Harry Smith is an Accelerate Community member and a regular at Running past 50, he shares his reason behind getting out the door for a run and its positive effect on his mental and physical health.
‘Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional ‘The words of Haruki Murakami when talking about running.
I started to run just 2 months short of my 72nd birthday. Dragooned into accompanying my 7-yearold Granddaughter on a park run As a fairly fit twice a week Derbyshire fell walker and numerous long-distance paths completed, i.e. Pennine Way and Coast to Coast, the thought of a 5-kilometre stroll in beautiful Devonian park land sounded appealing. Little did I know this was the start of an addiction. Dressed in old tennis shorts an aertex vest and non pc trainers I was surprised that among the fit, and to my mind young lycra clad who stretch and tried to push trees over, that I did not feel out of place. Walk and jogged. Experiencing euphoria ( or was I hyperventilating) as I was encouraged by other runners and clapped by marshalls as I plodded on. What a triumph not to finish last in a field of 90. Coffee and abacon buttie to follow. So, it all began.
Home to Sheffield and Saturday Park Runs became the norm. I stormed past 50 runs and proudly wear the red T shirt. Sub 30 became the target rain shine and even snow.
Then Accelerate in June 2018 started Running for the Over Fifties, affectionately known as The Wrinklies. The nucleus of the group quickly gelled thanks to coaches Sarah and Stuart. A whole new vocabulary with accompanying action had to be learnt. High Knees, Flamingos in Hot water, Fast feet, Cadence, the dreaded Hill reps and my nemesis Hopscotch. Harry take a breath! When Stuart’s elite young athletes train with us they seem amazed at our stamina and ability to do most of the exercises and drills almost correctly.
All this has a price with strained shoulders, hamstrings and lateral ligaments. Trips to Physio Pete soon put one straight as his fingers prob and manipulate tendons and muscles putting joints into positions mine have not been into in years. Still have to find a use for the black elasticated rubber strap he supplied!
I progressed and with the Wrinklies support entered the Longshaw 10k. My Everest. The Canal Canter had me winning my first and only running medal.
I feel have become part of the running fraternity now ensconced in Patagonia tops, silky shorts, skintight leggings, socks with L and R stamped on them and of course high-end running shoes from Inov-8. Move over Superman.
Back to the original question why I endure this self-inflicted physical torture?
Firstly- the problems of the world disappear as aches, breathlessness and sweat take over one’s life. Keep head up, stay upright, swing arms and place feet underneath become the mantra.
Secondly- To find that after running 5k, although well down the field, you have a respectable time and often first in age group is a boost to one’s ego. Amazed I could complete a 10k.
Thirdly and most important the camaraderie of runners, especially the Wrinklies. Humour is always in the air when we meet.
Finally, one feels fitter, weight is controlled, joints more flexible and muscles relaxed. The mind is clearer.
I long for my next fix as a true running junkie.
A massive thank you to Harry for putting this together, we look Forward to seeing you out running again soon.