Confessions of an ordinary runner: 9 things they don't tell you

Post date: 
Friday, 10 June 2016

In response to our recent article on guide running, Connect member Kevin Beesting thinks we missed a few tips out. Here's his unique take on the joy of running.

Quite recently I decided, 25 years on, to dust off my old trainers and resurrect my running regime. Only thing is - I am now blind so have to do things a little bit differently. No problem, where there's a will there's a way.
Just over a year ago I acquired something that gave me a new lease of life. Not a Lamborghini or an ocean-going yacht, something far better. A brand spanking new guide dog called Spencer. I used to run all those years ago, so I thought it was a great idea to start again, and in the process give something back to The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. So, on 10 July 2016, the day after my 65th birthday, I will be running the Asda Foundation Leeds 10k with Guide Runner Adam Beesting and riding shotgun, Matthew Beesting.
Being an ordinary fun runner from, what seems like way back when, I thought I might give you some useful tips I picked up on the way. 
Here goes:
  1. My first tip is, wear suitable running shoes. My very first race , in 1981, was The Humber Bridge Marathon and I trusted my trainers that I had been wearing casually for several years, so I knew they were comfy, Dunlop Green Flash tennis shoes. Not a good choice, they did get me round but it was a long time after before my knees worked properly again.
  2. The terry-towel T-shirt wasn't a good idea either - see point 5. 
  3. Train sufficiently for a race. We know a marathon is 26.2 mile long, so don't build up to six miles and expect to run a Marathon. I did, the same race as above. Maybe that was a contributory factor to the "knees" as well as the Green Flash pumps?
  4. I've always preached, "make sure your shoe laces don't come undone while running a race". What happened to me recently in my very first ever Park Run at Bramley? Yes, I had to stop half way to retie them, this time in a double knot.
  5. Chafing! Usually affects two areas, by the way I can only speak for the male species. Between the legs and the nipples. There's probably special body armour these days to prevent this but I still use Vaseline or petroleum jelly, for tops of the legs. I used to use on the nips but was told that all my vests and t-shirts had incriminating marks even after washing. I now protect them with a strip of micro-porous tape, however if like me you have a hairy chest you will have to put up with an instant of sharp pain when removing.
  6. We all like to look good even if we're not feeling good when running hard. Always wear any new kit and wash at least a couple of times before. I once bought a cool designer vest and saved it for a marathon I was doing. During the race the three stripes down each side soon felt rough and started rubbing with each pump of the arms. Not only did my arms get sorer and sorer but it was so annoying and distracting for the most part of 26.2 mile. Needless to say I didn't get a PB that day.
  7. The best advice I can give is, pace yourself. In training my body became adept at this but in races it was a different matter altogether. I don't know why, whether it was the thrill of the day, feeling good after the preparation or maybe it was the adrenaline but I always went too fast at the start of a Marathon, and still feeling good at half way kept it up. I did 6 or 7 full marathons in the 1980's when I had reasonable sight and always adopted the same strategy and always "hit the wall" between 18 and 22 miles, finishing very slowly. On the bright side, it worked well in shorter races and got me some good, half-marathon,10 mile and 10k times. It still hurt but nothing like the feeling your body and mind gets when "hitting the wall".
  8. Importantly, in running and in life, at whatever level you want to be,"You Only Get Out What You Put In".
I hope you enjoyed reading this and would love you to take a few minutes to go to my Just Giving page and support the marvellous work that The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association do. Somehow, I know it's going to hurt running a race at 65 but when I think of what I have got out of this cause, it will be so worth it.
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