The grass isn’t always greener…

As I look out of the window, the rain is beating against it and I can barely see outside.

Today is a very strange day, I’m not often affected by the weather but the past few weeks we’ve had nothing but rain – and I think I’m growing a little tired of it.

To lighten my mood, I’ve been listening to music, writing, drawing and thinking about the things I’m blessed with:

Financial comfort
Good food
A roof over my head
Running water
Electricity & gas

So what is it that makes us feel these things aren’t enough?

Nobody cares…

I’m not joking here…

Nobody actually cares!

The sooner you realise that, the sooner you can get on with your own life and be happier.

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, I find myself thinking about what drives people, why they do what they do and the complete lack of empathy shown by the majority of humans on this planet.

Sure, social media is full of ‘let’s all cry for this and that’, but how long does that really last?

Who actually sits up and makes a change in this world.

It’s fashionable to join in with the conversation when a terrible event occurs – but as a whole, we pay our little bit of lip service and carry on with our lives.

Why I told my boss where to shove it

I’ve never had a very good relationship with ‘real life’…

Go to school
Get a job
Work until you’re too old to enjoy it
Die with regrets

I made a decision to be my own boss before I even left high school.

My first business was going to be ‘MultiPlay’ – a world-wide multiplayer skill game with cash prizes. I had it all planned out, venues, costs, break-even points.

My parents had other ideas.

I agreed to go to college, then when that didn’t work out as planned I got a job in a warehouse – my dream to be my own boss took a massive detour.

I drifted through life, working for businesses I had no desire to work in, with people I didn’t care about, for bosses who had no interest in my dreams…

I wouldn’t say working for other people was a complete waste of time and talent…

I have learned many valuable skills along the way – but having a boss always felt like I’d given up.

Everything came to a head after I began freelancing.

At the time, I worked as a property negotiator for an estate agency, I started freelancing on the side.

I had a little money coming in and very few responsibilities.

I have a rather different view of ‘authority’ figures than most people. I don’t see a position, I see a person. For me, if you want respect, you earn it.

My boss at the time never earned my respect – she was a bully, and spent a lot of her time publicly mocking her staff.

One day I’d had enough.

In a weekly morning meeting, all the staff were discussing sales figures and projections – when out of the blue, my boss picked on something I’d said and mimicked me by putting her tongue into her bottom lip and repeating what I’d said.

She was basically telling me I was an idiot – in front of a room of my colleagues.

I kept calm, despite seeing red – and told her we’d talk about this after the meeting.

I stayed behind after my colleagues left the room and calmly told her I would be leaving.

I stood up to collect my jacket, and was met at the bottom of the stairs by her.

She looked quite shocked as she told me “You’ll be working your notice…”

And even more shocked when I smiled back and said “No, I will not”

Nobody should be forced to do things they don’t want to do, be somewhere they don’t want to be, or spend time with poisonous people.

That was a turning point in my life, I’d burned my bridges and decided I’d never have a job again.

Things didn’t quite work out that way – I did return to employment for around a year when the business wasn’t doing too well – but I kept building, and as soon as I was in position to leave, I quit for the last time.

That was 8 years ago – and freedom has never tasted so good.

An open letter, to myself…

This is a letter to me, to hold myself accountable from this day onwards.

Something I can look back on every time I need reminding that today is the day I made a decision…

A decision to change – to be a better person.

I have failed!

Three years ago I held the universe in my hands…

– I was in the best shape of my life
– I had goals, dreams and motivation
– I had money, opportunities and charisma
– I was respected and liked
– I was happy
– I was an inspiration

Today, I look back at who I was then and who I am now – and I don’t like what I see…

– I hand control to external factors
– I make poor decisions
– I have no drive or vision
– My dreams and goals turned to ‘if only’
– I make excuses instead of taking action
– I let other people choose whether I fulfil my goals or not

Somewhere along the line I stopped writing my own story and became a passenger in my own life.

In the past 3 years, I’ve been blessed with things I’ve waited my whole life for…

Meeting Anne-Marie – the missing part of me, the most understanding, loving, beautiful person I could imagine – who chose me, and gave me a future I wanted.

Becoming virtual step-dad to Lauren – although not my ‘first-born’, she is my ‘first child’ – I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful, confident, intelligent six year old – one day I’ll show her how to make all her dreams come true, and that you don’t ‘find’ happiness… you ‘make’ it.

Becoming a father to Jasmine – who turned my world upside down. Every day, I look at her and am amazed. Unfortunately, I missed Lauren’s first three years. I’m lucky to be given the chance to ‘build’ a human from scratch. To make mistakes and correct them, while watching a new-born baby grow into one of the most intelligent creatures I’ve ever encountered.

I’ll protect them until the day I die, I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll make up for them.

The sad thing is, I haven’t been able to fully appreciate everything because I haven’t been ME.

Today, that changes – it has to…

Without change, I can’t help make our dreams a reality.

I must be there to help Anne-Marie and both my little girls have every opportunity in life…

– To travel the world and expand their minds
– To experience the true beauty of this world
– To learn lessons for themselves, with our help
– To live a life that makes them happy
– To be loved unconditionally

Nobody will ever stand in the way of their happiness, certainly not me.

I’ll show them how to dream, and how to make those dreams come true.

Even though I make it hard to believe sometimes, the three women in my life are my reason to be alive.

Which is why I need to change.

The old me dies today, he is broken, I’ve tried to fix him but I can’t…

When something fails to work…
You can’t always fix it…
Sometimes you just have to tear it down…
Tear it down and rebuild it from scratch…

At midnight tonight, I begin rebuilding myself, in the image of the perfect human.

– A strong, healthy body
– A strong, healthy mind

There will be obstacles, there will be mistakes – I will go through, around or over the obstacles and I will fix the mistakes quickly.

The past stays where it is – a stranger to me, a lesson and an example of how not to be.
The future is an open book – one we will write together.

The new me is:

– Proactive, not reactive
– Grateful for everything
– Always improving
– Always helpful
– Ready to learn
– Willing to do what it takes, no excuses

I will not fail.

So tired…

Got up this morning for a run, at 4:15am. Today was my girlfriend’s last day of work before starting her maternity leave, and she starts at 6am – so I needed to be out and back before she left for work.

I went to bed at 8pm to make sure I got a full 8 hours sleep, at midnight I woke up wondering if I’d missed my alarm, then again at 1, and 2.

I had planned to go back to sleep for an hour or two afterwards, but ended up soldiering on with work today.

Nice early night for me tonight, ready for another run tomorrow. Apparently the wind has been whipping the sea across the promenade today – should make for an interesting run.

A little bit of momentum…

It feels awesome to be 2 days into the clean eating and running routine, yep, I got out there again this morning for another run. Providing I can get up early enough to run before my girlfriend goes to work, I’ll be out there tomorrow too.

I really do love running, although at the moment I’m nowhere near the level of fitness I was when I climbed Ben Nevis – but I can already feel some improvements. Today’s run was much easier than yesterday’s. If anybody is considering taking up running, I seriously recommend a Couch to 5k plan.

It’s so good to be forming new habits again – this afternoon, I polished off a mushroom and sun-dried tomato omelette with a side of spinach, and as I finished the final mouthful I told a friend how much I enjoy cooking such simple but tasty food. This evening’s meal was roast lamb with roasted vegetables, mushrooms and green beans – another triumph of clean eating and a pleasure to eat too.

It’s amazing how picking up old habits can inspire you so much – now that I’m keeping a log of what I’m eating, I’ve found that I don’t even want to reach out for a chocolate bar or a tube of Pringles.

Now I have momentum on my side, things are looking very positive – I’m looking forward to running, I’m looking forward to meals that I know are doing me good, and I’m not craving any of the foods (or should I say snacks) that tempted me just a few days back. I’m not naive enough to think I’ve formed the habit yet – but I’m stubborn, and I’m on a mission now.

The moral of the story is – if you have a goal of any kind, or want to make a change, just start then keep moving forwards.

A new beginning…

As always, yesterday I reflected on the successes and failures of the year gone by – and made a fresh commitment to my fitness.

Last night, I weighed and measured – so I can keep a monthly record of body improvements, I also wrote out a mission statement for the year:

“Today I throw away old habits including laziness, procrastination and unhealthy eating – I will measure monthly and work relentlessly to improve my fitness.”

I’ve also written down 3 specific fitness goals for the year:

  • To lose 4 stone by December 31st 2014
  • To compete in Tough Mudder this year
  • To run 26 miles non-stop by December 31st 2014 (organised marathon, or just for fun)

As a way of keeping motivated, I’ll be taking side, front & back photographs, and pasting it inside a food/activity log along with the month’s measurements. Keeping a diary helps me form habits and keeps me accountable to myself.

At the time of writing – I am 18 stone (113.7kg) which is the heaviest I’ve ever been, completely unfit and have a waist measurement of 48 inches.

My complete measurements are:

  • Weight: 18st / 113.7kg
  • Hip: 46in
  • Waist: 48in
  • Chest: 47in
  • Thigh: 23in
  • Calf: 17in
  • Bicep: 15in

So, I took the first steps today – I restarted Couch to 5k training using the “Ease in to 5k” app. At 5am, I woke and dressed – anxious to begin, took a few mouthfuls of water, and headed out of the door at around 5:30am.

The 3 stone I’d put on during my ‘sloth period’ didn’t materialise into the knee punishment I was expecting, this is good news – I suppose all the squats, jump squats and lunges I’d been doing prior to my fitness sabbatical helped there.

The only major weakness at this time is my cardiovascular fitness which will come with time and consistency… at times, during the walk periods of the Couch to 5k training, it felt as though Mariusz Pudzianowski (5 times World’s Strongest Man) was trying to break out of my rib cage with his fists.

But, I made it to the end of C25K day 1 (for the 3rd time) – and I’m on the road again where I belong.

Well, it was a good idea to begin with…

What a crazy year it’s been. And what an unproductive year for this particular blog.

As 2014 comes to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on successes, failures and some of the important things that have happened.

Firstly a few failures I need to own up to:

I completely let the fitness slip for various reasons (read excuses).

I spent far too much time working, and not enough time enjoying family life.

I completely forgot about my bucket list, the 2015 goal for completion of half of the items is pretty far fetched now with a time limit of only 2 years (but, I’m not bowing out just yet).

And now a few things I’m incredibly proud of:

My wonderful girlfriend is around one month away from giving birth to our baby girl – this is without doubt my proudest moment to date, a huge motivator and focus for the future and everything that happens from this point onwards is for my family.

I did manage to tick a couple of things off the bucket list – I climbed Ben Nevis earlier this year, I decreased my bodyweight to 92kg (now a lot heavier), cycled 5 miles, earned £1000 in one day, donated blood (hopefully saving a life), inspired others (to give blood & get fitter), taught (partially) a child to read & performed 100 sit ups.

I continued to build my business to a point where it can support our growing family from a desk in our home without having to answer to a boss, all the while decreasing the number of hours I work on average.

Finally, a few hopes for the future:

Now that I’ve got that off my chest – I am able to make a few public declarations.

1) The running starts again NOW – as of tomorrow, I’m restarting the running journey, slowly but steadily building up from 0 to ultra marathon runner.

2) This blog will be used as a way to keep in touch with the world, help inspire others and as a diary – to keep me accountable for my goals.

3) I intend to spend much less time working and more time enjoying family life – with a little one on the way, all my priorities are changing.

I’ll be blogging frequently too – I’d started the year with the best of intentions but never made the time, that’s a habit I do intend to break.

Happy new year, all the best for 2014.

My 2013-2015 bucket list

A short while ago, some life changes got me thinking more about the things I want to do with my life. I always advocate writing goals down so they’re right in front of you – not sitting at the back of your mind as merely ‘wouldn’t it be nice if…’ thoughts.

It hit me that I hadn’t actually written any of my own goals down. In fact, I hadn’t written a list of goals for a very long time. I’m highly motivated and passionate about what I want from life, but I’d lost focus. How can I achieve things, if I’m not constantly reminding myself of the things I want to achieve?

I wrote a list of 130 things I must do before 2015. Some of them are crazy, way beyond the comfort zones of most people – I just think that comfort zones are self imposed restrictions… I dare to reach higher, and I’m not scared of falling on my face because I will get back up.

I’m sure some of these seem ridiculous, if I think rationally about the list, some of them seem ridiculous to me too. But I’m willing to bet that I will achieve or experience at least half of these goals before the end of January 1st 2016.

Here’s my list in no particular order:

  1. Be debt free
  2. Run 5km under 20 minutes
  3. Run 10km under 40 minutes
  4. Run a half marathon
  5. Run a full marathon
  6. Run 50km
  7. Run 50 miles
  8. Run 100 miles
  9. Run 150 miles
  10. Swim 1 mile
  11. Swim 5 miles
  12. Cycle 5 miles
  13. Cycle 10 miles
  14. Cycle 25 miles
  15. Cycle 50 miles
  16. Cycle 100 miles
  17. Help to raise £5,000 for cancer charities
  18. Help to raise £10,000 for cancer charities
  19. Compete in Ironman
  20. Attain a bodyfat percentage of less than 6%
  21. Skydive
  22. Bungee
  23. Earn £1,000 in one day
  24. Earn £5,000 in one day
  25. Earn £10,000 in one day
  26. Earn £50,000 in one day
  27. Be on the cover of a magazine
  28. See the Aurora Borealis
  29. Visit the pyramids
  30. Visit the Coliseum
  31. Save a life
  32. Fly in a hot air balloon
  33. Fly a plane
  34. Fly a helicopter
  35. Release an album of music I’ve written
  36. Go rock climbing
  37. Climb a mountain
  38. Achieve a world record
  39. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  40. Get a degree
  41. Help to build a school
  42. Donate blood
  43. Publish a book
  44. Have my own child
  45. Become a qualified lifeguard
  46. Become a personal trainer
  47. Swim the English Channel
  48. Learn sign language
  49. Learn conversational French
  50. Learn conversational German
  51. Learn conversational Spanish
  52. Learn conversational Chinese
  53. Cliff jump
  54. Ride a motorbike
  55. Do 50 pull ups
  56. Do 100 push ups
  57. Do 100 sit ups
  58. Double my 1 rep max in 5 lifting exercises
  59. Read 100 books and review them
  60. Decrease my working hours to 4 hours a week
  61. Own a gold bar
  62. Achieve £5,000 net worth
  63. Achieve £50,000 net worth
  64. Achieve £500,000 net worth
  65. Achieve £1m net worth
  66. Achieve £5m net worth
  67. Design my ideal home
  68. Build my ideal home
  69. Own my own land
  70. Go to a Wimbledon tennis final
  71. Go to the F1 at Monaco
  72. Go to the F1 at Silverstone
  73. Go to the World Snooker Championships final
  74. Learn, and make 100 recipes
  75. Lean, and make 100 cocktails
  76. Eat at the restaurant under the sea
  77. Eat in the sky
  78. Give £100 to a total stranger
  79. Live abroad for 6 months
  80. Visit all 7 continents
  81. Take up boxing training
  82. Visit a buddhist temple
  83. Sell a website for £10m
  84. Own a Walt Disney film cel
  85. Eat a fish I caught myself
  86. Own a boat
  87. Design a tattoo
  88. Arrange a medieval night at a pub/restaurant
  89. Scuba dive
  90. Inspire 100 people to write their own bucket list
  91. Surf
  92. Take up kickboxing training
  93. Hang glide
  94. Play in a band
  95. Abseil
  96. White water raft
  97. Swim with sharks
  98. Score a bullseye with a bow and arrow
  99. Get my whole family together for Christmas dinner
  100. Inspire someone
  101. Teach someone to read
  102. Teach a child to ride a bike
  103. Visit the Grand Canyon
  104. Drive a super-car
  105. Ride a jet ski
  106. Water ski
  107. Ski
  108. Snowboard
  109. Sell my own painting
  110. Be well known for doing something great
  111. Go zip lining
  112. Go on a cruise
  113. Swim in a waterfall pool
  114. Go to Hogmanay
  115. See a volcano erupting
  116. Go to the opera
  117. See a West End show
  118. Have a tennis lesson
  119. Ride a boat on the Amazon
  120. Build a tree house
  121. See a tornado
  122. Learn to juggle
  123. See the Taj Mahal
  124. Float in the Dead Sea
  125. See a blue whale
  126. Go on safari
  127. Build a roundhouse
  128. Plant a tree
  129. Own a seafront property
  130. Eat exotic meats

Some of the goals are stepping stones to other goals. The financial goals are insane at this point – but, massive goals inspire massive action. Setting limited goals can only stop you pushing harder.

As I achieve each goal, I’ll come back and highlight them – I’ll also mark the completion date on the list above. I’ll be taking pictures or videos along the way for a project I’m planning later on.

If you don’t have your own list of at least 10 things you MUST do in the next 2 years, I think you’re missing a huge opportunity. Think long and hard about what you’d love to do – I’d love to hear from you when you make your own list.

Couch to Ultramarathon – Part 1: The Road To 5k

Now that I’ve hit my first running goal – running 5km without a walking break, I’m about to start the next step – training to run in a 10km charity event, I begin Monday, and will be sharing my thoughts along the way.

My last 5km run clocked in at 30 minutes, I have an overall target time of 20 minutes, as my fitness and distances increase – my 5km times will come down considerably.

My distance goals are:

  • 5km
  • 10km
  • 15km
  • half marathon
  • full marathon
  • 50 mile ultramarathon
  • 100 mile ultramarathon
  • 100 mile+

As I achieve each milestone I’ve set for myself towards my ultramarathon goals, I’m going to write a little bit about the journey so far – a diary of sorts to keep me focused and document progress I’ve made.

When I first decided I was going to run an ultra, I knew I was starting from zero and that small but consistent regular improvements were going to get me there. Far from being knowledgeable about running, I decided my best chance of becoming a runner was to start small and set myself realistic goals. This way, I could minimise the risks of injury, build up a good level of fitness, and get the momentum needed to push for my longer term goals.

5km seemed to be quite a good place to start – just over 3 miles, and at least 5 times further than I’d ever run in my life. I searched Google for some tips on getting from 0 to 5km. Everywhere I looked, I heard about “Couch to 5k” and “Run/Walk intervals”.

I did some research, the Couch to 5k theory sounded good – in a nutshell, you build up your stamina by running for a very short period of time and then walking to recover – and repeat. Each session lasts around 30 minutes and you train three times a week. At the start of each week, the length of your running sections increases, and your recovery times eventually begin to decrease, until you’re running more that you’re walking.

By the end of 8 weeks you should be running for a full 30 minutes – which for most people (running 10 minutes per mile), is enough to reach 5km.

To save me timing my intervals with a stopwatch (taking my focus away from running), I looked for an iPhone app which would help. I discovered Ease Into 5k by Bluefin Software, which provided audio instructions to ‘run’ and ‘walk’ at the beginning of each interval.

I was ready…

The first session starts with a 5 minute warm up walk, then 9 repetitions of a 60 sec run and a 90 sec walk. Then finally, a 5 minute cooldown walk.

I’d already mastered walking 10km, this will be easy…

Unfit was not the word… every run section was torture – I felt like my legs were going to fall off, my lungs seemed like they were going to burst and my heart was trying to escape from my chest.

How could my body feel broken from under a minute of running?

My mind was much stronger – I kept angrily repeating the words “Keep going, come on fat boy… come on, come on!” I was fat, this was the reason – I was lazy, I didn’t exercise – running was the cure.

Nothing was going to stop me, I will not be defeated, EVER… I kept on, longing to hear the sound of the app’s ‘chime’ followed by the instruction to ‘walk’, then it arrived. 90 seconds of bliss – time to walk, recover, catch my breath and prepare for the next 8 torturous repetitions.

Come on fat boy, come on fat boy… COME. ON. FAT. BOY!

By the time the my phone told me to ‘cool down’ I was a mess, my t-shirt soaked with sweat, red faced, legs burning and my heart pounding – but I’d done it, I didn’t stop when I thought I had to.

I’d taken the first step – despite the discomfort, I felt amazing. I had chosen to run, and I ran.

The next two sessions of the week went well – armed with the knowledge that I didn’t die the first time, I’d already proven to myself that I could run and walk when the plan told me to – it became a game to me.

Week two upped the ante slightly, a 5 minute warm up walk, then 5 repetitions of a 60 sec run and a 90 sec walk, followed by a 90 sec run and a 90 sec walk. Then, a 5 minute cooldown walk.

The extra 30 seconds of running felt fine, I already felt fitter after the first week and I was ready to go again long before my walking intervals had finished.

The weeks progressed and I kept on with the plan – it was working for me, and I was going to follow it to the letter. I began to love the routine, being out on the tarmac by the sea with nothing but my own company, a few tunes and Ease Into 5k for company.

My eating habits had changed – why eat junk just to run it off again? I began to lose weight without even thinking about it. I started at 110kg and just before my 32nd birthday I weighed 99kg. I’d lost around 10% of my bodyweight in just over a month, I felt amazing.

By week 5 I was running 5 minute intervals, walking 2 minutes, then in week 6 my world fell apart.

It was just after my birthday in 2012 when my girlfriend broke up with me – we’d been living apart for a while, trying to work things out when I heard from her that we were over. At the time, it felt like I’d hit rock bottom. I won’t go into detail about the breakup, the past belongs right where it is.

My motivation to run disappeared, I also began to think less about what I was eating. The weight I’d lost didn’t quite creep back on, it’s marched on like the Salvation Army brass band. I buried myself in my work, and tried to keep my mind busy.

I didn’t quite realise how long had passed before a friend of mine asked me about my running, I told him I hadn’t been for a while and I had been too busy working since the breakup. He told me to get out there, go to the top end of the promenade (5km) and back (another 5km), run/walk/crawl if I had to…

“Running is the best anti-depressant known to man”, he said.

I didn’t feel depressed, but I’ll never forget his words – they hit me right where they needed to. Running did feel good, I love the acheivement, I missed it, I wanted it in my life.

For a split second, I thought about how much work I had to do – then my motivation took over – an hour won’t hurt…

“You’re right, I’m heading out now.” I didn’t want to wait, if I had waited, I might not have done it. I put on my trainers, my headphones and I was running again.

For the first mile, I was flying – two or three minutes running, slowing to a jog and then walking when I absolutely had to. Just after the first mile I was sick, in my rush to get out of the door I’d forgotten that I’d eaten a large lunch less than 10 minutes before leaving. My stomach really didn’t want me to continue, I thought about turning back, but I’d already started and I wasn’t going to let myself down.

I walked the next mile and a half. Walking made my stomach feel better, I started running again – my legs didn’t like it very much but they kept me going – I jogged as far as I could, when I thought I couldn’t jog any further, I sprinted for 10 seconds to prove myself wrong, and finally walked to recover.

By the time I reached the end of the promenade I was exhausted, I’d put in a lot of effort and hadn’t run for 10 weeks, I turned around and started back home. I walked most of the way, every now and then picking a lamp post or a bench in the distance and running to it.

I got home, jumped straight into a hot bath and lay there soaking my aching legs while reading a book.

This was it, I was back, I really had missed running and I wasn’t going to let anything get between me and my ultramarathon goals again – Work, relationships, nothing. The only thing that could ever slow me down would be injury, I can reduce the risks by learning as I go.

My legs ached for a couple of days, so I rested them before I went back out to start my couch to 5k journey again. The plan had worked for me before, and I was going to follow it all the way to the end this time.

I had become quite busy with design work, instead of trying to squeeze in a run where i could or running at the end of the day when I knew I’d have least motivation, I made running my first priority – I’d be up at 5:30am without fail on run days.

For the next few weeks, I was out by 5:45am every other day, pacing the promenade – fresh, motivated and getting fitter. My first few weeks were easy, I barely needed the walk intervals – I knew the plan worked so I didn’t want to skip ahead – I was going to follow it from the beginning to the end.

I got invited out for a drink with some friends – I was introduced to Anne-Marie, a friend of a friend and we got talking about running, goals and life in general. I must have been quite passionate about it because later that night I had a message on Facebook from her, telling me she’d decided to take up running, thanking me for the inspiration.

We got talking and ended up running together a few nights later. I kept up my morning 5k training and also ran some evenings with my new running buddy. Through our shared interests, we’ve grown very close and we are now in a wonderful relationship together – she keeps me grounded and inspires me even more than I can inspire myself.

We ran regularly, and each time we did – I was able to beat some of my personal best distances – proud that I’d run further than the time before. One night, Anne-Marie told me she’d gone out the night before and run a full 5k. We were due to run and she told me she thought I could make the same distance.

Could I? What’s the worst that could happen?

I hadn’t reached the end of my 5k training yet, but with someone by my side who had already done it – would I push myself that little bit further?

I don’t say no to many challenges – this was no different.

We set off on our familiar route along the promenade, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. We seemed to be running a little faster than usual, I told myself this was a good thing, if we started to get tired we’d have a little room to slow down if we needed to recover. My breathing technique isn’t the greatest and the thought of trying to run a full 5k when I’d never done it before was playing on my mind, sapping some of my motivation.

It was tough – I used every trick I knew to keep me moving. First, I set my sights on the half way point, if I could get there without stopping, surely I could turn around and do the same back again. My legs started to feel heavy at around a mile, less than half way – my breathing and my heart felt fine, I could still hold a conversation so we weren’t going too fast.

I already knew from experience that my legs could carry me a lot further than I felt they could at the time, so I kept going.

As we ran, we stayed side by side, if one of us fell back slightly we slowed down but never stopped to walk. At around a mile and a half, I could see the half way point marker – a life belt at the Heysham end of Morecambe promenade. I tried to speed up a little to give myself some extra motivation. We both tapped the life belt with our hands and turned around, making our way back – slower than our original pace, but steady.

I can’t stop now, I’m already more than half way there – all I have to do is the same as I’ve just done, and I’ll reach my first running goal, earlier than planned. Being ahead of schedule on my 5km plan was the key, I like to beat my own expectations, if I did this, I’d be weeks ahead of my goal.

Music, that’s what I need…

When I run with Anne-Marie, I don’t bother taking my headphones – I prefer the company. When I’m running alone, I love to have music in my ears. I started to sing in my head – I don’t know why I picked Mr Brightside, but it kept me going.

Mile two passed by and we’re nearly two thirds done – this was already the furthest I’d run without a walking break, my legs felt fine, my breathing felt good and my heart didn’t feel like it was trying to break my ribs from the inside.

Two and a half miles, I begin to struggle – it always happens to me, the end is in sight and somehow I feel extra effort is needed to get me past the finish line. I didn’t feel like giving up at all, just that the last section was harder than everything that came before. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like I know the end is near so I’m winding down. Something I’m going to have to overcome through training.

The last 250m were the worst, by now I’m convinced I’ll make it to the end, I’ve run further than ever before, I just want it to be over – I know it’s in the mind, but I have to do something to distract myself.

I don’t have hang ups about my shape, weight or size, running is taking care of everything – I know what motivates me, sometimes smiling, sometimes laughing, this time, in the last quarter kilometer I needed to hate myself…

“Come on you fat ****, come on – grrrrrrr!”

This time, the words weren’t in my head – I was growling them through gritted teeth.

200m… 150m…

“Come on fat boy….”

100m… 50m… DONE!

I’d done it, as soon as I stopped, I coughed a little and felt like I was going to puke. I took a mouthful of water and walked home with Anne-Marie, both exhausted, but grinning.

“Told you!” She said.

“I know, I know – I knew I could do it, I just needed to do it to be sure” I replied.

Since then, we’ve been 5k runners – we’ve gone a little further as an experiment, but consistently running 5k slightly faster than the last time has been our collective goal.

My next target is 10km, I trust the Ease Into 5k app, so I bought Bluefin Software’s Bridge to 10k app yesterday – ready to start the plan on Monday.

If you’ve read this far, thank you – it means a lot. I hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far, I’ll keep up with the updates. If you’re training for anything or you’re on the way towards one of your life’s goals I’d love to hear from you.