If you’re reasonably new to running, then common sense advice in language you can understand is exactly what you need; even if it comes from a somewhat unlikely source.
That’s because while many of the facts you really need to know as a new or relatively inexperienced runner are reasonably straightforward, I honestly don’t know where you’re meant to go and find them.
Not to your local bookshop, certainly, where worthy tomes discussing the intricacies of Fartlek are ten a penny, but where straightforward advice about becoming a runner is nowhere to be found.
And don’t even get me started on all of the ‘4 months to a 4 hour marathon’ type of books. They may work if you’re in your twenties, but (in my personal opinion, the lawyers told me to say) they’re an absolute bloody menace.
The upshot of all this is that while millions of people take up running at some stage in their lives, a lack of basic knowledge will lead many of them to either give up before we’ve given the sport a proper chance, or worse, to get into a spiral of niggling injuries that mean spending more money on physiotherapy than on running shoes.
So, gorgeously athletic though I am, I’d like you to think of me as your fat mate down the pub. The one who can be a bit boring when it comes to talking about marathon PBs, but who can also help you to develop a training routine your body can live with – and just as importantly, who can help you to avoid all the injuries and setbacks that he used to endure.
And how do I know all this? What makes me such an expert? Well, if I’m honest, it’s because in the last 7 years, I’ve made just about every mistake that it’s possible to make as a runner. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that while I’ve missed a couple or three marathons through injury, in doing so I’ve learnt enough about running, and looking after my body, to make injuries pretty much a thing of the past.
In fact, I’m now a 44 year old, 14 stone bloke who routinely covers 20-30 miles a week and does so entirely pain-free. Which is in stark contrast to the agonies I went through when I started running again.
I’ve reached this stage largely through trial and error. Oh, and a quite astounding level of stupidity too, if I’m honest. Many of the mistakes I’ve made would have been largely avoidable, given just a little bit of foresight, basic knowledge and common sense.
It goes without saying that I possessed none of these things 7 years ago. Which is why I had to acquire everything I know about running the hard way.
Now, obviously, I could keep all of the fabulous wisdom I’ve acquired to myself. But that would just be wrong. So instead, I’m going to sharing my hard-won sagacity with you guys here at TJBFS, and also with therunningbug.co.uk’s ever-expanding readership.
In the weeks and months to come, these ‘Mate Down the Pub’ features will build up into a handsome partwork fit to grace any home and help you to get the very most out of your running. But only if you print them out and steal a ring binder from WH Smith to keep them in.
And as is usually the case with these partwork thingies, Part One comes with a handsome Free Gift.
Or Part Two, as it’s sometimes known. Which you’ll find on therunningbug.co.uk right now, with all future parts of this feature appearing over there a full 7 days before they appear here at TJBFS.