Alex's run journey
By Sophie on 6th April 2023 Runner Profiles
We asked Alex if he’d share his run journey with us and his first response was “why? I'm not very exciting”. To which I said we’re not after exciting, we’re after honest. Because who doesn’t love a good, honest humbling story.
So we kick off with Alex’s initial experience with running and how he found it.
Running used to be the annual village cross country 10km run back in the UK. I started running it when I was about 10, showing up full of energy and excitement.
Other than that I didn’t do much running or any trail running until our bootcamp instructor started taking us out along different parts of the South Downs Way back home about 10 years ago.
Since then, I’ve not looked back, and as far as I’m concerned I’ve found my happy place. It was also a great way to explore and get out for a couple of hours whilst having the promise of a beer at the end.
10 years later Alex is now a pretty experienced trail runner and has completed a bunch of cool missions and events which he shares with us…
My first big mission in New Zealand was running the Kepler track over a couple of days. Having never really been in a big mountain environment before it was totally mind-blowing to be running along ridgelines and plodding through thick forests. It was great and I was hooked.
The more trail running I seemed to do, the more perks I seemed to find. Got fit, got stronger, made friends, and got to see parts of the world that not many people would ever get to see.
I’ve done a few of the NZ iconic events: The Routeburn Classic, Tarawera 50, Poronui Passage, and Hobbiton Half all stand out, as does The Possum Night Run which was totally particularly wonderful — trail running in the dark is a whole new level of fun (plus you can’t see how big the hills are) and even though you couldn’t see the views, it was extraordinary. Highly recommend it.
Injuries are the bane of most runners' existence, right? Alex is no different…
I've spent a lot of time on physio tables or just grumbling about injuries and putting off going to see physios. Knees, ankles, hips, hamstrings, and calves (I know, that’s a lot isn’t it) always seem to get me.
It’s when the injuries hit that I think maybe I should stop running and do something less 'painful or destructive' to my body but then I come to my senses and realise I love the trails too much. I'd also get so much envy when walking on a trail and watching others hoon on by having a great time running.
I don't deal with injuries particularly well and often rush back far too quickly. I missed two races the past year with injuries (The Wild (that wasn't) and Waitomo Caves). That wouldn't have happened if I'd listened a little better to my body, a lesson to us all there.
I've never had an injury that's ever put me out for more than a few months but I've accepted it as part of running now. There's always going to be something that hurts or aches or niggles - but it's worth it.
I’m learning to be patient with my body, I do way more prehab exercises now than before and am just generally grateful for what running teaches me about myself.
Running groups are an interesting topic with runners, some love them, some are not so keen. Here’s Alex’s take on them.
I currently run once a week with the Perimeter Coaching group in Tauranga. Before joining I'd never run with a club or group where sessions are planned and specific, but I love it.
There are some really good (and very fast) runners in the group and I was a bit intimidated initially (who isn’t when joining a run group) but everyone is super friendly and I've made some good mates. We all have different goals and it's certainly pushed me harder in some sessions than ever before. Lots of hill reps and lots of hill sprints that are just more fun (sort of fun) with others suffering with you.
But my initial intro to group runs was with a lovely bunch, on Mauao every Monday, and by running with them it introduced me to like-minded people who are now great friends of mine. Thanks Mount Mondays.
5k, 10k, half, full, ultra. Alex tells us his sweet spot.
A half marathon (trail of course) is where I’m most happy. I can run hard enough to be whacked by the end but know it will be over generally in under 2 hours.
I've yet to decide if I like marathons and ultra distances. I've done two 50kms now and sworn both times I'd never do anything so stupid again but as the dust settles there's always a calling to do another and given some of the races around NZ I'm pretty sure I'll do another one or two. I have a terrible rubber arm.
It's funny how the body and mind adapt to different distances. I remember taking the Monday off work after my first trail half because I thought I'd be knackered and now that sort of distance has just become a normal training run or adventure. Which I feel pretty lucky to be able to do.
I don't mind a 5km speedy run now and again but much prefer hitting the trails for an hour or 3. Plus a speedy 5k usually means running on the road and I extremely dislike running on the road.
I asked Alex what he’s like as a runner, and here’s what I got.
I’m probably one of those annoying, slightly too-chatty cheerful runners who just rabbits on about all sorts of nonsense.
I'm quite competitive with myself, I certainly never expect to win any races but I like to give my all and some days it just doesn't work out and some days I’m proud as punch with myself. I'll always be sure to stop and take a few snaps regardless though if I see something great.
For me, the races and trail running are all about exploring, adventure, and seeing amazing things under my own steam.
Oh, and did I mention I hate running on roads! Borrrrring!
What else should we know about you, Alex?
All-time fave run?
Has to be across the highlands in Scotland - Sorry New Zealand
Most loved NZ region to run in?
What’s your go to post-run food?
Hazy Beer… and a pie
What’s on your running bucket list?
Paparoa and Milford tracks
Best thing about the Wild Things community?
I love the shared routes, the willingness of others to offer up advice, and for total strangers to meet up and have a good run.
We love seeing how the people of our Wild Things community found trail running. Such different journeys but ultimately with the same destination.
Thanks for sharing, Alex.