Meet the runner – Rob Stewart

  1. How long have you been running and what inspired you to take up running as a hobby?


I’ve been running for just over four years having started in January 2016. I was getting a little bored and demotivated by working out alone in the gym and I wanted to find a more sociable way of keeping fit. A friend of mine was regularly posting on Facebook about how much she enjoyed parkrun so I got in contact with her and she agreed to meet there the following week. It just kind of escalated from there!


  1. What is it that you enjoy about running?


Going for a run gets me out into the fresh air and gives me some time alone with my thoughts to figure things out. Alternatively, it gives me sometime where I can clear my mind completely and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other without any other distractions. It also keeps me fit and healthy, there is always a new goal to work towards and I get to meet up with and spend time with some great people that I have met through running.


  1. Do you prefer to run alone or with other people?


Most of the time I would say that I prefer to run with other people as I enjoy the sociable aspect of it. It’s also nice to have some company when you are on a long run as you can all keep each other motivated if one of you is struggling by offering encouragement and support.


  1. What is your favourite distance to run/race and why?


I would say that a half marathon is my favourite distance because it is a distance that you have to properly prepare for. You can probably muddle through 5km or 10km with minimal training, however the half marathon is a distance that you need to respect otherwise it is likely to be a very unpleasant experience for you. I think the buzz I get from setting a new half marathon PB exceeds that of any of the shorter distances I run.


  1. What is your biggest running achievement and why?


When I set my new half marathon PB of 1:51:44 at the Leamington Spa half marathon in July 2019. I had spent 6 months trying to get back to full fitness following a 3-month absence after some medical procedures in late 2018 so for me to knock around 3 minutes off my previous PB was a really big deal for me. I felt like I was back to where I wanted to be.

LSHM Medal

  1. What has been your lowest/toughest running moment and why?

In terms of toughest/lowest moments whilst running then I would say that there are two that come to mind for me. The first was the 2018 Leamington Spa half marathon. It was a very hot day in July and the event got delayed by around an hour because some motorists had ignored some of the road closures along the route. This meant it was only going to get hotter over the next few hours. This was their inaugural event and they had laid on a very tough and hilly course which towards the end took you towards the finish line only then make you do the best part of another mile. The second was the Cannock Chase trail half marathon in June 2019. Again, it was one the hottest days of the year. I don’t think I truly appreciated how difficult the course would be in terms of both the inclines and the descents. I am also not very experienced at running on trails and I learnt how much you need to concentrate about what is in front of you as there were a number of occasions when I turned my ankle or nearly fell over. It is the only time that I was glad that the course was shorter than it was supposed to be as I just wanted the experience to be over.


  1. Have you ever had to take a break from running due to injury?


Yes. I have recently had a 3 month spell out due to an IT band injury I picked up. It is incredibly frustrating to not be able to do something that you are passionate about especially when you see other runners’ achievements on social media during your absence. However, injuries are part of the territory that come with being a runner and the chances are that you are going to pick one up at some stage. All you can to is try and make sure you prepare properly to try avoid your chances of getting injured and if you do get injured, you make sure you seek and follow the appropriate medical advice.


  1. Do you do any other forms of exercise to aid/compliment your running?


I have recently started to do some strength and conditioning training with a personal trainer at my local gym. I wanted to try and aid my recovery from my IT band injury whilst also trying to minimise my chances of picking up further injuries in the future. I am also hoping that it will help improve my running going forwards by giving me a stronger core and legs. I also find it gives me some additional variation to just solely running.


  1. What are your running goals/targets for the next 12-18 months?


My immediate goal is to just get running regularly again and be injury free. I also want to get my fitness back so that I get back to racing again. I have signed up for my first marathon in October 2020 at the Chester marathon so I want to make sure that I can get around in one piece and in a respectable time. Beyond that I would like to set some new PB’s across 5km and 10km as both of my previous PB’s date back to April 2017. I would like to get as close as I can to 20 minutes over 5km and as close as I can to 45 minutes over 10km. If I could get close to 1:45 in a half marathon that would also be amazing.


  1. What advice would you give to a someone who is thinking of taking up running?


If your thinking of taking up running then I would advise either starting with a local couch to 5km group or to go along to your local parkrun. I am a big advocate of parkrun so I highly recommend it as great starting point where you can walk, jog or run at your own pace amongst some of the friendliest and most supportive people you could hope to meet.

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