Running – A hobby of mine

Recently I’ve had the idea to write a little about me, my hobbies and experiences with the hope of adding a more personal side to the blog. A hobby of mine, which has been rather persistent over the long term has been running. I started in about 2004 when I was 13 and the interest has continued, even with some big wanes when in patches of several years I ran little or did not run at all.

I believe that running is great for various reasons, although I don’t believe so much that mega-long runs are as necessary as I once thought. Positives for me include

  • Being able to explore some amazing routes and sights at various times of year (although I’ve usually found it best in spring/summer)
  • Increased physical health – through better mood especially after a run when ‘endorphins’ kick in… which is linked with
  • Increased mental health and wellbeing plus
  • Increased ability at other sports, and even in tests/work etc
  • Better self-discipline – seeing a long run or difficult intervals through to the end helped me mentally, especially in my mid-teens when I took it probably most seriously.

There have been years that, for various reasons I have done less or given it up altogether, but it seems to usually find it’s way back. There have been other times when, after gathering momentum with it I have entered races/competitions which has been a fun way to challenge myself, although if I take it too seriously it loses it’s enjoyment.

Anyways in short, how I got into it. I was about 13 and football mad at that age but had not been extremely fit – Although I wasn’t unfit either I had finished in the bottom half of my school cross country race. In the summer, school P.E. was athletics and I remember one of my classmates who was an amazing footballer then finishing miles ahead of everyone in the middle distance races (800, 1500m) and wondering how cool it’d be running that fast. Then the Athens Olympics started and I was sort of inspired. That was when I started going for jogs and increasing the distance bit by bit. I wasn’t great at first but I enjoyed doing it, especially reaching a milestone of running distance: 1 mile, then 2, then reaching 3 and then 4. I enjoyed the progressing so much so that I joined my local athletic club (Eastbourne Rovers) and by the start of the next academic year I found myself a lot fitter albeit a little thin and it went on from there.

Getting fitter, and somewhat faster over middle distance/cross country after doing it at school the year before really inspired me and I surprised myself by the distance milestones and how much that actually affected my athletic ability. I just thought how good it would be to run fast, and enjoyed doing it not necessarily striving to do it but I got the bug so to speak. By the next year, when I was 14/15 (2005) school athletics P.E. came around and my times had notably reduced. I had come second in the school in the 1500m at sports day and also second in the year in the school cross country race, which still makes me really proud with the improvement I had made (the classmate who had partly inspired me to run sadly had gone off the rails around this time and was suspended regularly so didn’t run.). I was just a tad behind the first place runner in both races and was now among the very quickest in the year, so at this time I was really inspired to see how far I could take it. I ran fairly competitively until the age of 16/17 (I even won a race, a local U15 cross country event) when I started getting a little lazy and rebellious and sadly gave it up practically altogether.

It was at Birmingham University in the end of my first year when I picked it up again (2010/11), and I was really slow at first but gradually improved again and stuck at it until I graduated getting more and more into it. Birmingham was a great place to explore on foot and is a top sports university, so again my inspiration increased the more I ran, and I’m really glad I rediscovered this hobby again there. I joined the running club and towards my final year there in 2013 I had got as fast if not faster than I had ran in my teens! It’s not just that though, I met some great people through running there and it was helpful for my confidence at university, not to mention I was fortunate enough to explore some amazing places and sights I never would have found in Birmingham (parks, reservoirs, the canals, old industry buildings and much of the central town).

Although this is a lengthy piece I have enjoyed sharing it and I hope you have enjoyed reading it, too!

Josh Zahangir


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