A long time ago, in 2004 when some of our GFR members were still in school, I was talked into doing the Men’s Health 10k run. At that time, it took place around Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park. Although I had an on/off relationship with my gym membership, I had no real experience of running. I didn’t use the treadmill in the gym and at high school I had avoided PE as much as possible, often playing the “my asthma is acting up” card to avoid it. This was particularly true for cross country running, which I detested. I did most of the training on my own, around the streets of East Kilbride, or by starting to run on the treadmill. The big day came, and my work colleague and I did the race. My time wasn’t too bad either, although I was annoyed when it came in at 01:00:50. If only I had been a little faster. I didn’t feel too bad after the run and my lovely partner, now husband, Jason had been there to cheer me on.
However, I then saw the photo taken as I pushed towards the finish line. The photo that put me off running for NINE years. The photo which we now describe as the moment I became John Prescott’s lovechild:
That was it. Never again, I vowed. But then, a chance encounter at Glasgow Pride in 2013 changed all that.
Whilst at Pride with an old school friend, I noticed that Glasgow FrontRunners had a stall and were handing out leaflets. Although a confident person, for some reason I felt a bit shy so didn’t actually speak to any GFR folk on the day. However, it did peak my interest so I did some searching online and found the GFR website and a couple of old videos on YouTube. I decided I wanted to give running another try and it seemed like a great way to make new friends. However, I was quite anxious as I heading along for my first Thursday night. I had no real idea what to expect and was really worried that the club would be full of really fit Ryan Reynolds lookalikes, with six-packs and thighs like Chris Hoy, who would simply laugh when someone like me turned up to ‘give running a try’. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first thing that struck me was the diversity of the group. There were people of all different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities who were all very welcoming. I started in the 5k group and very slowly worked my way up. At times, I was shocked that I had stuck at it. Equally, there were times when I wanted to throw the towel in. Being made to run up a hill backwards on one particular Sunday comes to mind. By the Tuesday, I felt like I had experienced a stroke and was having to lift my legs in and out of the car! But I returned and GFR have helped me go from strength to strength. I surprised myself by completing my first half marathon in 2014, around a year after joining the club. I became a jog leader in 2016 and in October that year, I completed my first marathon in Munich, aged 39.
Now, at the start of 2018, I’m starting marathon training again as I join fellow GFR members tackling the Manchester Marathon (our other races) in April. I suppose the message I want to convey is that if I can go from complete beginner to running marathons, then anyone can. I have made so many great friends at GFR and it is through their encouragement that I can say I’m probably the fittest I have ever been. I still look horrendous whilst running, and there are photos to prove it, but I no longer care. Running is about looking after yourself, physically and mentally, and regardless of your times or distance covered, you are still doing more than folk sitting on that couch. Bring on that 42.195k in April!
David Hunter is the communications officer for Glasgow FrontRunners (2017/18).