I have lots of friends who run.  My sister, and her boyfriend: big runners.  Well, my sister’s quite little actually.  Lots of their friends from work run.  And most of their social circle are from a running club.

I have friends at work too who run.

In fact, I’m surrounded much of the time by people who do this crazy activity.

And I’ve finally stopped holding out.  On Wednesday, I went for a run.

A Potted History of Running in the Wintle Household

It’s not that I’ve not wanted to.  I’ve tried running on several occasions, and it ALWAYS messes my knees up.

I tried in Bath.  That was probably 8 years ago.  I was a young, fit, active guy who played squash and 5-a-side.  But a couple of short runs finished me off.  I blamed the hills.  Can’t run anywhere in Bath without a hill…though – oddly – it has one of the flattest half-marathons in the country!  So I’m told.  Weird!

I tried in London.  Short runs around our old stomping ground there, round Hammersmith Park, under the shadow of BBC TV Centre and past Loftus Road Stadium.  Even, I might add, down Swindon Street!

But even gait analysis and proper running shoes didn’t help.  My knees still hurt.

I did end up seeing a physio though and she gave me some excellent pointers.

I don’t think I’ve ever run in Swindon.  I’ve not even done the treadmill thing.  But I have been cycling…building up fitness and some leg strength.

I guess it was bound to come.  It was even somewhat predicted back in October.

The First Outing

Wednesday was fine.  Sunny if cool.  I’m just about over my cold and have been back on the bike.

I’d packed spare clothes for a lunchtime bike ride.  I think, secretly, running was in the back of my head.  I knew some of the guys were out running at lunchtimes mid-week.

It was a date with destiny.

The men made the invite and I couldn’t refuse.  I tentatively changed into my T-Shirt, cycling longs and my Windstopper jacket.  I stretched to warm up.  I checked my watch.  And….I….ran!!!

Relentless

I deliberately held back.  I didn’t want to knacker my knees first time.  The others were doing a relatively slow pace as they’re building up fitness themselves, and I didn’t want to overdo it at the start.  My aim, if my running continues, is to build on that first run slowly, with the hope of strengthening up the things that usually give me grief.

But despite my slow pace, I found running tough.  I’ve always favoured sports with bursts of activity: squash and five-a-side mentioned earlier, and cycling allows it too.  But my legs don’t have a freewheel.  I just had to keep going.

I was also paying a lot of attention to HOW I was running.  I’m flat footed and so I was consciously rolling down from the outside edge of my foot.  I was really noticing that my style got heavy when I was tired or stopped thinking.  And I was trying out different styles – a long pace felt easier as I could skim the ground rather then up-and-downing so much – this felt good but was hard to keep up.

I was also very conscious of my breathing.  The relentless nature of it meant I didn’t have time to catch breath, and I was breathing a good deep breath over and over for the whole 4 miles.

Lessons

My knees felt OK afterwards, but my back had been hurting and my legs were very tired…but a nice, well-used kind of tiredness.

It was a great experience.  I was chuffed to have got round and finished second out of the four of us in about 36 minutes.

But I also learned some things that I’ll carry on to the bike.  That control of pace that meant I could keep up a reasonable output continuously.  And the deeper, slower, more controlled breathing that went along with it.  There are things that I hope to take on to the wheels to see if they improve my riding.

Next Time

Will there be one?

Well, yesterday I did 14 miles on the bike and there is some knee pain coming.  I wasn’t running in my proper running shoes and it was a bit far for a first run, so maybe I’ll try doing the same and see if it gets worse.

I have plenty of physio-prescribed stretches and orthotics for my shoes that should all help.

And, I confess, I enjoyed.

So watch this space, either for reports of the demise of my limb joints, or for the result of my first half marathon!