Tim Payne is testament to this. Nine years ago Tim was battling cancer, and while running presented the perfect opportunity to improve his general fitness, it also offered respite from his daily battle with the illness.
From getting involved in local running clubs to taking part in citywide events, Tim has grown stronger through running, and next year he will celebrate ten years in remission.
This is his story.
When did you take up running and why?
Back in 2007 I was recovering from Hodgkin lymphoma and chemotherapy, which I’d finished the previous year. I’d been ill for almost 18 months before I was diagnosed, which had severely curtailed my ability to exercise. Consequently, I was in terrible shape. I was slowly getting back into doing exercise like climbing, but it was hard work.
My fiancée is a runner, and she persuaded me to join her on a few runs. I enjoyed the exercise, but wasn’t that keen on running. Then, on a holiday, I started getting up every morning and running barefoot on the beach, and running clicked for me. I actually started to enjoy it, and it became something I did for fun, rather than just something I was doing to try and get fit again.
How did you get started, and how did you motivate yourself?
It started with some short and embarrassingly slow runs with my fiancée around where I live. It was pretty soul destroying, knowing that I used to be fit, but that I could barely run more than a couple of kilometres without collapsing into a wheezing heap.
Once running clicked for me, I started doing regular runs with friends and started attended the Parkrun nearby, which were really good for my motivation. As the Parkrun is timed, you could see the improvement over time and the people there were really supportive and friendly, which really helps, especially when you’re just starting out. I generally find it easier to go for a run with other people.
From there, I signed up for a 5km obstacle run in Manchester, just to see if I could do it. I did, and it didn’t kill me, so I signed up for a 10km race after that. Having something to work towards definitely helps with the motivation too.
Do you run alone or in a group (for example a local running club or Parkruns)?
I mostly run alone since we had our daughter, as that means I only get to run with my other half when we have a babysitter. I try and do the Parkrun when I can, but again we don’t do that as much as we used to! I have a few friends that I run with when the weather is good, mostly along the canal and in the nearby parks. When our daughter is older, I think we might join one of the local running clubs!
What type of runs have you done, or are set to do, in 2016 (e.g. 5km, 10km, half marathons)?
Mostly running for fun and Parkruns so far. I plan to sign up for at least one 10km race this year, and I’m also planning on doing a crazy run/bike/canoe race with a friend of mine to celebrate ten years in remission. I’d also quite like to get back where I was a few years ago, when I could comfortably run a sub-50 10km!
What gear did you have to start and what would you recommend others starting with?
It was early in the year, so warm running gear! Some winter running trousers, a long-sleeved hi-vis top, and some basic running shoes. After six months I switched to minimalist running shoes and I haven’t looked back. I’d say a set of cold weather running clothes, lightweight stuff for the summer, and a comfortable pair of running shoes should do for starters! If you’re planning on doing distance runs, a water bottle is a must, and if you run after dark, high-visibility clothing is very important.
What are the benefits of this lifestyle?
I have a fairly sedentary desk job, so it keeps me fit and active! I can do a lot more active stuff than some of my friends who don’t really exercise, and it makes running round after my daughter a lot less painful. I also find running quite relaxing these days, so it’s a nice way to unwind after work, especially when the weather gets better and I can head out for a run along the canal.
What advice would you give to others who are thinking of taking up running?
Don’t give up if it’s hard work or you’re not very good at it at first. I was appalling to start off with, and I’m a fairly respectable runner now. Finding a friendly local running group like a Parkrun really helps. The people tend to be really helpful and supportive, which can really help with your confidence, otherwise it can be a bit intimidating. If you can run with friends, that also makes it more fun. Finally, run outdoors if you can, running on a treadmill is dull, dull, dull.