With the Great North Run fast approaching, we spoke to Ian about what it's like to take part in the race and what motivates him to run:
I first got into running in 2014 when I took a charity place for the Great North Run, something that I'd said I wanted to do year after year but never got round to doing. In 2014, I decided that I needed to do something as I was doing no form of exercise at all and wanted something to aim for - the Great North Run was the target for me!
When I first started running I also needed to lose weight, I had a small operation and during my pre-op appointment, the nurse made a comment about me needing to lose a few pounds and that kinda stuck, so starting running killed two birds with one stone. At first, I started to lose weight just because I was being more active, but as I got more into it I started reading about which foods to eat in order to get the best performance and looking into how many calories my runs burned and balancing that with my intake.
During the first couple of months, keeping motivated was difficult. As every runner knows, this is the most difficult time, but I am lucky enough to have a good bunch of friends that run who massively motivated me. I have a few friends that are doing the Great North Run for the first time this year and when they were considering it, the only advice I could give was to not worry too much about their time, the Great North Run is all about the experience and the atmosphere and not so much about the run. It is far too crowded to go out there and try for a PB unless you're starting in the orange zone (this is where the 'faster club runners' start!). Just make sure you can do 10 or 11 miles in the run up and you'll be fine.
Also, people say that the atmosphere of the day will get you through, but when you get to 9 miles and you're running through a council estate with kids riding their bikes across the road in front of the runners, it takes mental strength to keep going. The thing that helped me was the faculty that I was running for a charity that is close to my heart, I ran for Scope (http://www.scope.org.uk/) which helps families with disabled children and as my younger brother has cerebral palsy, I was determined to raise the minimum sponsorship of £250.
The thing that keeps me entering races is the constant need to improve. I am ridiculously competitive with myself - not with other people, but I am always pushing myself to do better than last time. I run 5 or 6 times per week which is mainly just my commute from work and my favourite place to run is through Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland. It is only 6 miles from home but is beautifully scenic and equally as challenging so I always fit it into my long runs.
Later this year I have my first marathon which is going to be a massive challenge but also a huge achievement for me. I hope to be able to run the length of Hadrian's Wall from Carlisle to Wallsend at some point, that is my ultimate running goal.
When I look back it's hard to pick out a particular time that I would say was my favourite, however, I really enjoyed the Druridge Bay 10k and Great North 10k as I was able to run those with friends and also made new friends while there. During these races it wasn't just my time I was pleased with but also seeing my friends achieve PB's made it a memorable day.
The only advice I would give to new runners is not to give up, when you first start it does hurt and it is difficult but that will pass and then it becomes enjoyable!
Thanks to Ian for contacting us about his running background and feel free to leave him a comment below.
You can follow Ian on Instagram: @the_geordie_runner
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