Meet Stu Wright!
Stu: I’m Stuart Wright, I am from Bradford, West Yorkshire, originally but now live over the border in Nelson, Lancashire. I’ve run on and off for over 10 years but only really committed to it in February 2016.
What’s your running story?
Stu: As mentioned above I’d run on and off after giving up playing football and had done a few races but nothing serious. I then had two children and did virtually no exercise, in February 2016 I had a free health check at work. The results were not great and they gave me a real wake up call, I decided there and then to stop making excuses and do something about it so I started running and haven’t looked back since.
Sounds like you made a big life-improving decision. So, what running shoes do you trust to take you on your running journey?
Stu: I currently have three pairs, an old pair of Reeboks that I’ll wear occasionally, a pair of Nike Pegasus 33s which I love, they are my first “real” running shoes and are super comfy and I recently won a pair of Asics Kayano 24s which I’m just starting to break in on shorter runs.
Congrats on winning a pair of running shoes! So, what is your favourite distance to put your shoes to work and why?
Stu: I’d have to say half marathon. I’ve actually only ever raced two but have done lots in my current marathon training plan. I like the distance because it feels like I’m stretching myself, you can stretch yourself no matter what the distance, but a half gives you time to get into it and enjoy it.
So, I take it your favourite event is a half marathon then! Which one and why?
Stu: I loved the Leeds Half Marathon in May this year and have signed up again for next year. The event holds some really good memories for me as I was able to banish the ghosts of a previous disastrous half marathon attempt at the 2007 Great North Run. At Leeds I’d arranged to meet a bunch of people from the @ukrunchat gang pre-race and it was great to see everyone and share stories which helped me to relax. The course itself was good and the support was fantastic, I had my name on the front of my shirt for the first time and it was amazing to hear complete strangers shouting encouragement. As with other Run For All events it was also really well organised and the post-race Erdinger went down a treat.
I bet it did! Sounds like you deserved it! What other event(s) would you really like to participate in and why?
Stu: I’d love to have a go at running abroad somewhere, possibly Berlin or Barcelona marathons. Also I like the idea of the Endure24 event, it would be great to get a group of runners together to challenge ourselves and see how far we can go, not sure about doing the 2am slot but if needed I’d take one for the team!
They sound like great adventures which would give you loads of stories to share! What is your most memorable race/event up to now and why?
Stu: The Run For All Burnley 10k in June 2016 was very memorable. It was the first race I did after starting running again and had been a goal for my training. The company I worked for at the time were one of the sponsors and so I got a free place, as did my wife, although we didn’t run together. Having her there with me made it special and my kids were at the finish line too for the first time which was great. It was a red hot day and it felt like a real slog at times but I was proud to get round in a decent time. At that point I could have given in and told myself that I was fit now and I didn’t need running any more but the following evening I put on my finisher’s top and went out for a few miles with a big smile on my face. Looking back, it feels like that was a key moment in my running journey and the point at which I really committed to it.
What a fantastic story Stu! I bet you’re now so pleased you made that decision to head out the day after your race glory! So, apart from the joy of crossing the line, what else do you like about running?
Stu: I like the freedom it gives me, I put my shoes on and just go. I can have had a shocker of a day but when I run I am alone with my thoughts and after a couple of miles I have normally got my head together and forgotten about whatever had bothered me. Running also gives you the chance to explore and on a couple of holidays this year I have taken my kit and gone out to see what I can find. Really importantly for me, I love that through the Twitter running community in particular, I have found some like-minded people. I have found acceptance, encouragement, accountability and friendship. I have also started my own blog which as a frustrated writer has given me a voice and an outlet for my thoughts.
Ah, another frustrated writer! What frustrates you about running?
Stu: That’s a tough one, I wouldn’t say I have ever really felt frustrated by running but there are occasions when you miss a PB by a couple of seconds and that can irk me but it isn’t something I get too hung up about.
It seems there are a few things you’ve mentioned that answer my next question, but I want to ask it anyway. What motivates you to run?
Stu: I have a couple of powerful motivators which keep me going. I don’t want to go back to being the person I was 18 months ago. Since then I have lost 3 stone in weight, my diet is drastically better and as I approach my 40th birthday I feel better and fitter than I have ever done. My family motivate me as I want them to be proud of me and I want to provide a positive example for my children. Also in February 2012 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, following a successful operation and subsequent surveillance I have fortunately been cancer free since and I was officially discharged by my oncologist earlier this year. This time in my life motivates me as I firmly believe I was given a second chance and I want to grasp that chance and ring every last bit out of it. Running is part of that and it also gives me a vehicle to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and give something back to those who helped me.
Wow Stu! It sounds like you’ve got plenty of motivation to run and to make the most of every moment. Congratulations on your successful fight. Keep running! Surely, though, you have days/times when you just don’t want to run?
Stu: I think we all do but often I find they can be the best times to run as I get a real high from putting myself out there and doing it when I didn’t want to.
Which brings me onto asking you how you fit running into your life. This is the silver bullet question for most fellow runners. Can you provide any nuggets of wisdom on the topic?
Stu: At the moment I am training for my first marathon in York in October so I’m in full training plan mode and it feels like running has taken over my life. Outside of marathon training I normally run Monday and Friday after work and maybe one other day if I can fit it in. My wife is great and really supportive, I have to be flexible at times if things come up but with a bit of planning and communication I can generally fit in my runs.
How do you think running could be more accessible for people?
Stu: I would say that it is generally pretty accessible already. With the advent of parkrun and the Couch To 5k programmes people have lots of opportunities to get involved. Social media allows people to interact with running clubs and other runners so new runners can easily access advice and support and in reality all you need is a pair of trainers to get started.
When you’re running, what is going on in your head?
Stu: Not sure I should put that in writing! Seriously, I think about a whole host of subjects ranging from ‘What am I going to have for my tea when I get in?’, to ‘Is that niggle in my knee getting worse?’, to ‘Who will be starting from Bradford City on Saturday’ and ‘Can we beat x,y or z?’
Do you wear headphones whilst running or not? What is your reasoning for your response?
Stu: Yes, on the whole I like to run and listen to music, I find that it gives me a distraction from listening to my breathing and by choosing the right songs it can be hugely motivating. I listen to all sorts and find that music can also help as I can say to myself that I’ll try and get to the next significant marker in my route in one song or two songs time. Purely because headphones weren’t allowed I have run three 10k races this year without them. In the first race I found it a rather odd experience and spent most of the time singing to myself. The other two races though have been better and I know that if I have to, then I can run without music, it’s just not my preference.
Who inspires you and why? (Running or otherwise)
Stu: Tough one. This question has been asked a couple of times online recently, I am not overly inspired or impressed by celebrity; if someone is getting out and working hard to improve themselves no matter if they are running 1 mile or 100 miles, that is inspiring to me and should be encouraged and praised.
Apart from timsrunningworld.com (obviously!), what other blogs/articles/books/media do you recommend to others and for what reasons?
Stu: I enjoy reading various blogs and media content, I know quite a few people who write some really good blogs and it would be unfair of me I think to just name check one or two.
That’s a fair answer Stu. Will you name-check a few of your favourite running brands and explain why?
Stu: I tend to shop around and don’t have a specific brand that I always go for, I have a great top that I bought for a couple of quid in Lidl, there are bargains to be had out there.
The age of austerity has definitely ensured we’re all that bit more creative when it comes to purchases now. On a lighter note, what is your funniest moment associated with running?
Stu: Meeting Dirty Leeds, aka Colin Johnstone at the Leeds Half Marathon. He is genuinely one of the nicest blokes you will ever meet and his stories had me laughing all day.
I think I’ll have to track him down! I follow a couple of ‘inspirational quote’-type handles on Twitter. I’m interested, do you have a mantra or favourite quote you use when running?
Stu: Not really, the only one I have heard that comes to mind was from Ron Hill, “Get going … walk if you have to, but finish the damned race.”
Wise words from a running legend! So, what is your next ‘damned race’ and how are you approaching it?
Stu: My next challenge is my biggest. My first marathon, the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon in York on 8th October. All my running since February has really been working towards it, I have done a 16 week training plan, I am leaving nothing to chance, I want to do myself justice and enjoy the day.
16 weeks is far more sensible than my three week training plan for my debut marathon I ran in May 2017! The very best of luck to you Stu!
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