Hello there. I'm Jack, I'm 25 and I live in London. I have a love/hate relationship with running and I'm currently training for the Virgin London Marathon 2014, raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
I've been blogging over at Jog on Jack for a few months now, and to try to inspire others to get out running - I've decided to share my journey towards conquering 26.2 miles (the 0.2 counts big after 26). In a strange, sadistic way, I'm almost looking forward to it...
Now, I cannot emphasise enough just how far removed I am from those annoying people who are seemingly born with a 6-pack and effortlessly cruise through runs without breaking a sweat. It's all about hard graft for me. Like many 'growing lads', I was a victim of chronic puppy fat/grow baggage at school and running was the last thing I wanted to do. I saw it as another way in which those cruel, cruel teachers could inflict more pain and misery on us. I'm haunted by those awful Monday morning cross county laps in the freezing cold. Throw a ball in front of me and I would run after it all day long (or until mum called me in for tea) but running for the sake of running? Absolutely not.
A few years later, my only regular exercise was my weekly attempts to play football. As my former teammates will testify, my fitness was shocking at best. I only got into 'proper running' relatively recently. It all started when I started volunteering with Macmillan Cancer Support in Sheffield. I had the honour and privilege of meeting, and working with, some of the most inspirational people I've ever met. It was a brilliant experience, but it also made me feel like I could be doing so much more. The real kick up the backside I needed was meeting Sheffield's own 'Mad Man with a Pram', John Burkhill. This local hero pushes a pram (for donations) around the streets of Sheffield, no matter what the weather (I've seen him out there in the snow - in shorts!), wearing his trademark green wig and waving his giant foam hand collecting money for Macmillan. This one man fundraising phenomenon has dedicated his life to fundraising after losing his wife to cancer. During 2012 alone, John raised over £35,000 and his current total is now well over £200,000, edging ever closer to his £250,000 target. Over the last 20 years, John has competed in 882 races including the London marathon 19 times! Not bad for a 74 year old eh?
In absolute awe of these unbelievable achievements and this great man, it all hit me. If he can do all these things why can't I? I had no excuses, apart from the fact I didn't have a clue what I was doing - but when has that ever stopped anyone! That was it for me, I had an 'I'm going to do something with my life' moment and signed up for Sheffield Half Marathon 2012 as soon as I got home. I instantly regretted it the next day of course, but that's beside the point.
Without really knowing what I was doing, I dragged my body round the streets of Sheffield (full story here) and I've been hooked ever since. I joined a running club (c'mon Fulham!), completed 4 half marathons (from Lisbon to Wimbledon Common), a handful of 10ks and the Berlin Marathon 2013. All of which I wouldn't have dreamed possible a few years before.
Most of my friends and family think because I work for a charity, we have to do events like this. Trust me, it's not in the contract! Even some people at Macmillan think I've lost the plot. I do things like this because I want to. Like most people reading this, I've lost a loved one to cancer. Mine was my Nan, 'The Guvnor' as my granddad called her. I buried my head in the sand about her cancer for years, but working and fundraising for Macmillan through running has helped me come to terms with it. Even better than that, I've been able to turn that experience into a positive, helping people other people affected by cancer by fundraising.
I'm really looking forward to blogging here and hope to hear from my fellow hopeless running addicts.
So what about you? Why do you run? What got you started? I can always do with some inspiration.
Tweet me @jackwilson89 or comment below.