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Why I’m Deciding to Run 20km When I Can Hardly Run 2km: Part 1

It’s 29th November 2022. I’m 172 cm (5ft 8”) and weigh in at 108 kg (238 lbs). According to the NHS Body Mass Index; I am clinically obese.

Looking in the mirror though, I’m not too bad. My upper body is quite toned — all I have is this Pirelli tyre of fat wrapped around my midriff. It’s not too bad; girls don’t seem to mind. Seems so long as you have broad shoulders, the ladies are satisfied. I could delve deeper into that point but that’s for a different article.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with my body but there’s something about being forced to buy XL jumpers which is starting to grate on me. My ideal body type would be muscular but lean.

I’ve always had ‘issues’ with my weight. I was very lean as a child until one unfortunate summer where my weight ballooned; a diet of fried breakfasts and video games didn’t help.

Through my teens and my early twenties, my weight yo-yoed. I went from skinny, to stocky, skinny again, stocky again; on and on — fad diets and exercise trends being the main catalyst.

From my early twenties to now aged thirty, my weight has gradually increased. Most men will experience a sudden weight increase of a few kilos in their late twenties as their bones densify. It’s the reason why most sportsmen try to stay as lean as possible around this age to avoid becoming ‘heavy’.

During the first lockdown, my weight reached 100 kg. This was the heaviest I had ever been up until that point. Upon seeing those three figures on my scale, I immediately set a goal to get down to 85 kg. My Fitness Pal and Strava were downloaded and I was on my way. This was May 2020. With gyms closed, my only choice was to hit the curb and start running.

In school, I had been a sprinter and always hated long distance running. Naturally, I’m more akin to pace and power. But this, for me, felt part of the challenge. I gave it a good go. At first, I was terrible; barely hitting 5 km within 45 mins — but I got better and soon began to really enjoy the effort and struggle that came with the art of running. Runner’s high is a major de-stress for the body and, during the chaos of lockdown, it was very well received. I ran around 15–25 km a week and kept it up for around a year.

I dieted for the first three or four months. I would use MFP to clock all the calories I consumed during the day and made sure that I was always at a deficit. The effort though really came down staying full and staying energised.

I have to say that cheap, wholewheat, store branded pasta was a God send. 300 grams of Sainsbury’s Wholewheat Fusilli is only 460 calories and that with chicken breast and broccoli is a very filling meal that’s only around 1000 calories.

Naturally, I’m not a big eater in the mornings but during this time I made an effort to try and eat a couple of squares of Weetabix with some jam, peanut butter, a small banana and soy milk. This was 500–600 calories and quite filling. It also prevented hunger pangs and a dip in energy come early afternoon.

I would tend to skip lunch but if I was peckish, I would try and have something small; boiled eggs, cottage cheese, avocado etc. Always aimed for around 400–600 calories and never skimped on the protein!

I really saw the difference that only a little bit of chocolate and booze can do to tip the scale when it comes to weight loss/ gain. I also stayed away from bread.

I ran mainly in the late afternoons or early evenings — naturally it’s when I feel I have the most energy. I also drank a lot of caffeine and Coca Cola Zeros — which I wouldn’t recommend.

With the diet and the running I managed to get down to around 87 kg (13 kg loss) by late August 2020. I couldn’t get any lower for love nor money. But at that point I was happy with my weight. My focus shifted towards getting a better 5 km time and running further distances.

My all time peak came in February 2021 when I ran 15 km at 1 hr 22 min. I wasn’t overly impressed but looking back it was a decent achievement considering where I was less than a year before.

But, what happened? In April 2021, I was struck with an adductor tear and could no longer train. I had never really had a proper injury before and no one really prepares you for it. I decided to play it safe until I knew the full extent of the damage and to take a break from all forms of exercise. It was a huge mistake.

What I would say to anyone that has an injury is not to stop exercising entirely and to keep doing a form of exercise that doesn’t exacerbate the problem. A rowing machine would have been fine for me but I chose to take the lazy option and did nothing but wait for the injury to go away completely. Little did I know that it would take over a year to heal.

Fast forward to 2022; I’m now 108 kg and severely lacking fitness. I’m happy but I’m drinking and eating more than ever. I’ve been enjoying myself but now I feel like I need to refocus and set my sights on a new fitness goal. That’s where the half marathon comes in.

Not only do I aim to run further than I’ve ever done before, I’d also like to beat my time (pro-rata) that I got in my record 15 km back in February 2021. That would mean doing the half marathon inside of two hours.

I’ve never taken part in any official races and have no idea what it’s going to be like. The half marathon is the Hackney Half Marathon and will be taking place on 21st May 2023. That gives me a good six months to prepare.

Right now, I can barely do 2 km without stopping. A lot of this has to do with the extra weight I’m carrying. The first step will be to shed some kilos and attempt to do a solid 5 km before the start of January. I’ll be back on Medium then with a Part 2 of how all this pans out.

So, why am I doing this? Because who doesn’t love a comeback!

Let’s see what happens…

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