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Great North Run 2014 – Part One

Almost two weeks ago, I had crossed the finish line to complete my very first Bupa Great North Run, and it was an amazing experience.

Before that, almost one year ago, I thought I had what it takes to run 13.1 miles. Being a natural sports person, I thought that I had the attributes and fitness to do the training – trouble was, I didn’t know what kind of training it involved.

Let me take you back 11 months ago, a time where after full-time work was done, I didn’t have a hobby to call my own or take my mind off a busy day.

Winter was slowly approaching, darker nights began to creep in at 8pm and the effect that the world’s best half marathon had, was still rooted around the region with people running almost, everywhere.
For the first time in ten years, I was without a training group – It was a feeling that I was unfamiliar with and something I would have to get used to. I’d find myself coming home and just sitting for the rest of the evening or going to watch Emma train. It got me agitated, the feeling of being lazy and not having anything to train for really messed with my head.

I looked at options, which sport could I enjoy that would challenge me at the same time? I looked at football, but then realised I’m nowhere near as good as I thought I was. Golf – but then realised I couldn’t play during the day ,nor could I afford it. Then I seen road running.

As former sprinter, I loathed ‘joggers’, running around and around a track or along a road looked so boring and tedious that even I began to fall asleep watching them do laps and lengths. But never had I watched or tried Road Running myself to get some sort of understanding – to put it politely, I was an anti-jogger. Love it or hate it, it was time to banish the hate of distance running and learn to adopt it as a long-lost friend.

I decided to try coach/train myself for 2013/14 (it didn’t last long), thanks to following and past training my former coach, Matt Wood and help from my close friend Nick Ridgeon, I had a fair understanding of what I should look like when I run, technique and routines in the gym to help me become more stronger.

In 2011, I suffered a tear in my anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) while competing in a local competition. Nick helped me massively to rebuild my body and confidence from scratch, so with that past experience, I knew how important I was to make sure that both my knees, particularly my right, were strong before I even thought about running hard distances.

Over 2013, I limited myself to a three mile run every Friday, from my house to the quayside and back home, it was tough! Instantly I thought to myself “What on earth are you playing it, Briggs?! This is too far to run!” If I couldn’t even run three miles, how the hell was I going to add another ten onto it? That one negative thought put me off and my training became sporadic, poor, eventually, stopping.

I was introduced to the ParkRun by friends, and although I did enjoy running them (and setting back-to-back personal bests), I just felt that I was still out my depth with this running malarkey and it wasn’t until March when my much needed, kick up the backside came – my confirmation that I was in the Great North Run 2014.

As you can imagine, panic engulfed me and the realisation that I’d have to train for it sank in, even my girlfriend, Emma, was getting agitated with me for not running. I had to do something, and luckily for me Luke Adam’s GNR workshop was just the ticket.

His delivery of what to do and how to approach it, as well as being in a room full of first timers, made me think that this run is do-able, I had four months to get ready for and to me, that was ample time to prepare myself.

From May to August I trained and really pushed myself to the absolute limit. I avoided injuries, illness and negativity and put all the hard work on the roads. Along the way I set a new personal best for my 5k and my 10k which was a massive boost to see how well I’ve come on and how strong I’ve become.

Soon, 10 miles became a walk in the park, 1 mile reps were a breeze and this felt amazing! I even broke six minutes for a timed mile – “why didn’t I do this earlier?!” As the date drew closer, so did the nerves. Weeks became days and days became hours, before I knew it, I was at the start line…

Read part two HERE.

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