So where does all this start, this Simple Joy? For me it was a dream to be a footballer, Peter Shilton, actually. Yep, I was the chap between the sticks. I was pretty good with County representation leading to Regional at No2. I was also picked up by The Posh and twice a week attended Goalie training at London Road. Yes, you’ve guessed, I never made it, apparently I wasn’t tall enough. I guess a nice way of saying ‘You’re not good enough son’. Oh well.
“Hey, Stu, fancy running a Half Marathon?”
So in comes the running boom of the 80’s and the Great Eastern Run. No club, a little training on the roads and a new pair of ‘jogging shoes’. The Olympus Jog running shoe cost me the princely sum of £10 and away I went. I never looked back.
I was no great runner. I did run a 1-hour 22-minute Half Marathon, just missed out on a sub 30 minute 5-miler by a mere 4-seconds, which at the time left me feeling gutted. It was the Thorney 5 and the closest I have ever come to throwing up at the end of a race. I think comparatively speaking I did run a 17.45 5k, which is probably one of my better times. The truth is I just loved to run and all that went with it. I loved competition and seeing how fast I could run and yes it was in the main on the roads and country, with the odd sortie up north for a fell race. As to track running, I just couldn’t see the point of running in circles, although I did have a go and owned a couple of pairs of spikes.
“There’s a new road club being formed, you coming?”
Werrington Joggers was my first running club, one of three in fact. It was a right old mix of folks but we had laughs and some pretty competitive training. We also had a number of very experienced older heads, especially one chap in particular, Alan Haines. It chaps like Alan who ensured that running was more than just running. I can remember being shown one night, my first ever ‘Drill and Stretching’ session. Every week, I joined this group and this is what we did, along with faster paced work. It was kinda like a running mentoring-cum-lesson in the art of running. Drills, drills and more drills. The purpose as I remember was so we would be stronger runners, running with good technique and form. In those days we didn’t really get all this rubbish about how running shoes prevented injury, it was just marketing stuff. We all wore straightforward shoes, as light as possible and no more complicated than the original Nike Pegasus (what went wrong there is another topic altogether). The fact was injuries happened, it was seen as part of the ‘joy’ and one of those things.
So back to today. That ‘Simple Joy’… Gone are the desires to be competitive, well most of the time anyway, just a reemergence of running in the outdoors, with the occasional foray onto the roads when the need for speed arises. Then there is this worn-out knee…
“So we need to get that damaged knee stronger”.
Yep, you’ve guessed it I am back doing drills, power pick ups, squats and getting back to running with good technique. OK, I may a tad tubby these days, but I can still get up onto my mid-forefoot and run with reasonable technique. My running shoes are still lightweight, racer trainers and as simple as I can get them, except I do like a bit of cushioning and a bit of grip for the trails. No change there then.
So there you have it, I appear to have come, in many ways full circle. Funny old World, as it would appear so is the design of the running shoe.
“Now where’s those old footie boots…”
Next Time: It’s back to the knee, Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back…