by Steve Smyth (You Can Jog It)
Don’t get me wrong, there are worse off than me, but I was born in 1977 with underdeveloped hips, which was treated more aggressively than it is today, with boots and a bar across to keep my legs straight.
So I didn’t walk until I was two years old. I reckon I missed out somewhere along the line on developing a natural run. In my teens and 20s I suffered from chronic ITBS and a bone thinning disease that prevented me from continuing with (or being good at) active/contact sports. Occasionally I even had to resort to the use of a stick or crutch just to walk and climb stairs.
I tried running, as a hobby, a few times, but the pain and fear of making my condition worse, halted my progress on each occasion. So I stuck to lawn bowls, which I was half decent at. Winning the U-25 Irish singles in 2002 was one of my highlights.
In my late 20s I was finally taken in for keyhole surgery on both knees. Although it made them a little weaker it gave me something to build on as most of the pain had gone.
A few years later (Feb 2012) I took up running again when a cousin asked me to run my first half marathon to help raise money for the BCRT following the sad passing of her son (at just 18 years of age) the month before.
The half marathon was in Newry and after a pretty intense few months of training coming from absolutely no physical exercise and a stone or two overweight, I finished in a time of 2hrs 27mins.
Even when I completed this race I didn’t realise how much running would have an influence on me in years to come, how it would change me (save me even!) both physically and mentally.