2011 … running through the year

December 23rd, 2011 • Posted in Random Stuff |

I did something in 2011 that I’ve been wanting to do for years. Many years. I got fit.

On January 1st 2011 I weighed 14st 9lbs. For my American friends that’s 205 pounds. I’m 5′ 8″ tall, and by anyone’s reckoning, I was way overweight.

I’m now 12st 4lbs, which is 172 pounds. I’ve lost 30 pounds, and gone from barely being able to run a mile to regularly running 10 miles, and racing half-marathons. I haven’t been dieting to lose weight, though I have consciously been trying to eat an improved diet. And now that I feel better than I have in decades, and am booking races and other mad adventures (more on that in a minute), I’m trying to shake the regrets that I didn’t do this years ago. No point regretting, because the past is the past. But I’m definitely making up for lost time.

The trick was to find something I love, and it turns out that’s trail running. I’m exercising because I love it, not simply for the point of exercising. As I write this it’s pissing down with rain outside, but I’m still itching to lace on my trail shoes and get out there, running through the woods, across fields, along the canal towpath, getting muddy and wet and feeling bloody great!

My mate Peter Lyons helped me a huge amount. He got fit the year before, and seeing him do it really inspired me to work harder. We’ve raced together, and frequently exchange details on runs we’ve done, and things we want to do. He’s been a massive help.

And committing to something mad was the kickstarter. Earlier this year I agreed to do the national Three Peaks Challenge with Pete and a few friends. This comprises climbing the tallest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours (including travel time between them). It’s something that a lot of people do every year, but it’s certainly not an easy undertaking. We did it … and if you want to read about our adventure check out my blog post here.

After that, I didn’t want to let things slip, so I started running more and entering races. This year I’ve done a few 10k races and a couple of half marathons, quickly discovering that I much prefer running off-road, whether it’s on my own or racing. And next year…

A 10k, a couple of half marathons, two full marathons. And a 140 mile, 2 day coast to coast race across Devon on foot, bike and kayak (that’s the biggie for 2012!). And they’re just the things I’ve signed up for.

Madness? Some people think so. A couple of people tell me I’ve lost too much weight. Many claim not to understand the enjoyment I get out of doing stuff like this. But there’s no downside to being fitter than I’ve ever been (and I’m not done yet), losing excess weight, and enjoying getting out into the open.

It’s helped my writing a huge amount … running really gives me the headspace to work through plot problems, and feeling better physically and mentally means I can plunge into writing projects with more energy than ever before.

It’s all good. 2011 year has been a good one, and I hope 2012 will be even better. My first marathon! My first multi-sports race! And lots, lots more running through the woods.

So, that was my 2011. Happy Christmas to you all, whether you believe in the Big Man himself or not. Be nice to each other. That’s what it’s all about.


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7 comments on “2011 … running through the year”

  1. Mark Morris says:

    Well done, mate! You weigh 4lbs less than me now, though I’m wanting to lose about a stone in 2012 as I’ve slowly gone up from 11’0 to about 12’8 over the last 2-3 years. I’ll keep up with the running, tho I just wish I enjoyed it more. I’ve been doing it for 20-odd years now, but I still find it an exhausting & uncomfortable chore. I envy the fact that you actually *enjoy* it. What’s the secret? And it can’t just be the scenery; I run through fields & woods & along riverbanks, & although I enjoy the physical benefits afterwards I still can’t shake the desire to have it over & donw with almost as soon as I set out.

  2. Tim Lebbon says:

    Don’t really know what the secret is mate … maybe that you’ve been doing it for 20 years! I enjoy the improvements I feel, and the fact that I’m always training for a particular race. Have you tried racing? Got to be loads of 10k or half marathons around you. It’s a whole different atmosphere in a race, really inspiring, and there are lots of different types of races that might appeal — adventure races, off-road mud-bath nightmares, mountain runs. Have a great Crimbo mate! xx

  3. Tim Lebbon says:

    I just pinned my marathon training programme to my wall, starting on January 2nd!

  4. ruth says:

    I never thought about trail well I`d have to start with walking brilliant as I am surrounded by the Pevensey levels I have the shoes, just hope I don`t stand on a fen raft spider baby.

  5. Jarrett Ridlinghafer says:


    I’m 50 (just turned) and also about 15-20 pounds overwieght and I realized the exact same thing you did! I HATE TO WORK OUT, so I started thinking about it and realized I need to find something I ENJOY doing, working out just for the sake of working out or losing wight DOES NOT MOTIVATE ME TO GET OFF MY FAT DUFF!

    I know one thing is I HATE exercising alone and know I need someone who can urge me on and support me when I’m not feeling like doing it and I can support them….sure once I get it into a habit then I doubt it would be such an issue. My problem is I have not found anything I ENJOY that takes work 🙂 HOWEVER your trail running sounds AWESOME as I love the forest and nature and since I love walking my large Dog it might be fun to run a trail with my dog….Currently I do not live anywhere near the mountains (Hour drive away) but we have other trails I can run here in the Sierra Foothills of California, the “Shenandoah Valley” Wine and Gold Country.

    Thanks for sharing your successes it makes me believe I can do it and that I am NOT ALONE.

    Warmest Regards from Across the Pond!

  6. Jarrett Ridlinghafer says:

    PS – I believe….

  7. tim says:

    Jarrett, that’s great to hear. Get out on those trails! You’ll love it.

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