I started running to add a missing element to my training. I started running to strengthen a part of me I’d neglected for so long. I started running to clear my mind of weak thoughts. I started running to escape. And, I’ve gotten so much more back!

I turned 33 on the 2nd of July of this year, I’ve never been big on celebrating my birthday, in fact, I rather use it more as an opportunity to see how I’m progressing in life.

Anything can show improvement, although I try not to use material possessions as a means of doing this.

Instead I ask myself: Has my career improved? Am I doing more things that I want to do? Am I going to be able to afford a house at some point in my life, or am I forever doomed to pay rent to a faceless landlord (touch dramatic I know).

To me, the most important areas is: how is my physical health doing? Without your health, you have nothing, so you’d better take care of it.

Of the last few years, this is probably the one that has wavered the most and the one which I struggled to maintain consistency in. I allowed other elements of my life to distract me and this has lead to poor decisions, poor food choices, poor training routines. It allowed me to give up on myself.

So lying in my bed the morning of July 2nd, I started to look back on the year and see if I’d moved forward in Life/Work? Realistically, not operating how I want it too.

Relationship? It’s complicated.

Still have my hair? Yes, thankfully.

Fitness? Still not where I want it to be!!! Still NOT where I WANT to be!!!

So what was going wrong? What was stopping me from achieving my goals and getting me to a level of fitness I deem excellent?

In short, I felt this year more than anything, I’d allowed myself get too caught up in what the industry (and people) expected of a personal trainer.

I ignored my background in sports and rugby and I focused on external expectations of me, trying to match industry norms.

The whole time I still looked towards athletes as a source of inspiration, to what peak physical conditioning should look like, however neglecting many of the key elements of their training which allows them to be so successful in their sport. 

So, I decided to start with running.

Truthfully, I have never enjoyed running, even during my rugby days, luckily for me that was only ever short bursts, no long distance.

The amount of times I must have said “you’ll never catch me running” is ridiculous. Well this is the year that changed and how am delighted it has.

The original thought was: “this will make me feel fitter, it’ll help with fat loss, my heart and lungs will toughen up, making weightlifting easier.”

And, on a side note – I had crazy intentions of going back to play rugby at 33, so I’d better start running now before the start of the season. 

It’s only been 3 weeks since I started; first week was with a good friend, where we ran a set route through Kelvingrove park with some pull ups thrown in around the half-way mark for good measure.

The second was by myself on a Sunday around Cross park, I run 10 laps uninterrupted followed by 10 hill sprints. Eventually I plan on adding 5 more laps going the other way. 

The biggest change I’ve felt so far in this short time was to my mental toughness. The conversations I am having with myself while I was running have had a massive impact.

Where I used to want to quit, feeling my lungs were going to explode and looking for the easy way out. Telling myself:

“It’s ok to take a break here, you need it, rest for a bit and then maybe go again” 

To pushing through, demanding more of myself, just taking that extra step each time, pushing through that wall and realising that actually I was more than capable.

 “Don’t you dare quit, your soft, you’ve gotten weak. Stop looking for an easy way out, tough it out and you’ll see the change you want”

I’ll be honest, I’ve dulled down the conversation a bit, I’m a lot harder on myself in my head than I’m willing to write down here.

That being said, I’m glad I can talk to myself this way, because it is exactly what I need, not just in my training but also in my day to day.

I read a great book last year and in it, it talks about finding your edge, that point where you are getting uncomfortable with things. You’re not so far into discomfort that you crumble, but you’r right there, hanging on at the edge, looking over it at what possibilities could be, pushing to demand more. 

Running has given me more than I expected and I am looking forward to seeing what else is in store for me following this path.