Thursday, 3 December 2015

Message of hope

An encouraging message for Masters

Let’s start by saying that I was certainly no athlete at school. My PE report was along the lines of “weak – could try harder”! Roll on forty odd years later and here I am doing lung bursting runs and loving it! So what happened?

I had dabbled with cycle racing on and off over those intervening years starting with the Snowdonia CC in 1977 whilst at Bangor University before moving down to London. I used to do fairly average time trials but never quite broke the hour for 25 miles. I had reached my mid-forties, my interest in cycling had waned somewhat and my midriff was beginning to balloon. I had a stressful job, my health had deteriorated and I suffered bronchial pneumonia in 2000. I’d never felt so ill before and I guess I had that sudden realisation that I need to do something drastic to arrest this decline. It was then that I joined a gym and the competitive spirit in me began to surface. Along with a friend we entered the British Indoor Rowing championships and although we didn’t do anything spectacular at least it was a start.

I joined the Maidenhead & District CC and began cycling again. Naturally my fitness improved and I then took up triathlon. Now this is when I realised that my running needed some work. My 10k time was around 54 minutes and this would inevitably let me down in triathlon races. Now I know this is something that is generally undertaken when you’re young but I’m of the view that you’re never too old to learn so I got myself a coach. Mike Trees was and still is a great runner and he was to be my mentor. During those cold winter nights at the track in Maidenhead he would train a group of us and would help me with my technique. I entered more and more running events and my 10k times began to improve. Injuries, it seems, are part and parcel of running and I’ve had my fair share over the years. Each time I got injured I wasn’t able to train, sometimes for months, and all that hard work getting fit was going to waste. Sound familiar? This didn’t make sense to me. It was a frustrating cycle of events, training, racing, injury, rehab. Year after year it was the same old sorry tale until this year.

In 2015 I decided to have regular sports physio whether I felt I needed it or not. After all what did I have to lose except for the cost of treatment but I managed to get a good deal on that so felt it was worth it. I also got myself a smartphone and the Strava app so could see my pace throughout training and racing and gradually worked towards achieving negative splits. This meant doing the second half of both training and racing faster than the first half. Wow, what a difference that made. Not only did my times improve dramatically I also enjoyed the races more by finishing strongly. The Parkrun at Penrhyn has also helped with race tuning so thanks to those that set that event going.

Looking back, 2015 has seen me PB at every distance I’ve competed in from 400m to half marathon including beating my long held targets of sub 40 for 10k and sub 1h30 for the half marathon. You will have gathered that I’m no spring chicken at 57 so what next for this veteran who believes he hasn’t yet reached his peak? Next year I’m looking to improve at the shorter distances. I’d love to get under 5 mins for the 1500m and sub 2m30 for the 800. Watch this space!

Steve Taylor

Menai Track & Field

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