Simon Lloyd-Jones has found his winning formula for sticking at his running. His desire of something to show for his achievements, a challenge with a friend and finding Virtual Runner has improved his confidence in the sport. Now instead of opting for running at quieter times to avoid being seen, he is now training his for first marathon as he has secured a ballot place in the 2018 London Marathon! Simon in his own words, says:
I never considered myself a runner. I never thought it would be something I would enjoy. I was wrong.
On paper running seems an easy hobby; something that can be done as and when you like. This makes it perfect for fitting around family and work commitments, a hobby that you can pick up and put down whenever you need. I figured this flexibility would be the key to me sticking at it and improving my fitness.
Following the usual New Year’s resolution of “I must make an effort to be healthier”, I decided that running would be my hobby of choice to help me do it. Here I was, one cold January Saturday morning going for a run. I hadn’t planned to go far, just a short jog up the road and back, just to ease myself into it. After about a kilometre I was walking, no longer running. Tired, out of breath; it was hard work and I was physically exhausted. That almost put an end to running for me there and then. I struggled over the next year to find the motivation to go running again. Every couple of months I’d go for a run, but unsurprisingly I wasn’t improving. I needed something to motivate me to run.
When we’re children we get gold stars, or stickers, a tick chart or pocket money. Something that says: “Well done, all that effort was worthwhile”. This is what I was missing; a pat on the back for getting out and putting the work in. It may sound shallow but the reality is I was struggling to be motivated without it.
At roughly the same time as this realisation I discovered Virtual Runner. An old friend of mine had been posting pictures of medals on Facebook recently and it got me intrigued. After a quick Google search I discovered a number of companies in the UK that offer virtual running medals. This was exactly what I needed. Firstly I’d be making a financial commitment to running that distance which for me always means I want to get my money’s worth and secondly after putting the work in I get a nice shiny medal to show my achievement.
That’s where my virtual running journey started. Within 6 months I had run for 9 medals. I had improved my distance and time by a little and I was feeling much better and healthier for it.
After showing a friend of mine the medals I had received so far and discussing the benefits of running from a health point of view we decided to set ourselves a challenge.
2017 was going to be a year of medals. Whichever of us manages to achieve the most medals by the end of the year buys the other dinner. Now the pressure was really on. At first I thought I would run for a couple each month, but once I started I couldn’t stop. Seeing the great designs, I found myself starting to exceed my yearly target of 24 within 3 months. At the time of writing this I have amassed 66 medals this year and will have another 10 by the end of 2017.
However it has now become less about the medals. They provided a great motivational tool to start me running regularly. But now I find myself running when I have no medal to get for it. I have increased by stamina and fitness no end. I feel a much better person for it and I have started pushing myself further than I ever thought I would.
Next year will see me entering live race events, something I never thought I’d do. My poor fitness has always led me to run at quieter times of the day and on quieter roads, shying away from the public. Not now. Now I am keen to run in organised events and try and pit myself against other runners. Relish in the challenge a race and not a run can provide.
I was even inspired by my new found love for running to enter the ballot for the 2018 London Marathon. I’ve been one of the lucky few to get a space. I’ve not run a marathon before but instead of being terrified I’m really looking forward to it. Ok, I’m a little terrified by I’m also really excited.
If you’re looking for motivation to make a change to your fitness then Virtual Runner could be just the ticket for you. It certainly was for me.