‘I Run Because’ is a series of inspiring stories from other runners. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do sharing.

If you would like to share your story please write no more than 500 words entitled ‘I Run Because’ and send it across to petethompsononline@gmail.com with a couple of photos. Thank you

New stories published every Wednesday.

7th August 2019

I Run Because……… By Rob Cowlin

“I used to absolutely HATE the very idea of running. “What’s the point in running around aimlessly – can’t I just play football, tennis or a real sport?”. This was my regular line when my older brother would try and tease my 28 stone, morbidly obese, cider drinking frame out for even a gentle jog. My headstrong young self didn’t see the point – deep down I was afraid. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t dislike myself, but I hated what I’d morphed into while working a job I hated and taking zero interest in my health.

When one New Year’s day came around and I rolled my huge body out of bed and decided that I’d have to accept the lesser evil of doing something I disliked, rather than abusing my body until I – quite literally – killed off any chance of a happy life. In cliché style I got a basic gym membership and walked, waddled and trundled on the treadmill for 5k every day I could. It hurt a lot, but in trademark stubborn style I stuck with it and when I finished… every time I finished… something about it felt good.

Within 5 years I’d managed to shed 10 stones – over 35% of my body weight. All I did was run and keep on running. 5k on the treadmill became 5k on the trails and hills, which turned into half marathons and then marathons. In 2016 I completed one of the toughest 100 mile races in the UK (the North Downs Way 100) on the hottest day of the year. I’d taken on this challenge a year after losing my dad in his brave battle with cancer, taking with me the determination and hard-working man and the bravery and defiance he showed to keep fighting.

But life was changed by the grief of such incredible loss. I began to drink, I began to eat and I stopped caring about my running, my health and myself all over again. Looking back on the past couple of years and overcoming hurdles that I am still jumping, it was as if I failed to spot the obvious… that running is my meditation and my safe place. Beyond medication or counselling, it is the ultimate drug for me. The simple pleasure of lacing up and stepping out onto a new trail towards a goal brings me as close to happiness as anything in the World.

I have the luxury to still be here and I have running to thank. It gave me the resilience to fight back against my own darkness, doubts and self-loathing. I came back to run 100 miles all over again, completed ultra marathons I had never expected to complete and took me to the finish line of 10 marathons in 10 consecutive days. It gave me the belief that I could and now I love nothing more than sharing that belief and joy with others.

If I have learned one thing on my journey so far, it’s that even before you think about giving in to doubt, you owe it to yourself to put on your trainers, go outside and give it your everything… because inside every one of us lies a force so powerful that we must never be afraid. 

Running gave me a direction when I lost myself, and I know that wherever I end up… as long as I keep on going… I will find myself in a better place than where I started… 

And so will you”

A huge thank you to Rob for sharing his truly inspiring story and showing that amongst other things you don’t have to be a certain size or shape to be a runner. If you want to hear more from Rob he now co-hosts a brilliant new running podcast called “Band of Runners” if you want to have a listen on the link.

31st July 2019

I Run Because..... By Peter Thompson

”My first real experience of running came in the year 2 school relay where I over excitedly managed to hit myself in the eye with a metal relay baton. After the black eye healed and the tears dried, the next was no better as I struggled round numerous school cross country’s.

I wasn’t a ‘good’ runner but what I had learnt throughout my childhood was that I was incredibly stubborn. I never gave up. This wasn’t down some innate desire to be the best I had just learnt that by not giving up I could be better than others who did.

In my early 20’s I entered my first half marathon, then fulfilled an ambition of completing the London marathon. I did all (well most) of this with a smile. A sense that I was on a new journey. I had found an outlet for that stubborn competitive nature and I no longer had to risk injury by carrying a relay baton.

This quickly snowballed as I continued to place more and more focus on running. I got quicker but looking back I also lost a little bit of why I stared. Why I loved running in the first place. With every 100 mile week or missed celebration to stop my watch, it was becoming more about times and less about experience. I ran the same routes, I over analysed my performance and despite running a 2:25 Marathon in 2015 I simply stopped enjoying it.

Running had become too much. A break up in a relationship followed and I blamed running for what it had taken away. I found myself in the difficult situation where I felt completely lost and the thing that used to make me happy and fulfilled was now doing the opposite. I really struggled for a while before deciding I wanted running back in my life. I wanted it back the right way.

I have since taken on two running challenges, one involving running 44 Marathons in 44 Countries in 44 Consecutive days and the other running the 2018 Tour de France in 68 days. These have raised nearly £50,000 for mental health charities and given me a new perspective of running.

I now want to share that with others and use my knowledge and experience to support others to run a different way. A way that is less about GPS watches, complicated kit or feelings of inadequacy. Instead a simpler way that showcases everything good with running, the community, friendships, experiences, improved physical & mental health, the list goes on.

From September I will be to offering personalised online coaching packages, Sports Massage and continuing to do talks about how my experiences can benefit others. As for the next challenge we’re just have to wait and see……”