on the progress I've made and also tell you 'my story' - how I've got to where I have with my running.

I guess it starts at school - I'm a short, puny, skinny so & so and just not built for most sports, certainly not rugby that was my school's speciality. I loved sports & games - playing and watching on TV - but the physique was always going to limit me, that, as well as being generally rubbish! :-)

Apart from goalkeeping in junior sides (being 5'8" was always going to be a problem), running seemed to be the only thing I was vaguely OK at. I didn't mind it and found to my delight I was actually quite ... average. Yes, average :-) In early secondary school I achieved the dizzy heights of being told I was *just* about good enough to be invited to cross-country training on Saturday mornings. Errr, no thanks! (I passed on that - didn't fancy it to be honest)

Fast forward to 6th form and during the summer months me & my best mate who lived next door started running a 4.3k route as something to do - now *he" was a proper Sport Billy, good at everything, made you sick really. He was a junior international badminton player & used to train on our route with mini weights on his wrists & ankles - not for me!

From an initial 25 minutes, and after 2-3 summers, we got our PBs down to 16:30 (him) and 16:50.

We went our separate ways sometime after that (jobs, marriage, uni etc) and I didn't try to run regularly again until I was 25. I went out a few times a week in late spring and carried on for about 4 weeks but had to stop because my one of me knees was hurting so much. I took ibuprofen and then Voltarol (awful stuff!) - no difference and saw my GP ("probably chronic cartilage., don't run, blah blah ") - thanks Doc!

So without a clear idea of how to fix myself, I gave up. I was busy with work, while doing a PhD also and also buying a house & sorting all that out with MrsW. Exercise wise, I did NOTHING.

10 years later, I had a very innocuous knee injury - a "click" while turning away after closing the kitchen door. It wasn't right after that - any weight on the right knee beyond walking, eg, stepping off a kerb, stairs etc , just didn't feel right. There was no way I could contemplate even jogging.

I eventually had physio & an MRI scan which showed nothing significant & only minor wear & tear. So what *was* the problem? The consultant *did* recommend orthotics however, but without explaining in detail why they might help. Stupidly, I never followed it up, believing them to be too expensive. Big mistake!

Around that time, I really wanted to exercise and in particular, run. My sister was running marathons, work colleagues were running marathons, the odd friend was running marathons, but I couldn't run 1 kilometre :-(

And so ANOTHER 10 years later (I know!), during which I'd done next to no regular exercise whatsoever, save for a bit of swimming for a few weeks in 2007 - that stopped cos the local pool was rebuilt - I was looking after the sale of my late Dad's house, the former family home. I ended up with 13 storage boxes of stuff I wanted to keep. MrsW insisted they go in the loft immediately. So I made 13 separate trips up into the loft carrying a very heavy box each time - all in the space of 2 hours.

My right knee didn't like this at all. I'd aggravated it and a month later I saw the GP - told him I really wanted to run ...

"I wouldn't, bad for the joints"

Gee, thanks Doc!

Incidentally, back in 2009 naïve, wishful thinking saw me manage through work, get a free place in the London Marathon (we sponsored it at the time). I was stupid for even thinking about it - training would have lasted 15 minutes! I gave the place to someone else & forgot about it . But how I wanted to run.

So my GP, recommended a couple of physios who he knew to be specialised in orthotics.

This was June 2014, and I eventually saw the physio in the September.


One look at me doing some basic exercises and she saw the problem.

"Yep, I can see it right away, your alignment is awful. We can fix this easily"


She put a load of KT "Rock" tape around my right leg, I walked to work and my leg and right knee instantly felt better than they'd had done for 20 years.

3 weeks later and thanks to the physio and her in-house podiatrist, I had my custom-made orthotics.

"I want to run. Can I?"

"Go ahead! Should be fine."

3 minutes on her treadmill and I knew. I just knew :-)

We had a chat and she recommended building up the running very slowly. I also had to include walking BACKWARDS on the treadmill for a few minutes each session, to strengthen the hamstrings, to help alignment.

So the problem all along was alignment.

The knee joints weren't tracking properly. We think I was OK in my late teens cos my bones were still not 100% solidified, but by mid-20s, they had, so any misalignment was fixed in. Hence the issues when I restarted back then.

October 2014 saw me start running regularly for the first time in 20 years.

BUT... WARNING... I over did it. A combination of (1) rubbish trainers and (2) increasing my running time by 1 minute and speed by 0.5 km/h each session, caused me to get an injury - posterior tibialis tendinitis. Ouch. Ow. Very oww. Could hardly walk.

I was out of action for 8 weeks and I'd learnt a painful lesson. I needed to take it nice and easy and get decent shoes.

Shoes were a bit of a saga but got there eventually after sending 4 different pairs back. Asics Gel Pulse 5 (neutral) are the Chosen Ones.

Taking it nice and easy eh? But how? Where do I start?

Only one place... The Couch to 5k programme :-)

So the last week of January of this year, saw me start W1R1 on the treadmill at our works gym. I graduated late March, and then in April ran outdoors for the first time time since 1995. I ran 4.7k and without looking at my watch thought it had been about 35 mins - it felt slow and ploddy. But it was 25! Couldn't believe it :-)

Since then, I've not gone mad but tried to improve my 5k time and gradually build my distance up. The 5k PB has deceased steadily from 26:30 to 23:31 and the last run before the Christmas break was my longest run ever, 12.5k in 66 minutes.

The knees *aren't* perfect - the right knee is strong but still doesn't like stairs, while the left is now my "problem" knee - it doesn't like hills but as long as I don't overdo the road running, I'll be OK :-)

Kit-wise, the only investment I've made to date has been in a pair of shoes, a 3-pack of proper socks and some shorts. Up top it's been basic cotton t-shirts.

[EDIT: and a TomTom Cardio Runner GPS watch!] A recent very cold run (cold arms!!) made me determined to splash some Christmas and Birthday cash. So here's a boring photo of what I bought in DW Sports on Tuesday :-)

- a Puma long-sleeved zip top

- Asics lightweight wind breaker

- Nike long sleeve top.

I have NO idea why they're all blue! It wasn't my intention :-)

By the way, great place is DW Sports. Highly recommend it.

- lots & lots of brands

(incl Under Armour, Asics etc)

- very quiet

- very spacious

- no issues like Sports Direct

Anyway, if you've stayed with me this far,, well done, get yourself a well deserved drink :-).

Happy New Year!

My name's John and I'm a runner.

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27 Replies

  • Well done John, what an excellent story :O)

    A shame that you took so long to discover the problem, but great that you have sorted it out now.

    Those are great times, well done :O)

    Happy new year to you :O)

  • Thank you Zen!

    Yes, it's taken a while, but got there in the end.

    Happy New Year to you too!

  • Wow great story John. You are indeed a runner and a quick one too. Fantastic. Good old Laura, so pleased that you finally made it.

  • Thank you Jan :-) It's taken a while but got there in the end :-)

  • That was a fantastic read, a bit of a life story, how many X 10 years are you?!!!!! Im so glad you are now doing what you clearly love and long may it continue... Happy new year!!

  • There's plenty of clues in the post JJ ! ;-) Glad you enjoyed reading it :-)

    HNY to you too.

    PS *** T R E A D M I L L ***

  • Really enjoyed reading this! Happy new year

  • Thank you, glad you did. HNY to you also :-)

  • Great story - it's clear that the pull towards running has been a theme all along - so glad you got to fulfill your ambitions!

  • Thanks UR - yes, I've looked at other runners enviously over the last 10 years or so. Finally one myself :-) Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Happy New Year John, really enjoyed reading your post. Keep running !

  • Thank you Susie, glad you enjoyed it. HNY to you also!

  • A great story, and a good shopping haul! I'm glad you are finally able to run.

  • Thanks Sarah :-) Yeah pretty happy with the haul - but even happier I can run :-)

  • Well done you are a speedy runner and your perseverance paid off! Happy new year and happy running 😊

  • Thank you! HNY to you also :-)

  • Thank you for all your lovely encouraging replies :-)

    Looks like I've run a total of 127 times this year and done a total of 538 km. Not too bad :-)

    By the way, that's a heck of a lot of tags! ;-)

  • Brilliant story. My doctor also told me running was bad for joints but i am in less pain now than when I started. Not an alignment problem like yours just some wear on the meniscus but my muscles have got stronger and are doing their job properly now.

  • Thank you Cath. Great to hear that you are running too. I think a the GP advice to very common and reflect an over-cautious attitude stemming from their 'general' practise. HNY and happy running :-)

  • Great post really enjoyed hearing how far you have come! It shows what determination can do! Well done happy running

  • Why thank you Sharon, that's very kind of you to say so. Happy running and HNY to you also :-)

  • What a great read John. You're an ispiration!

  • Awww, schucks Boogie! Blushing 'ere :-)

  • Now here's a guy with determination! Well done John :)

  • Thank you. You know, I'm a little surprised by some people's reactions and I struggle to identify myself as "a guy with determination". I guess I under-sell myself sometimes. From the point of view of still wanting and then being able to run, 20 years after a setback left me seemingly unable to, then yeah, I guess that must be determination :-)

    Cheers and thank you.

  • Brilliant story John ! Just read it on a boring bus journey and when I read that your problem could be fixed , I just wanted to stand up and cheer ! Ha ha ! :-)

    Had to content myself with a few whispered "YES " 's

    Absolutely fantastic , you never gave up , and yes I agree , you are an inspiration !

    Happy New Year ! xxx

  • Wow, poppy, I'm a bit speechless that I brightened up someone's bus journey! I'm chucking at the idea of you standing you and cheering :-) But I'll take a whispered "yes!" or two!

    Thanks so much for your kind words and Happy New Year to you too :-)

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