Why I run
Please allow me to introduce myself…
I am Andrew Greenfield.
I am a decidedly average endurance RUNUR.
A middle-aged, mid-pack finisher who embraces the ride, all the while meeting new friends along the way.
I have a genuine love of road and trail running that extends decades.
A military veteran, I’ve walked, hiked, and ran across mountains quite a few times. Sometimes with kit, sometimes without.
Although I once had to do it for work (at times in arduous circumstances), it was then as now, never a chore more often enjoyed than not.
To get where we are today though it obviously had to begin somewhere.
A seed was planted years ago.
In the mid-1980s I was in senior school (high school) and, although I played in goal for the school year ‘B’ soccer team, I also trained with a local kids soccer club one evening a week (that’s all there was by way of training for us in those days) in hopes of turning out for my age group team on a weekend.
The trouble is, there was only one goalkeeping spot so chances were limited to say the least.
In truth, the other goalie was much better than me and part of the ‘clique’.
The ‘in crowd’ always played. Every week. Without fail.
In addition to being not the best goalkeeper available, I was also someone who didn’t move that much either. I guess I would have been about 12 years old at that time.
I lagged behind on laps of the playing field during warm up runs, either through lack of motivation from constantly being at the back and wheezing or simply not being quick enough.
During one training session, the coach (who shall remain nameless), sidled up to the goal I was in with the ever-present cigarette balancing on his bottom lip, and began talking. I was concentrating on the end-of-training game we were playing and trying to listen to him at the same time. I don’t remember much of the conversation but I can clearly recall him telling me I’d not get a game unless I was fitter. His final words uttered through a fug of cigarette smoke being ‘shape up or ship out’.
I remember at the time being crestfallen. I was a sensitive kid and those words really stung.
I went home and tried to process what he’d said to me.
Even at that age, the incredulity of an overweight smoker telling me I was unfit was too much for this impressionable almost adolescent to bear.
Now we’re years down the line, I’ll be kind and say it was perhaps his way of telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t part of the gang, and wouldn’t get even a sniff of on-field action while he was the coach.
Not registering the not good enough (I wasn’t) and focusing on the not fit enough (I wasn’t) I thought ‘F**k you’. I’ll show you’.
That was one of the first times I’m conscient of my pigheadedness showing up.
My naïveté convinced me that all I had to do was get fitter and I’d get some game time.
So I set about doing just that.
I don’t like liars or cheats. I never have and can’t imagine I ever will.
If someone tells me something or takes the time to explain something to me, I’ll usually take it at face value and act on it. Even today.
The quest to get some time on the pitch had begun. I ran two or three times a week, lengthening and / or varying the distances each time.
Although equally as happy around people, I quickly found the long runs enjoyable and reveled in being alone. Although happy in a group, it was (and still is) so calming.
I do remember the coach passing me in his battered old car one weekend morning.
I can imagine him thinking ‘sh*t, this is going to backfire, he’s getting fit, what am I going to do?’
Eventually, after a few weeks, I was not only able to keep up with the rest of the squad on the warm up runs, I often found myself at the front.
I’d done what the coach had asked me to do – and more!
I stuck things out to the end, finally getting to put the much coveted team kit on in the last game of the season. My goalkeeping skills not required, as a late second-half substitute I made my (in my mind) much anticipated debut on the left wing. I ran around asking for and not getting the ball for the few minutes the coach had so graciously (read reluctantly) afforded me for my fitness efforts (perhaps from pressure from other parents).
That was my first and last appearance for that particular team. I think I touched the ball once while it was in play. The running about part was the best bit.
At the time I didn’t think much of him, but if I do ever see that coach again I’d more than likely shake his hand for unknowingly lighting a fire within me.
His dismissive attitude started me off with my love affair with running and at the same time pushed me on to the long, long road to becoming a decidedly average RUNUR.
Never underestimate the words of a long curly-haired, slightly overweight, smoker who happens to be a soccer coach.
Today, almost forty years later, I enjoy running long distances over mountains when possible.
Another life lesson with the realization being that motivation can come from anywhere at any time.
So why do you run?
How did you get into it?
Enquiring minds want to know.
See you on the roads and trails somewhere.
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