Ben Richards on becoming a long distance runner

I always thought that when I added ‘Do a Fun Run’ to my bucket list some time ago, it would be one of those things I would never actually do. Now I can tick that box thanks to my colleagues at TAEFL.

When I joined the company in March 2016, one of the first things that my new colleagues got me to do was sign up for the Great Midlands Fun Run in Sutton Coldfield, taking place the following June. Most people at TAEFL were taking part to raise money for Breast Cancer Care. As it was taking place in my home town and it was for a great cause, I signed up.

I joined a gym so that I could start training and did regular 5km runs on the treadmill. I also did a few runs around the block where I live.

On the day of the fun run, nothing prepared me for how tiring it was going to be. My legs were aching a lot of the time but the support from the crowds cheering us on kept me going, and I completed the run in 1 hour 35 minutes.

That same day, Mark asked if I was up for the Great Birmingham Half-Marathon in October. I agreed, albeit hesitantly, but it was still going to be for a great cause and a good excuse for me to carry on keeping fit, going to the gym, get more involved in running and raise more money for charity.

A couple of months before the Half-Marathon, I joined Parkrun, who organise weekly 5km runs on Saturday Mornings at Kingsbury Water Park in Warwickshire; just a 20-minute drive from where I live. I needed to get used to outdoor running so this was a good opportunity to do it. It was free to join and you get timed by the volunteers.

Beating personal bests

The first time I ran, I completed it in just under 33 minutes, which was okay but I wanted to improve. Each time after that, I was beating my Personal Best, with better times than I would on a treadmill. I can now do a 5km run in 28 minutes, and I intend to keep improving on that.

On the day of the half-marathon, I was wondering if I had done enough preparation for such a long run, but I had to remember to stick within my limits, not overdo it and just have fun. I should have had no expectations as this is the first time I’ve done it.

It was a hard slog. My legs were aching and I had a pain in my left ankle halfway through the course which slowed me down a bit, but I was determined to complete it for the charity and I did it in 2 hours 33 minutes. If it hadn’t been for my ankle, I’m sure I could have achieved a faster time.

I’m proud of myself for doing it and now I want to do more. I’m planning on signing up for at least 4 runs in 2017, so that means more gym trips, more Parkruns and hopefully more medals/goody bags!

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