Giving It a Proper Go

@ Belfast Marathon 2017…following on from Steve’s previous article…

As I said at the end of the last article, a change in career meant more unsociable hours and the need to consider giving up bowls, which I did do just a few months later. I started to keep a Friday night clear from other commitments, so that I could take my eldest daughter to the junior springwell club (later, the youngest would also attend), and to get to the senior training myself, a session I had never attended before, held at the same time and place.

It was here that I soon gained another level of enthusiasm and confidence in running and improving, with much thanks to the coach. I was also given the chi running book (by Danny Dreyer) by a friend and began reading. This brought about another major change in how I ran, as many of the things I had previously researched really only touched on the major aspects. I guess as expected the book went into much more detail; I enjoyed reading it and developing from it.

In 2015 I ran 10 miles in under 90 minutes and sent a message to the Friday night coach to say that I aimed to run the same race in under 80 minutes the following year, not really believing it myself… but she had belief in me, and again I responded to that… I continued to train hard and the following year I ran it in 1 hr 18 mins.

Also in 2016, after several attempts and narrowly missing out by matters of seconds on one occasion, I finally broke 2 hours for a half marathon at the waterside half, and later that year I was awarded the Rankin Male Endeavour at that year’s Springwell Running Club awards night. I was very proud of this achievement, following in the footsteps of some very good previous winners who I have great respect for.

As well as enjoying the improvements I was making, I enjoyed the fact that running had given two very good friends and I, from university days, a reason to reconnect. They were coming to the end of their footballing years and were much fitter than me, but we enjoyed the friendly competition and banter anyway, and meeting up at the odd race despite 90 or so miles separating us… and in 2017 we all decided to enter the Belfast marathon. I had also made some very good friends in springwell running club and enjoyed training and racing with them.

Training for the Belfast marathon was much easier the second time around… I had learnt from my mistakes and even successfully ran a marathon distance in training, just as a confidence booster. It worked out well on this occasion and I ended up finishing in 4hrs 10 minutes, good enough to set my sights on running a sub 4 in Dublin later the same year…

By Steve Smyth