Running – one step at a time: “If you want something doing, do…”

James and his family in the Olympic Park Run

Today’s guest blogger is James from ‘Running – one step at a time‘. I’ve known James for several years now. I met him through parkrun and have witnessed the impact that he has had on my local running community. He loves a new challenge and never seems to sleep!

James finish

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m almost 45 and spent most of my life being fairly sedentary! I’ve worked as a software developer and project manager for 20 years and enjoy a technical challenge. At 39, I took up running as I’d set myself a challenge of completing a Cancer Research 10K run as a means of getting fit and losing some weight. Having completed that challenge (it was tough and I only found out recently that Di Mattingly [current Women’s Captain of Lordshill Road Runners – my running club] was also taking part and thought the same!), I then set myself the challenge to run 875 miles the following year. Without that challenge and discovering parkrun, I’d probably have resorted to life on the sofa!

How did you get into triathlon?

Whilst injured, I decided to take up swimming after about 30 years of not getting in a pool other than to bob about with the children and also bought a road bike on the Cycle to Work Scheme – I work from home! The combination of running, swimming and cycling inevitably led to taking up Triathlons… I competed in 3 triathlons in 2013 and have a handful lined up for 2014! I’m very active within the local parkrun events having started up one or two (OK, a few more than that) as well as being the Event Director of Southampton Juniors parkrun.
When I’m not training, I’m a husband to Denise (married for 13 years) and dad to 7-year-old Daniel and Connor who’s 5.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Um. Can’t really think of anything…

How would you summarise what your blog is about?

My blog, Running One Step At a Time, is really a way for me to collate a diary of my training and memories of the events I’ve taken part in. I try to impart some useful information to readers of the blog where I can and for a time, the blog contained more information of how to get the most of an iPhone app, RunKeeeper, which I was using to log my running training at the time. Over the last few years, I’ve had some great opportunities to enjoy events such as parkruns, the National Lottery Olympic Park Family Run and skiing holidays with my children and it’s been a great way to record those experiences to one day, we can all look back and remember those experiences. Along the way, I’ve included details of my involvement in setting up parkrun events, Magic Mile events and my involvement in Race Directing last year’s Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race.
James and his family in the Olympic Park Run
James and his family in the Olympic Park Run

When and why did you start blogging? Are you still blogging for the same reasons?

I started blogging in late 2009 to record how my training was going and my experiences along the way. I’m still blogging the same kind of things although I do try and include details of setting up parkruns and other events such as the LRR Mile Series which I’ve been actively involved with.

Which three blogs/bloggers have had the most influence on you and why? Are there any particular bloggers that you look to for inspiration?

I rarely read other people’s blogs although always read the posts from you and Teri and have recently read posts by TryTri’s Chris Rees. Knowing these people as friends and reading about their experiences in training and events gives me the inspiration to keep at it!

How would someone describe your blogging style?

Informational mostly. I try to include as much information as possible just in case something may be of use to the reader.

What tips would you give to anyone thinking about starting to blog?

Just do it. Whether you blog once a day or once a month, your story might be of interest or use to someone else. It needn’t take long to post and even if the only person that benefits from it is the author, that’s good enough.

Who do you think the main audience is for your blog? Are you writing with any specific person in mind?

Mostly friends and followers on Facebook. I get quite a lot of traffic from people experiencing problems with Runkeeper still although the content on the blog on the app is quite dated now

How do you decide what is ‘blogworthy’?

If I’ve done something new in training, tried a service or product that I feel has helped me in training or if I’ve participated in an event, I’ll normally blog about it. Hopefully, a reader will find those kinds of blog posts useful.
James bike

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Simply getting around to posting on the blog and keeping things interesting for those that are reading it, many of whom are training more and/or participating in more events than me and probably have more interesting stories to share!

What do you do when you aren’t blogging?

Spend time with the family, work, train and sleep! Also, parkrun related stuff takes up time each week as well as being Vice Chairman of Lordshill Road Runners and Race Directing their road races.

What events have you got lined up for 2014?

What skill(s) do you hope to master over the next year?

Improving my swimming and delegation! 😉
James swim

What is your favourite gadget and why?

My Garmin 910XT which records runs, swims and cycle rides (as well as my recent skiing holiday adventures!). If I don’t have a Garmin activity, it never happened!

What’s the furthest from home you’ve travelled for a sporting event?

In terms of the ones I’ve participated in, I don’t travel far due to family commitments. London is probably the furthest to date for the events in the Olympic Park.

What’s your favourite food/recipe?

I couldn’t live without mature Cheddar cheese, wine gums, peanuts and yoghurt! Is there a recipe that includes all of those? I do enjoy a well-cooked steak!
cheeseWine-GumSONY DSCyoghurtSteak-Well-Done

What is your strategy for dealing with an injury? Have you ever had to put it into practice?

Ignore it for a while until it’s far worse, then regret ignoring it! That used to be my strategy! However, I now stop the activity that caused it (almost always running) and focus on the other activities instead. I’ve never been to a physio but did recently have my first sports massage. Ouch!

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?

Arrive really early. Wonder why I arrived really early. Wish I’d stayed in bed for longer and make a mental note to not be so keen to arrive the next time. The latter bit is duly forgotten the next time and the cycle continues! Oh, avoid Gatorade (particularly having drunk litres of the awful stuff before the Great South Run a few years back).

Describe your philosophy for life in a six-word sentence…

If you want something doing, do …

What is the most important advice that you can give to readers?

Set yourself regular challenges no matter how large or small. Without something to focus on, you’re unlikely to find the time, motivation or inclination to achieve something to be proud of.

Thank you, James!

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