My Running Story – Volume 2

Just a little under three years ago I wrote a post entitled “My Running Story” which you can read if you click on the title just now (the blue words. CLICK THE BLUE WORDS!). In this post I outlined my transition from a run hater to finally using the word runner to describe myself, over the period of a year. I also shared a brief bit about why I started running and why I decided to continue. (Spoiler alert: I started running to impress a girl. Of course I did, what else was it going to be?) Today I thought it was finally time to update my running story and see what has changed in these last three years. I’ll do it in three parts…


My newest pair of road shoes, which I got from my parents for my 24th birthday. These are my 4th pair of “proper” running shoes for roads (and the easily the brightest)!

Part One (Hundred)

Straight off the back of that blog post I kept on running and never looked back. I didn’t get particularly fast and never did manage to bring down my Newbury parkrun pb time (it’s still at 22:17 to this day). I found myself actively enjoying running, to the point where it quickly became my favourite thing to do. I found myself going out running in the week, not just at parkruns and I entered and completed a few more organised race events (I say race loosely, I have never and will never run one of these with the intention of racing it to win. I just like organised routes and medals). I injured myself a bit but nothing major and I kept ploughing on with the distance, eventually getting to the point where I entered the BUPA Great South Run. I finished the GSR in a time of 1:24:08 (I think – somewhere around there anyway) and whilst my legs hurt for days after it, I was incredibly proud of what I’d done.

My friends had all left Portsmouth at the end of our final year in University, that previous July, around the time of the last post, and I found myself mixing a lot more with the Havant parkrun regulars. I’ve made some wonderful friends through Havant parkrun and I if I’m being completely honest I don’t think I would still be running today without their support. It gets hard sometimes (more on that in Part 2) but the people I’ve met and run with kept me going. The crowning achievement of this next year of running was the day that I ran my 100th parkrun, earning entry into the coveted 100Club and getting my next free parkrun T-Shirt. I was even incredibly lucky to have two of my three best friends and ex-housemates come down for the weekend to run with me on my 100th, in addition to the Tea Themed course and Hi-Vis vest that I received from my parkrun friends. I was happy in my ability to run and felt more comfortable doing it, talking about it and enjoying it.

Part 2  Mojo No Go

It all went a bit to pot after the 100 Club. I’d suffered at the hands of my PGCE year and put on a bit of weight. That continued throughout my time in my NQT year and found myself stressed and working so hard to keep up with the gruelling demands of the school. I lost myself a bit and didn’t run as much. I hardly ever went out in the week and my road shoes sat neglected on our shoe rack. I had no mojo to go out and run. By the time I’d got home from work and had dinner it was usually 8pm and I had books to mark and lessons to plan. I was writing a new scheme of work each half term, and frequently even wrote two of them since I was teaching three different subjects at this point. I even had to plan my own RE lessons since it was apparently a “weakness in my teaching” (I did take the time to explain on multiple occasions that yes, my RE teaching wouldn’t be as good as my Geography teaching because I hadn’t studied RE since Year 11 and even then I didn’t like it. I’M A GEOGRAPHER! But did anybody listen? Of course they bloody well didn’t and of course it was all my fault who else could plan those lessons? Oh I don’t know… THE RE DEPARTMENT MAYBE? No. They didn’t.)

As a result of being tired and stressed my running suffered. My times got slower and I just couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort to bring it all back together. What was the point? I was slow anyway and I didn’t enjoy running anymore. It became a bit of a chore – something I only did to keep myself vaguely active and only then once a week at the most. I tried going to the gym to get back into it, but I was too lazy. I just couldn’t be bothered anymore.

I still went to parkrun though. Every week on Saturday morning I’d get up, I’d go to parkrun and I’d run 5 kilometres. I might have been a lot slower, I stopped to walk a lot but I still did it. It was this routine, and the people I met and mentioned before that pulled me through my year and a bit of no mojo. As I said, I would have probably quit if it was only me.

It all came back eventually though. I found myself running in the week again and making time for it. I started training regularly in Tae Kwon-Do once again after taking roughly 5 years out to do University and Teacher Training and I slowly brought my fitness back to an acceptable (by my standards) level. I’m still a lot slower than I was but I’m okay with that – at least I enjoy it all again!

Part 3 This is the bit that sounds like a Bowie song (because of all the ch-ch-ch-chaaangeeeees!)

Queen Eizabeth parkrun’s annual Summer Barbecue. I blame this place and tie as the catalyst for where everything about my running story changes. For years, since starting parkrun and catching the bug for it I’d wanted to be a Run Director (One of the people who is in charge of the run for a week and makes sure it all goes smoothly) at Havant parkrun. In my “Year of running dangerously” (or running more and enjoying it if you prefer) I’d ingratiated myself into the volunteer team at Havant parkrun. I hung around to help pack stuff away, I volunteered more and I enjoyed it. I became a bit of a regular fixture and got to know people really well. I wanted to Run Direct because I wanted to give back to the place and the thing that had kept me going through a year of hating work, through three years of learning to love running. It felt right and I was always on the lookout to see if a spot on the RD team ever opened up (it didn’t).

My enthusiasm must have been noticed by Dave, the Event Director (man who is “in charge” as it were of all the RDs and deals with parkrun HQ) who also happened to be the parkrun Ambassador for the area (person who helps new parkruns start). Dave mentioned that there was finally scope to get a new parkrun in the North of Portsmouth since the Southsea parkrun was doing so well. The funding was in place as long as a willing, enthusiastic and passionate team could be found to organise it.

Dave asked if I’d be interested in taking the reigns and becoming the Event Director for this new run.

I said yes.

Things kind of floated by for a few weeks until One Fateful Day at the QE Summer Barbecue when I asked the first two people to join my core team as Run Directors. From there we went through a bit more recruiting and a lot of course design, redesign, measuring, remeasuring, finding funding, finding people to run with us, finding volunteers to help organise us and around 8 months later we finally held our inaugural parkrun.

Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun has just had it’s 7th event and we’re still going strong. The 4 of us on the RD team have settled in nicely and it’s got a great atmosphere – largely down to the fact that all the volunteers we get helping are such amazingly positive people, and we’re lucky to have so many of them stick around with us as our Core Volunteers who we can always rely on to help us keep the parkrun going. I love being the Event Director and overseeing everything, working with my team to make the run happen and some of the stories you hear from people are so heartwarming and positive, it really makes you remember why you do it.

I love parkrun. It made me a runner. It made me a volunteer. It made me a better, more rounded and friendly person.

It also made me run in the week more and realise that if I can stop being lazy for an hour, I do still love running!

I’ll be back with Volume 3 one day, I’m sure…



Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a rut and have found myself at a loose end. It all started around February 2015 when I noticed that I wasn’t really happy. I had put on a lot of weight (over a stone since I started teaching), I wasn’t doing much that I enjoyed and as a result found myself just being incredibly lazy. A lot of this I out down to work. I wasn’t happy working in the city – the hours were long, the job was hard and I felt trapped, being a country boy at heart. As a result my teaching suffered and I was forced to work twice as hard as ever just to keep myself from going under (seriously, you have no idea how awful it is to arrive at school at 5:30 in the morning and not leave until 19:00 at night). I started to hate everything and withdraw from a lot during this  point in my life. So I decided to start doing something about it.

The job seemed to me to be the root of the problems and so I looked elsewhere for employment. I found a lovely school in a little suburban village and applied. I prepped hard for the interview and luckily (or should that be thankfully) I got the job. The hours are just as long (not 5:30 am long though!) and the teaching is just as hard but I enjoy it. My department is so supportive and I love working around people that inspire me so much. Everything else would just fall into place now that this was sorted, and it did. Kind of. But not really.

Even though I enjoyed my job now I was still finding myself piling on the pounds with another stone going on between September and Christmas. In February I topped out at 13st 13lbs – the heaviest I’d ever been. My waistline had expanded a bit and I couldn’t blame work and lack of effort anymore. I was training in Tae Kwon-Do again, I’d joined a Gym and was running a bit more. Something was still wrong though since I just kept gaining weight. Turns out, I’m an avid snacker. I’m the sort of person who snacks when they work. Marking books? Snack time to get you through it. Bored? Make a snack, it’s something to do. Stressed? Have a snack and you’ll better. Well, I decided to change that yet again.

Around February, I started to actively try to lose weight and eat better. It went well for a while but I relapsed and started again with new determination at Easter. Since February I have gone from 13st 13lbs to 13st 5.8lbs (as of time of writing). That’s a good enough place to start, but I’m still not there yet. It’s not just losing weight either. I’ve been inspired…

Recently, I’ve got back into watching some old youtube channels that I used to watch and one of them in particular stood out. This man had overhauled his channel from the kooky, quirky comedy that I’d loved throughout university to a new daily vlog style of channel where he just talks about his life and what he’s doing to improve it. (Can you see that I’ve not so much been inspired by him as shamelessly copied him). This man was Craig Benzine, or WheezyWaiter as he’s known on youtube. I saw one of his videos titled Improving My Life and thought it was a gret idea. In this video he gets himself a whiteboard and writes a list of things he’s going to do to improve his life. This was called the “Tasks for the Maintenence and Betterment of Living”. As a result, I decided to create my own shameless rip off of wheezywaiter inspired goals. A few of these are the same as those Craig sets out in his video, purely because I liked them so much and thought I should do my own version!


Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living

  • De-clutter physical stuff – I have too much stuff, a fact that my entire family will attest to and I’ve finally decided to get rid of some of it.
  • Lose Weight – This is one of the things I’ve been focusing on for a while as I’ve said it’s going well. I’m not on some weird diet or crazy exercise plan. I’m just trying to move more and eat less than i burn. To do this, I’m relying on my trusted fitbit, which is now a year old. I’ve gone back to (roughly) tracking the number of calories I eat to make sure that I’m not tempted to snack, and trying to hit my 10,000 step goal, as well as trying to do some form of exercise, however small it is, for 5 out of 7 days.
  • Cycle more – In 2014 I bought a bike to get to work, since it was only a 10 minute ride from my flat. I think I cycled less than 5 times in the year. I hsaven’t used my bike nearly enough and rely on my car to get to places. I enjoy cycling and so I’m using my bike more, and will track it monthly to see how many times i use it! (I’ve used it today to cycle to my favourite coffee shop to write this!)
  • Read more – I love reading and yet i never do enough of it. So I’m going to read more and to do that I’m going to start by…
  • Watch less TV – Why do i need to watch the same episode of Scrubs for the 20th time? (I mean don’t get me wrong I love Scrubs but it’s a complete waste of my time!) I’m trying to keep it down to only one episode of something a day online or something interesting if it’s on the TV and I’m watching live!
  • Run more – The final task on my list is to run more. I love running and yet I stopped running as much as I used to. This will also help me achieve the second goal on the list! I’m trying to run as much as possible each week and will measure it from Saturday to Saturday (or parkrunday to parkrunday, if you know what I mean!)

So there you have it. Some tasks to hopefully make me feel better  and more energised. So far? It’s going pretty well. I think. I hope. We’ll see! I’ll keep you updated! (That’s the next thing to go on my list – Write more!)



The TftMaBoL Whiteboard that I’ve put on my bedroom door so I have to see it everyday! 


Stop Doing That… Driving!

You may have noticed (some of you rather happily I will bet) that I haven’t written one of my little “self help” posts in a while. This is because I have, shock horror, not been overwhelmed With the burning rage and righteous anger that I feel about a topic to be able to tell people to stop doing it for a good long while. Well that brief time of bliss has rocketed off along the motorway of life and left me stranded in the lay-by of hatred. You may have guessed by the overuse of car related metaphors (or the title of this post, which is more likely) that today we will be looking at what you can not do whilst driving to prevent yourself from becoming number one on my Most Hated list.


STOP: Undertaking
Was it really SO important for you to get past me that you had to resort to being the biggest tool on the planet and swerve across a few lanes on this motorway to go past me in the left hand lane? Really? I’m going at the limit in the centre lane, the guy in the right hand lane is going a shade faster, so we’re all travelling at a legal limit and then in you zoom, Captain Douchebag, and swerve round all of us to continue on to whichever shopping centre you’re going to go buy a new polyester track suit from today. Prick.

STOP: Driving in the bike lane
The clue to this one is in the name. BIKE LANE. Not “Cruise along with half your car in here so cyclists fear for their life Lane”. You have a whole road and the cyclist only have this tiny piece on the left of it all. Stop harassing them and play nice.

STOP: Whistling from windows
I’ll level with you it is usually the stereotypic “Lads” that are the culprits here but nonetheless it makes my list. Guys, come on. That girl you’re whistling at and catcalling is pretty much NEVER going to sleep with you. Least of all if you have to shout out of a car to get her attention! Any girl that would hear someone wolf whistle from a car and think to herself “that man is going to be my one true love! I must sleep with him!” really needs to sort her priorities out…

STOP: Being slow
I’m not a preacher of speed, reckless or otherwise, but there is absolutely no reason to be going at 20 in a 40 zone.

STOP: Using phones
If you use your phone whilst driving, to me you are exactly the same level of despicable bastard irritating as you would be if you had drop kicked a baby into a yard filled with pitbulls and bear traps. You are the devil incarnate. If it is THAT important then pull over and use your phone. If not, wait until you get to where you are going and THEN use your phone. Don’t even get me started on texting. Just don’t do it whilst driving. I can barely walk and text at the same time without walking in to a pole or person, I can only imagine driving would make this twice as hard!

It’s not hard to not use a phone in the car. Alright?


Stop Doing That… At the Gym, Part 2!

Once upon a time, way back in the recesses of my secondary school lifestyle, I carried a bit of puppy fat. As I was at the age where kids are merciless in their scorn and fury, I often got called unsavoury names and had a few jibes thrown at me. It wasn’t the nicest of times, but being such a stalwart individual I just let them bounce off me and carried on living the life that I wanted, not caring what they said.

Now imagine my surprise when, eight long years later I see one of those guys that had at one point called me out for being a bit squishy round the middle. In the gym. Looking pretty out shape. Oh how the tides have turned. The gym is the gift that keeps on giving! However, I was nice and courteous, had a brief word and continued with my workout without giving him another thought.

The rest of the idiots in there were another matter entirely. Yet more people still seem to be doing some really irritating things at the gym, and I’m here to help you make sure that you don’t do them yourself! After all, if I’ve learnt anything from my encounters this week, it’s that karma can be a real “Bee with an itch!” (this blog IS family friendly!)


STOP: Singing
I know that the songs they play over and over again in the gym can be very catchy and doubtless whatever is on your iPod is amazing and makes you feel like you can join in at any moment. Just don’t burst out into spontaneous song whilst we’re lifting weights or having a jog on the treadmill. Life isn’t an episode of Glee, try to contain yourself, please!

STOP: Poorly spotting
If you lift free weights it’s good practice to make sure you have a gym buds that will spot you and make sure that you don’t injure yourself if you drop the weight bar or just cannot lift it during your bench press sets. This keeps everyone safe and happy and the world can carry on. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some terrible spotters. These assassins gym buddies have been looking around, checking out the cute girl on the cross trainer whilst their so called pal is struggling to keep the bar away from his throat. Use a bit of sense and pay attention guys!

STOP: Hogging equipment
If the gym is busy just remember that you’re not the only one that wants to use the machines and weights. So don’t be a useless drain on society selfish and do your set and move on. You can always come back to the machine after letting a few people get a quick set or two in!

STOP: Carrying a bottle of powder around
This one is a major bugbear of mine. I mean seriously, if you want to see me get riled up then come into the gym carrying your regular water bottle and one of those stupid ‘shake’ bottles filled with about half an inch of powder. I understand that you think protein shakes will help you build unhealthy, comical big muscles and it’s entirely your choice if you want to jack up on synthesised protein. Go ahead. Just don’t bring it to the gym and wave the bottle around, just so that everyone can see that you’re a big boy and you drink protein shakes. Unless you plan on drinking it during your session, it can be left in your bag and you can stop embarrassing yourself.

STOP: Spitting in the water fountain
I don’t think I need to say anything further, you disgusting creature…

STOP: Talking on the phone
For many people, the gym is place of quiet reflection and serious focus. If you start blathering loudly on your mobile, you’ve broken the peace and will receive the cold, judgemental, death harbouring looks of the rest of the gym users. If the call you relieve is THAT important, then go outside into the hallway and take it. If you’re on the gym floor, talking on your phone is both annoying and distracting. Not to mention, you stand a chance of injuring yourself as you’re not paying attention!!

Whew, that was a fair bit!

Posts for the next few as may be a bit scant as I’m not sure what time I’ll have, but hopefully I’ll get something up!

Stop Doing That… At the Supermarket!


If you happen to be anything like me, and I sincerely hope that you aren’t, then you will probably hate the supermarket as much as I do. This isn’t a dig at Mr Tesco or Mr Asda, it’s nothing that you guys are doing wrong that is making me rue the fact that it is food shop day. No, it’s the other people in there that make me want to throw down my bags for life in the middle of the cooked meats section and leave. So here’s the next little vent of my spleen and the associated handy hints for you to try and make food shopping more bearable.

STOP: Grazing
Have you ever seen those people that will pick up a bag of the loose grapes (or any loose food that has to be weighed for that matter) and start stuffing them down their throats as they walk around the store? I hate those people. In my view, that’s essentially stealing from the supermarket. The price of that bag of grapes is determined by the weight of the bag when the cashier puts it on their scales at the end of your trip. By you eating those grapes on your way round, you’ve decreased the weight of the bag but have still eaten the same amount of grapes… If you MUST eat something on your way round, then choose something with a barcode and pay for the wrapper at the end. Freeloader.

STOP: Stopping without warning
I don’t know why people suddenly need to come to a complete halt in the centre of the aisle, but they do. Without any warning at all, they just suddenly stop, leaving anyone walking behind them to plot into the back of them and receive a dirty look for doing so, even though it was their fault for stopping in the first place.

STOP: Till jumping
This is just something that really riles me. If I’m at the till and I’m putting my shopping on the conveyor belt and you happen to join the queue behind me then under no condition should you start putting your shopping up when I still have a whole trolley load to put up! If it’s just a few things left and I know how much space I’ll need for them, then by all means. But if I’ve got a ton of stuff left and you start loading up your low fat bran flakes or whatever crap you’ve bought then don’t be surprised when you get my ‘death stare’ or a mouthful of my trademark acerbic wit and hateful sarcasm…

STOP: Being rude to staff
They’re just trying to do their job and they don’t need you throwing a tantrum and being awkward to make everything harder. By all means, if you have a valid reason then feel free to complain, but don’t do it just do be awkward. You look like a massive douchewaffle if you do that.

STOP: Aisle Trolleys
We come to it at last, my biggest pet hate of the well stocked pantry of commerce. If you leave your trolley in the middle of an aisle and wander off then you deserve to be dipped in molasses and thrown into a colony of those massive stinging fire ants are the bane of my weekly shop. If there is a trolley in my way and no-one around to tend to it, I will happily shove it out of the way and carry on with my life. If you then come back and catch me mid-shove, don’t give me that withering stare, you have no moral ground here. If you do EVER commit this most heinous of crimes and I can see you wander off then I can easily turn into Liam Neeson’s character in Taken


There you have it, try to stop doing all of these things for me. Please. Just try to be a better person. Hopefully then I won’t get banned from Tesco for starting a mass murder in the canned goods aisle…

Stop Doing That… Ordering Fast Food!

I know that I have already mentioned some of the customers that I have encountered during my time working a part time job in the Fast Food industry, but today I thought that I would do something about it! Personally, I am sick and tired of having to deal with the same questions and irritations every time that I run into one of these customers, so for the sake of my mental health, and the health of any of my fellow Fast Food Workers, here is the next installment of “Stop Doing That…”  Hopefully this will prevent my face exploding when I have to serve that 2%

STOP: Taking ages to decide
Okay, that might be a little harshly worded. I don’t mind you taking your time to decide what to order when you’re not in the queue, by all means take as long as you want to make your mind up. However, PLEASE stop waiting in the queue with no intention of using this time to choose what you want and then staring at the menu boards for 5 minutes after you get to the front counter. All that achieves is a massive hold up and me standing around doing nothing for a few minutes.

STOP: Talking on your phone
Talking on your phone whilst ordering your food is just rude, end of story. Also, don’t look at me like I’ve interrupted the most important call of your life when I ask you what drink you’d like – I’m just doing my job. How would you like it if I whipped out my phone and started yammering away like a frenzied cricket whilst you were trying to order? Doesn’t sound good, does it…

This is all we hear when you chatter away whilst ordering…

STOP: Getting angry
Occassionally, we mess up an order – we’re only human! If this happens, please calmly inform us that we’ve missed something out or done something wrong and we will be more than happy to fix the problem. Raging and shouting at us will make us less likely to want to help you. Plus, you’ll look like a complete prick collossal douche-walrus in front of all the other customers.

STOP: Asking for freebies
We’re not going to give them – our bosses get mad. Our job is more important to us than “chucking in an extra couple of bits on the house”, alright?

STOP: Taking more than you need
In regards to the complimentary condiments and tissues etc. Please only take what you need and don’t wander off with 50 wetnaps for your meal for one. Not only does it rack up the costs of the company, it can damage the environment by throwing out a large chunk of unused stuff that you picked up “because they’re free”. Save the planet people!

That’s all for today, if you have any more to add then feel free to comment and I might put them into the next post!

Also, leave suggestions for the next “Stop Doing That…” topic!

Don’t Stop Believing – Indomitable Spirit Required

If you’re here because you saw the title and expected a Journey/Glee themed post about the song then I’m afraid you jumped off the Midnight Train a few stops too early! I won’t take it personally if you leave, but feel free to stick around. (There may even be a song at the end of this!)

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. – Mahatma Ghandi

As you might have guessed from that quote, this is the standard ‘Inspirational Blog Post’. Let’s try to do it justice…

A few years ago I took part in a 5km “Fun Run” (It’s in parenthesis because it wasn’t that fun at the time) to support the British Heart Foundation. Seeing as this jog was at the very end of November, it was a Santa Jog, where all participants were issued a Santa Claus costume as part of their entry fee. They were then required to complete the run whilst dressed as Santa hat, beard and everything.

Upon finishing the Santa Jog I got this medal – and decided to stop running…

The Santa Jog came at a time when I didn’t really run. I had done a few brief training runs, though nothing up to the 5km mark, I lacked the willpower to stick it out as, at the time, I found running incredibly boring. I was cocky and overconfident, thinking that I would breeze right through this in no time flat, seeing as I was pretty fit and in quite good shape as a result of my Tae Kwon-Do. During the run, I started to feel differently and began to struggle. The explosive fitness that I had developed through my Tae Kwon-Do practice was an entirely different kettle of fish to that needed for the more endurance related task of running. I was struggling and wanted to finish, but I was so tired and just wanted to walk the rest of the way, my body hurting from the unfamiliar prolonged exertion. There was only one problem with that idea…

I couldn’t let myself do it. to know that there were so many other people running with me and not giving up made me think “Am I really this weak? I’m just going to let myself give up because I’m finding this tough?” The response? “HECK NO!! We’re finishing this!” I hadn’t banked on my Indomitable Spirit shining through, stopping me from giving in, forcing me to keep going. The idea behind Indomitable Spirit is that everyone has the character to shine through adversity and challenges, that they won’t give in to anything and will give a hundred percent until they just cannot give any more. Indomitable Spirit is one of the five tenets of Tae Kwon-Do and it is the tenet that I identify most with. The idea of never giving in and never letting anything overwhelm you is an idea that I can definitely get behind. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly and not giving up halfway because it’s too difficult. Unfortunately, at the time of the Santa Jog I wasn’t ready to keep pushing with running, even though my Indomitable Spirit had got me through the rest of the run and I gave up running for a few years.

Earlier this summer I started running again, inspired by my friends and the new Parkrun initiative. I grabbed some running gear and headed out to the start of the course bright and early on a Saturday morning and proceeded to complete the 5km course. I’ve kept this up every week since so far and even though I still find running dull and occasionally find it hard to keep going on the runs due to a twingey (is that a word?) thigh muscle, I’ve always pushed myself through and made it to the end – usually with a smile on my face. All of this is down to the idea of Indomitable Spirit and never giving up, no matter what the odds.


So, tell me: What situations have you been in where you’ve needed to call upon your Indomitable Spirit to succeed?

Share your answers in comments and, as mentioned at the start, here’s a rendition of the Song “Don’t Stop Believing” originally by Journey. This version makes it onto my running playlist due to the up-tempo beat and the fact that it serves as an audible reminder to do exactly what the song says – Don’t. Stop. Believing.