Real running stories straight from our community. Barry shares with us his running journey.

How did running find a place in life?

That’s a question I ask myself often. I am not a good runner and I am not a real runner. Well, I wasn’t a runner, I guess I am now! I seem to do it a lot.

A necessary evil

It’s not been a relationship I can say I have always enjoyed. It was a necessary evil. I really did refer to it as that. At school, I was into playing football, tennis, and badminton. My school PE teachers always wanted me to run cross country for my house team and the school. I would run for my house team but I couldn’t be bothered to do it for the school (I used to run it in my football boots). I wasn’t that quick, just consistent. It wasn’t something I really enjoyed. It was more about doing it as quick as I could to get it over and done with!

Stepping away from sport

I was very much a ball sports type of kid. That changed as I left school into a ‘no type of sport at all’ kinda guy. When I was 21, I was diagnosed with a rare and chronic illness called Behcet’s. This meant just trying to be well and functioning was important and sport was something on the TV. Fast forward to the age of 34 and a career change, lead me to meet my best friend and the start of a voyage into sport.

I re-entered the world of football and got a little fit. Jim (my best friend) asked if I fancied doing a triathlon. I agreed straight away. Then 10 minutes later asked what it was!!!! OMG! I was shocked to hear what I was going to do. Swim, cycling and running in one day and one after another. I was out of my depth. I decided that if I was going to do it I needed to be fit.

Time for Triathlon

So, I started a love affair with triathlon that lasted up until four years ago. Taking me from swimming pool-based sprints to the world’s hardest half Ironman of 70.3 as it’s known. That’s where running fitted in, the necessary evil as you have to run at the end. I was a good swimmer and I liked a bike ride. I could actually swim really well at the point of doing the 70.3 and did myself proud in the lake. Running was still the part I didn’t enjoy though.

I have run all distances now except anything ultra. I’ve learned that to make sure I stay well and control my Behcets, I have to listen to my body and understand where my limits are, not to mention knowing when I need to not run and just rest. I have been well and stable on medication now for about four years and really know my body.

Pushing the limits

Last year, I ran the London Marathon virtually around my garden and driveway (thanks Covid!). This was a 0.2-mile course – I will leave you to do the maths on the number of laps!  Thinking about it still gives me cold sweats. I will be on the start line in lime neon this year. From what I have been told I am the first person with Behcet’s to run a marathon.

I have been pretty injury-prone over the years of running. Destroyed my right knee cartilage which needed to be fixed. I have (unknown to me) broken my ankle and foot. This was found on the last x-ray which was taken after I went over on the ankle whilst running. I’ve had many muscle tears and strains. I can’t even think about how much I have spent on kit and sports drinks/gels!

Pictures of  Barry's real running stories
Left: First Seasoned Runner Medal. Middle & Right: Running that London Marathon and Medal.

Lessons learnt

If there’s one thing I have learned from all that spending, it is that comfort is king and so is having the right footwear and finding a great running community is also a big motivator. This community (SRSR) has been fun!  I love the banter and moral support. Watching people grow into runners and others begin to perfect their style and distances. I enjoy the feeling of being a part of something. Seasoned Runner has given me the motivation to get the miles done on those dark or wet evenings.

Keep up the banter and let’s keep this community a safe and inclusive place to be ourselves. Post our runs, questions and thoughts. You definitely get some random stuff from me and you also get to see my runs. Respect to everyone out there doing this run thing…you are awesome!

As a footnote, I am still not sure I can say I love running, but it keeps me fit and my Behcet’s seems easier to manage when I am fit.

I have so many funny stories from races and stories from training. Buy me a pint if you ever see me out and I will recount them all.

Barry ?

Ps… If you would like help with getting into running, there are plenty of things that Start Running Stay Running offers. From a VIP membership group where you are coached to reach your goals, to monthly medals to keep you motivated. The free Facebook community is a great place to chat with fellow runners and share your running wins and woes.