How do you turn a top notch sprinter into someone who can run a marathon? Gareth Kyle describes his progress so far.
1. How did you get into running and why?
I got into running almost by accident if truth be told. Since being in secondary school I have always been interested in sports and fitness. During my school years it was Rugby and swimming that I excelled in as well as representing my town in the 100m Sprint. The thought of long distance running ironically enough both terrified and failed to interest me at that point, little did I know that this would change of course.
By my early 20s I had found a new sport and hobby to keep my interested and excel in and that was boxing. After almost 5 years and a handful of fights as a fairly capable amateur boxer I left it behind to spend more time in the house with the family. After giving up boxing and failing to find motivation at the gym I needed a new hobby.
In a moment of madness and inspired by a work colleagues a month or so before the Great North Run I promptly signed up for the 2017 Sunderland half marathon. I had a loose target of sub 2 hours (1 hour 40 minutes I ended up getting) and with the promise to myself that I was going to train hard for the next 5-6 months to achieve that. After talking to one of the coaches at the Quakers a quiet soul by the name of Gary Read… Ha-ha, he encouraged me to give parkrun a go and on an extremely cold December morning I laced up my trainers for my first parkrun. I remember not only being amazed by the amount of runners out there despite the grizzly conditions but the support each and every one of them gave me as I made my way around the three lap course.
It wasn’t long after that I found myself at a Thursday night Quakers training session and the rest as they say is history. Almost 3 years later and my initial love and wonder I found at my first parkrun has not wavered and I can genuinely say running has changed my life for the better not just for me but for my family as well.
2. What kept you going when you first started running?
I have two answers to the question and they are as follows:
The first thing that I would say is the overwhelming sense of belonging/pride I felt at being part of not just the Quakers but the entire running community in this town. As already touched upon the help and support I got was amazing and I felt very lucky. I always try to give back what I can and I’m always here if anyone needs help.
The second thing was how in running, similar to other sports, there are always new things to learn and improve on and three years later being fairly new to running I am still surprising myself with new training runs and routes etc. This in particular was vital in the first few months in keeping me going and motivated.
3. How much Training do you typically do each week?
Depends on the shift pattern and family commitments but genuinely anywhere between 3-5 runs a week and with a bare minimum to hit 25 miles. Personally I find it easier if I have a number that I know I need to hit so if that takes me three or five runs at least I have a goal in mind.
4. Be honest do you enjoy training?
If I am being honest then yes…most of the time. Unfortunately due to a hectic lifestyle I mostly find myself running on my own. I do try to get down the club whenever I can and training with other running friends etc. Training has become a massive part of my life and I do enjoy it but I would be lying if I said that sometimes especially when the weather is poor I don’t wish I could sit down with a cuppa and enjoy a Netflix binge Ha-ha.
5. Do you do any other sports or fitness activities?
While I would love to be able to squeeze something more in I find my life mostly taken up with running and family so running at least at the moment more than keeps me occupied, maybe one day I can find another hobby when the boys are a little bit older.
6. Do you manage to fit in any other hobbies?
Well from a very young age I have always been heavily interested in Film. I love going to the cinema whenever I can especially with Taylor and Charlotte so that would be the other big interest in my life. Reading also is a massive influence in my day to day activities and try to read wherever possible and instil the importance of it in Taylor to always be carrying around a good book, which along with running just about covers it I think.
7. Tell us about some of the races you have done in the past?
I have done a variety of different races in the past and always try to pick new ones out every year that I haven’t done in the past to try and spice things up. For example two races that I have only just took part in this June of this year were the Ali Brownlee 5k just up the road in Middlesbrough and the famous Blaydon Races. Both races I enjoyed immensely and I am sure will take their places amongst the oldfavourites such as Tees Pride and Darlington 10k.
Some other memorable Races include the Liverpool “Rock and Roll” half marathon this year as well as my current half marathon PB race the Edinburgh half marathon back in 2018. Another race that I enjoyed immensely was the Lanzarote half marathon in December of 2018 as it was my first experience of running a race abroad and in sweltering conditions.
I encourage everyone to seek out different races and try as many as you can its always worked for me and I liked the challenge of find different ones year in year out.
8. What’s your current running goal?
My current running goal is to hopefully go under the 40 minute mark for a 10K which this time last year seemed an awfully long way off. After a long time of hard club training sessions and sound advice it’s becoming a lot closer to being achievable. I also would love to be able to beat my current half marathon PB at Cardiff later on this year but only time will tell on that goal…
9. What are you long term running goals?
When it comes to long term running goals there is still a distance that I would love to have a crack at and that is of course the marathon, 26.2 miles. I promised myself and my wife that I would wait until the boys are a little bit older as after speaking to members of the Club they advised me of the brutal training requirements needed to complete a marathon.
Another fun running goal I would like to achieve is to be able to run a half marathon in every British capital city with my good friend and running mentor Phil Johnston who helps me massively in all my training and advice on race day. After completing Edinburgh in 2018 and with Cardiff already in the calendar for late 2019 I have London, Belfast and Dublin still left to complete this unofficial capital city running tour.
10. What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?
For me personally as boring as it could sound it would have to be a 10k road race. It’s the distance that made me fall in love with running and where my first running goal was achieved which was to run under 45 minutes for a 10k. I also think it’s the distance that has the most races to offer and with a wide variety of terrains to offer whether it be a flat, city road race, all the way to a local village trail race.
11. What are your proudest running achievements?
For me there are two that stand above the rest as something to look back on with pride and remember, one of them a 10k race and the other a city half marathon.
The first was back in March of this year and that was placing first in the Stroke Association 10k just down the road the Tees Barrage. After a punishing first lap which I just managed to keep up with the pack of runners that were pulling away to picking them off one a time on the second lap to finish first was brilliant. Coming away knocking almost two whole minutes of a long held 10k PB was the icing on the cake it was a brilliant race and still something I am proud of.
The second was breaking my half marathon PB at Edinburgh half marathon in May 2018. After the worst winter in a decade which massively hampered my training preparation for the EMF. While battling 12 hours shifts at work it was safe to say I didn’t feel particularly confident when lining up for the race on a misty and cold May morning. What happened after surprised myself and after a gruelling 13.1 miles I bagged myself the hardest earned PB I have ever achieved, these two stand out for me and in the next few years I will have many more to add to the list.
12. Anything in your running experience you regret?
Nothing massive springs to mind but I wish I had learned to listen to my body quicker and that it’s okay to stop if you feel like your body needs more time to recover. Not learning the benefits of a good sports massage until about a year later is something I would change.
13. How many pairs of running shoes do you have and do you have a favourite pair?
I can’t say a have a favourite pair as such. I currently own three pairs of running shoes of two particular brands. While everyone is different the two brands I find work for me are Brooks and Asics. Currently I have own a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 19s which I mostly use for 5 And 10ks. A newly acquired pair are my Ghost 11s, which were purchased for comfort in longer training runs up to half marathon distances. An old but faithful pair of Brooks Transcend 5 which now will mostly be used for training in, rounds out my collection. The guys and girls at Up and Running Darlington have been brilliant at recommending me trainers to fit my needs and would recommend them to anyone wanting some good honest advice about trainers.
14. What’s your idea of running heaven?
Running heaven for me would be a lovely cool summer’s morning and a nice one lap flat 10k course to complete.
15. What’s your idea of running hell?
I don’t have to think too much about this question as I have already lived through my experience of it Ha-ha. Whitby cross country 2017 was my version or as close as one could get; hailstones, freezing conditions, lots of snow and rain and don’t forget mud and hills which trail shoes were no good for. I know XC has a place in running but for me I much prefer my roads and pavements and to be clean rather than soaked in mud.
16. What is the best piece of running advice you’ve been given?
This is a tough one to answer as over the years I have been given a lot of good and sound advice from a lot of different people, the best bit that I try to hold onto is try not to put too much pressure on yourself enjoy the run and always listen to your body.
17. Any Advice to newcomers at running?
The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to start running is to try and set yourself up for success and surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Your local parkrun as well as your local running club are great places to start and it worked wonders for me. In this town we are very privileged to have a social run group every Monday, which incorporates runners of all abilities and is a great and more importantly, social way to kick start your week. Also always purchase a good pair of running shoes for your first pair.
18. What keeps you going when the going gets tough in a hard race?
For me personally what keeps me going in a race is knowing that nine times out of ten there is always someone waiting for me at the finish to give me encouragement and support and wondering to myself if I have enough for a gut busting sprint finish. That and the promise of food at the end normally does the trick!
19. How do you relax/reward yourself after a race?
For me answering this question it wouldn’t be right not to mention my support crew as they are my favourite thing about race day and especially when it comes to relaxing after a hard race. Charlotte my beautiful wife and Logan and Taylor are nearly always there at the line willing me on and if it wasn’t for their inclusion it wouldn’t be half as gratifying.
For us it nearly always involves food whether that be a nice full English breakfast after or perhaps a trip to get some ice cream after depending on the weather. We normally try to make a day out of it and go somewhere as a family as we don’t always get time together so it’s nice to take full advantage of that. That’s normally how I reward myself after a tough race. The odd pint every now and again certainly doesn’t go amiss.
20. If you could run anywhere in the world where would it be?
That’s one of the easiest answers today thankfully Ha-ha. After visiting Boston USA in October 2015 alongside my wife while we were on our honeymoon it’s safe to say that both of us fell in love with the city. While back then I hadn’t started running it’s always been a place I would love to go back too. My ultimate dream would be to take part back in the Boston Marathon a major and one of the oldest/most famous running events in the world.
Running the London Marathons comes in an extremely close second and something one day I hope to be able to say I did.
The last thing I would like to say is a massive, massive thank you to the club and all its coaches and members. I feel honoured and privileged to be a part of this great club and without the advice support and guidance from a great many people I wouldn’t be half the runner I am today and I certainly wouldn’t have keep running this past three years. Here’s to many more years of running and if anyone ever needs anything from me I am always here to help! Thank you for listening Gareth.