Meet the Marathon Man

Sometimes taking that first step can be the hardest thing. We talked to Rory McIntyre, a keen and experienced runner about how he got started and why he keeps going…

Meet the Marathon Man

You don’t have to be good at sports

It probably all started at school, I was terrible at schools sports, and never accomplished anything until I ran cross country and found out I was able to keep up with the “sport billy” types.

I enjoyed running, and just went out and ran to keep fit, this continued through college. At university my lecturer was a marathon runner. I could never comprehend running that distance, but he explained it was a gradual build-up of distance over the years, so I started increasing the distance and making time to train.

Get the right gear

As I ran longer distances, I realised I needed proper running shoes. Someone recommended a running store but I knew nothing about the shoe I wanted or even what distances I wanted to achieve, but the owner was an experienced runner and guided me through the shoes available. They had me running up and down the street outside the shop with various shoes on until I found the shoe that suited my running style. With these shoes the recovery time was reduced, and I could train for longer distances and more often.

The habit of a lifetime

Now I’ve been running for over 30 years, in various events from 10k to ultra-marathons. At times I’ve never wanted to do another event again, but it’s not long before I’m scouting around for another one. I think it is to do with challenging the body and mind, but most people who know me think I am just plain mad.

Five years ago I picked up a significant injury that required surgery which stopped me from competing/training for six months. It was a month after the operation when I went on holiday with my brother in law.  He had been running for about a year, but I deliberately didn’t pack my running gear, convinced I was going to get injured again. He offered me a spare bit of running kit, and on the first day of the holiday I ran. We did about six miles, it was pain free and cleared my mind of all my worries about training again, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and that was a start of a new chapter.

Adding new sports to the mix

I decided that I needed to try something new, Triathlon. I was never a good swimmer and only rode a mountain bike but I entered a local event and joined a Tri class at the local gym.

With a borrowed wet suit, race bike and clip on bike shoes I was ready to compete two weeks later.

On the day, I was wondered how I would manage to run from the swim section to the bike transition across a gravel path in bare feet, but another member of the Tri class, said don’t worry about that as my feet would be numb with the cold of swimming, he was right, I didn’t feel the pain of running on gravel!

The cycle course was difficult, full of climbs and steep descents and I was cycling for the first time with clip on shoes. I finished the bike section and ran with the bike to transition, where I promptly picked up a time penalty for having my top unzipped! It was tricky running after cycling 20 miles but I just kept on running through the wobbly legs. At the end of the race I was 40th out of a field on 400….. I was pleased, and had met a friendly crowd of people.

Since then I’ve built up longer distances in triathlon events and last year completed a full ironman, which was such a great feeling at the finishing line, but also the most un-nerving at the start of the swim section standing on the bank of a lake waiting for the sun to rise in order to take on a twelve and a half hour event.

Something for all ages

I have a young family, and they are keen to stay fit.  I run on a Sunday morning with my youngest in the junior park run (a 2 km course).   These are held all over the country at the weekend for people of all ages (form 5 yrs. up) and abilities, and are friendly and encouraging. They are free too, just log on to the website and enter your details, and you will receive a barcode to take to the events.

The key to getting fitter and healthier is taking the first step and trying something new. It will open you up to new people and friends who are likeminded, who will support and encourage you to achieve your own personal goals, and have a lot fun along the way.

We all get nervous trying something new, but the rewards can be great.

Take that first step

Why don’t you take your first step to a fitter, healthier lifestyle by signing up to the ‘take a walk dare‘ as part of the ongoing Dare to Care programme?

A short walk every day can really help improve your fitness levels, and it could be the start of something even bigger…