Starting these things is always the hardest bit so I will jump right in there and say I bloody love running I do and it’s my single most favouritist thing in the world. There. Done. I began running in 2009. I’d put on a bit of weight and had a three month gap between jobs so thought I would set myself a target of running a half marathon and hoped to lose a stone in the process. I’d run at club level in my youth, but if I am honest I didn’t really enjoy those days because it was very regimented and not much fun. So, anyway, I bought a cheap pair of trainers from the bargain section in TK Maxx and off I went. I had a friend that was a runner and he gave me some routes. I started off doing a couple of miles and slowly slowly worked my way up. I remember running seven miles, around part of what I now know as the Swithland 6 course, and thinking ‘blimey, I’m absolutely loving this!’. I was hooked. I ran the Leicester Half for LOROS and set my next goal as the Woodhouse Eaves May Day Challenge. It was a relatively new event back then and I had heard tales in the pub about its severity in gradient. They weren’t wrong! But I got round and it was worth it for the Ploughman’s lunch put together by the local W.I alone. I was working away a lot so I would throw my trainers in the back of the car and have something to look forward to at the end of the long drives. You can discover some amazing places when you run. If you ever get the chance then try the single road along Haweswater Reservoir in the Lake District. Just amazing. And even running through Cities and Town centres always gives you a different perspective on places. I was running a lot but I wasn’t really taking it very seriously. My times had sort of plateaued and I was simply enjoying it as a pastime more than anything else. I was running three or four half marathons a year, always including the May Day Challenge. I liked the fact that running meant I could eat crisps and Mars bars without any feeling of guilt! I changed jobs again in 2014 and found some fellow runners in my new workplace. I had always run alone and the chance to compare times, routes and achievements was a whole new thing for me. We worked closely as a team and spent a lot of time travelling, especially at weekends, so Park Run became my new best friend. I’d began to use new training methods which had been suggested by my colleagues and I was flying. I was running intervals for the first time and they were really paying off. I smashed my Park Run PB week on week and I nailed a PB at the Leicester Half. I’d hit 40 and was in the form of my life. Then things took a bit of a dip. I felt something go in my left leg running around the Braunstone Park Run. It was the middle of December and freezing cold that morning. I had been training a heck of a lot, so I thought I must have just been overdoing it. I took some advice and rested for a couple of weeks. I was getting frustrated with not being able to run so while away with work in the ‘luxurious’ settings of a hotel in Scunthorpe I got up and decided to jump on a treadmill to give it a blast. Big mistake. A couple of minutes later I’d been dumped off the back of it with my femur snapped in two. So it turned out I had stress fractured my femur doing a Park Run. No mean feat that. And the impact of the treadmill had taken it over the edge…snap. Ouch. Followed by a lot of expletives. I spent eight days in Hull Royal Infirmary on some pretty heavy pain relief. I don’t really remember much of it but my wife Jude and the kids remind me I was a very funny on the drugs and also quite rude to the nurses which I still feel bad about! They fixed my leg together again with a titanium rod and six screws and I was good to go. I was conscious enough at one point to ask the consultant when I would be able to start running again. He just laughed and said ‘I don’t think you’ll be running again Mr Sanders’. ‘We’ll see about that’, I thought. My workplace were brilliant about my injury and set about putting me back together again. We had a plan. The physio sessions were really difficult but I was working for at least an hour a day on getting back on my feet again and I had that goal in my mind of being able to run. Even if it was just a Park Run. It seemed a lifetime away to begin with, but as the months went by I got stronger and stronger. Six months into my rehabilitation I tentatively put my running shoes back on a snook down to the village cricket field in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t want anyone to see me as I had no idea what was going to happen. I took the first few steps and although I must have looked like Bambi on ice it felt ok. I was running, albeit with a horrendous limp. I managed a lap and over the coming months I would try and try again. There lot of false starts, that’s for sure. I just couldn’t manage more than a couple of laps and my limp was making me think I was probably doing more bad in the long term than good. I was about to give up and concede that maybe the consultant was right when we decided to try and work on the muscles in my ever expanding glutinous maximus (my bum). We’d got a new machine at work and I was a willing guinea pig. I’d been constantly told to ‘squeeze my glutes’ in the physio sessions and I thought I had been. But then I had a eureka moment when I could squeeze them bum cheeks together once again and there was no stopping me now! I ran a couple of kilometres on the road and felt amazing. I still had a limp but I was running again. Yes, I was a hell of a lot slower than i had been, but just that feeling of getting out there again…. Magic. My next goal was a Park Run. I was away with work in Southampton and had run that race before so knew it was flat. I was really nervous at the start, mainly being worried about my leg snapping in half again, but my colleagues reminded me that a titanium rod was probably more difficult to snap than bone, so off I went. It felt amazing to be running in that environment again and I came back in 29 minutes and 20 seconds. I was a complete emotional wreck. I had transferred to the LRI for my rehab and the consultant there was a former rugby player. He was much more encouraging about what I would be able to achieve on the sporting front. He kept telling me that my body would soon let me know if it didn't like what i was putting it through. So I started to slowly up the training. The limp disappeared and the times started to come down. It was a slow process but I was getting there. I had a second operation in April 2016 to remove some of the metalwork in my leg that was causing me discomfort. That was the final piece of the jigsaw. There was no stopping me now. I’d been given another chance at running and I wasn’t about to let it go, so I started looking for a club to join. I’d emailed Barrow as I had seen them at the May Day Challenge, but they didn’t get back to me (their loss!). Then I was at the Braunstone Park Run and there were a lot of people there from Team Anstey who were doing couch to 5km. After a few training nights, I was hooked and now eight months on I am running better than ever and have met some great people in the process. So, what’s next? Well I am determined to beat my pre-leg snap Park Run PB of 22.12 which I have got within four seconds of (annoying!) and I am going to run one of the local half marathons coming up in the Autumn. Oh, and I am signed up for London in 2018 as well… which will be my first (and probably last!) marathon. I love the camaraderie at Team Anstey. Everyone encourages everyone, no matter what ability level you are. We are all runners. it doesn’t matter if it takes you four minutes or 14 minutes to run a mile. You are still doing it. I’m constantly inspired by you all.
Alas, I've not even been running a year, so my running origin story is going to seem pretty brief. Picture this. A horrendously unfit teen who never leaves the house to talk to anyone outside his close friends and family, eating junk food, playing video games and basically not doing anything (outside of schoolwork anyway) with his life. He also has a 98 beat per minute resting heart rate and can barely run up the stairs without keeling over in a coughing fit. That was me less than a year ago. Boy I was depressing. I guess my total and complete hatred of sports came from secondary school PE. As a huge introvert, getting involved in sports always seemed terrifying, so I just let myself sit at the sidelines and look miserable as much as possible, trying my damn hardest not to do much of anything. Naturally, I rejoiced at the idea that at college, there would be no compulsory PE! Hooray! I guess that's when the change in me occurred - for the first time in my life I wasn't being forced to do anything - I was in charge of keeping my body from falling apart. That responsibility motivated me to search for a solution, to not only save my unfit body but also because university applications became a dark shadow looming in the distant future - what would I write about myself? I did nothing with my life. My dad had always been a firm believer in running. He used to take me and my sister for 2 mile jogs around Cropston, and in a way I sort of enjoyed them, however a recent knee injury meant his running days were over. It looked like I was on my own, so after ages and ages of trying to mentally prepare myself, I was out the door in his old trainers in the late August sunshine. I had planned to do 2 miles - if I could run that distance aged 10 then why not? I almost collapsed at 1.2 miles, laying down on the pavement of Woodgon road nearly crying. But I decided not to give up that easily. An hour later I went out on the same route again - slower, but determined. I made it all the way round, swearing to myself profusely on the final jog back up Link. From then on, the rest is history. I fell head over heels for running (much to the dismay of my girlfriend)! I loved the way it challenged not just my body but my mind - every stride was a battle against my negativity to keep pushing through. And for once in my life I felt I'd found a sport where I fitted in - I'd always felt clumsy and uncoordinated in sports like football or rugby but running? I felt built for it. But what now? I needed a goal, a commitment, something to keep me pushing, and striving to get better. I'd heard about an Anstey running club from my mum, who debated joining a while back but never could motivate herself to join. Me and my friend Molly, who had also taken an interest in the sport (she was always a sporty one and left me in the dust initially) decided we would join in late September, and that was my first Team Anstey session. It was one challenge to the next challenge from then on. First, I did my first Parkrun (a respectable 29 minutes), then I joined the winter league, and then finally I did my first Half Marathon - the Coventry Half - in March (followed by three more Half Marathons - I was hooked)! I then broke my Parkrun PB four successive times with help from the Team Anstey Pacing sessions (of which I did every single one, rain or shine). And the fun doesn't stop there - I then went and signed up for the Leicester Full in October like some crazy fool. From there I'm sure I'll end up pushing myself even further, because running is incredibly addictive! I wouldn't have made it nearly as far without you guys though. I'll admit there are days even now and then where I don't feel like leaving my bed in the morning, but the fact that it's a Team Anstey training day gets me up and out there and once I'm running I've soon lost my bad mood. It's amazing how much running has improved my mind; how less stressful it makes me. Team Anstey gives me something to look forward to while I'm at college on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I always feel like I'm pushed to the max by the support from you guys, especially at the League Races, which started out as me just wanting to get round every single one (a goal which I'm delighted to be achieving, all going well) but has become me testing the limits of what I thought my body was capable of. But above all, I enjoy the people. The kind of friendship, competitiveness and witty banter I get from Team Anstey makes me glad I went outside all those months ago. Thank you everyone. Onwards and upwards!