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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Coventry City Council - Be Healthy; Be Well Campaign

As part of  the launch of Coventry City Council's 'Be Healthy; Be Well' campaign, Chief Executive Martin Reeves wrote a brief article focusing on why he runs and the personal health benefits that it has given him. His words are below and while most runners will identify with them, new runners or those thinking about starting may be a little inspired by them.

Running and me

Martin Reeves

I have always loved running. As a child growing up, I used to run competitively and was lucky enough to run for my County, Kent at the national cross-country championships. As I went through University I played lots of different team sports, which kept me generally fit, but I still managed to find the time and energy to get out and run two or three times a week. 

I was in my mid-twenties, when I was diagnosed with adult-onset asthma and I have to say that it took a number of years before I was able to identify the triggers and get it under control with the right medication. Physical exercise and particularly running has been one of the best ways of controlling my asthma (although I still need to take medication each day) and I now thankfully feel better than ever.  

When I first arrived in Coventry almost three years ago now, I was asked to support the promotion of the city half marathon and I thought the best way of doing that was to take part, rather than just talk about it! That gave me the target for what was going to be my first 13.1 miles. Although I had kept running over the years to keep generally fit; going out maybe once or twice a week, either on the roads or on the treadmill at the gym, I had not taken it seriously since my cross-country running teenage years. I gave myself a personal goal of completing the half marathon under 1.45. I trained really hard for about 3 months beforehand, including getting up early to run before coming to work and doing a long run (maybe 10 miles) at the weekend. I managed to finish in 1.37. I had been well and truly bitten by the running bug and carried on running three of four times a week in all weathers, when it would have been much easier to crawl back under the covers on a wet, dark and cold morning. I have done two further Coventry half marathons (and one down in Bristol), managing to get my time down to 1.27 in October 2011. 

I mention these times, not to boast, because there are a lot of people much fitter and faster than me, but rather to make the point that when running is concerned; to set personal goals is really motivating. Not only does having a run in the calendar a few months ahead motivate me; but wanting to beat my previous personal best time helps get me out of bed. 

I ran my first ever 10k road race this Christmas and managed to do it in 38 minutes, having set myself a target of 40 – so that has really spurred me on to keep running through the winter months.  

Why do I run? - for many reasons, but above all because it makes me feel physically and mentally alert. As I get into my forties, I can no longer take my health and fitness for granted as I know I did when I was younger. I have a young family and so it’s really important that I look after myself, so that I can be there for them. My asthma is under control and I know that is mainly due to the running and exercise I do. But above all it’s fun. You don’t have to get as committed as I have (or as obsessed as my wife Lucy would say!) to get these benefits – just walk briskly a few times a week or if you can; get out and jog; then run a little further and then a little faster and who knows where that might take you. Just do it – you won’t look back, I promise!

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