“There isn’t anything worse than running – at least, that’s what I’ve believed my whole life so far.
I decided to take up cross-country with my school and that’s where I truly decided that running wasn’t for me.”
Name: Brandon Dobson
Staff or Student: Student
Studying: Geography (BSc), School of Geographical Sciences
Year of Study: Third year
Additional roles: Lead Activator for Sport, Exercise and Health
There isn’t anything worse than running – at least, that’s what I’ve believed my whole life so far. I have always been very active and played sports that required me to run but at the age of 10 I decided to take up cross-country with my school and that’s when I truly decided that running wasn’t for me.
I wasn’t a terrible runner, but I was certainly no Mo Farah, often placing somewhere between 20th and 60th out of 150 to 200 people. I have always been competitive and given myself a hard time when I’ve not performed as well as I think I should, and as such, I often walked away from many sports when I had experienced a bad day. In running, this competitive streak manifested in trying to run long–distances far too quickly, which is why I struggled so much – my technique was entirely wrong.
More than 12 years have passed since, and while my attitude towards my performance has relaxed significantly, my hatred of running competitively has remained. When I heard about the Bristol Run Series, my first thought was “why would anyone want to do that, I can’t think of anything more boring than running for hours”. Nonetheless, lockdown took its toll and I have become significantly less active, from doing some form of fitness every day to now only getting active around once a week. The effects were noticeable; my physical wellbeing suffered and my mental wellbeing was far from where it should be – I was unhappy. In desperate need to get myself back into shape – physically and mentally – I did something quite shocking I signed up for the whole Bristol Run Series.
With my fitness lower than it has been for years, this would be no walk in the park (no pun intended). Luckily my fiancée, who also hates running, decided she would join me on my journey. We downloaded a couch to 5K app, and with comedian Sarah Millican as our coach, we set off.
The first run was a killer, I won’t pretend otherwise, but I was surprised at how quickly my fitness levels began to recover. Within the first few runs I was actually starting to enjoy myself!
It definitely helps having a running partner. We train together at a very steady pace, with headphones in, and Spotify playlists turned up loud. We also set our route in advance. Planning a route you like makes the run far more enjoyable than running laps. We also use these runs to see more of the city and enjoy the good weather.
One thing which has personally helped me is investing in the right gear. Decent running shoes are essential, as is a running armband for my phone, key, and headphone case. There is nothing worse than being constantly aware of things in your pockets which could fall out and break at any minute. I’ve also treated myself to new activewear, which isn’t essential but improves the experience.
My advice? If you think you hate running, find yourself a running partner, put some great music on, plan a route, and take it really slow! Like me, you might just be surprised at how enjoyable running can actually be!