Do You Dream Of Being An Elite Runner?

It’s not the typical kind of thing you dream about being as a kid when you grow up is it?

However, I am sure with the increased media coverage of athletics since London 2012 more and more kids look up to athletes like Usain Bolt and Mo Farah in the same way they do to famous superstar footballers.

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But being a long distance running doesn’t quite have the same glamour and appeal as being a footballer who trains for a few hours every day, earns millions of pounds and gets to live a glamorous celebrity lifestyle does it?

Dreaming of becoming a runner 

I can’t imagine many people dreamt of being a runner as a youngster when they grew up in the same way that children dream of being astronauts or firemen.

Being a runner is just something that happens in later life.

After all, if when you were young you announced something like, “When I grow up I want to spend my free time miles away from home on my own, I want to push myself so that I am in pain for days after and I want to give up relaxing weekends for being out in the cold and the rain”, your teachers and parents would be a little concerned!

I am pretty sure when I was a child I never wanted to be a runner – but now that I am older though I really want to be a runner!

Not just a runner that goes out after work and trains for an hour or gets up early on Sunday morning for a long run, but a real elite level runner who trains professionally and takes part in international competitions.

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Becoming an elite runner

You tend to think of elite runners you see running the London Marathon in a little over 2 hours, or speeding around the track at the Olympic games in the 10,000m, as being almost a different breed of human being.

They seem to be a unique mix of specific genetics and a lifetime of hard work, commitment combined with a grueling and specific training regime.

Becoming an elite runner is pretty much something you are born as and something you grow into and develop as through a rigorous training programme, from a young child through your development into a fully fledged international adult competitor.

So perhaps being an elite runner is out of reach, or perhaps not…

If you have seen some of the coverage of the recent Commonwealth Games you may have heard about English athlete Steve Way.

His story is pretty amazing as you will read about here.

Basically he was an unfit, 16 stone, smoking, kebab eating layabout who never did any exercise.

But after taking up running to lose weight quickly he realised he had a real natural talent for long distance running and has since gone on to record some seriously fast marathon times as well as becoming the British record holder over 100K.

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Steve’s story is not an isolated case – there are other similar stories of people making the speedy transition from club runner to elite athlete.

Tracey Morris is one such example, as she went from running the London Marathon as a relative fun runner to qualifying for the Athens Olympics.

So perhaps it is possible to almost ‘become’ an elite runner in your adult years?

You never know if you have the natural aptitude for something until you try it, right? 

Since I took up running some 10+ years ago, I have always had the ambition to become an elite runner, to go beyond my current routine of doing half a dozen events a year and fitting my training in around work and personal commitments as I try to chase down PBs.

Indeed, I have long harboured the dream of becoming an elite runner if I was ever lucky enough to win the lottery…

What would you do if you won the lottery?

(I know its called the ‘lotto’ these days but frankly that sound pretty naff, right?!)

So, what would you do if you won a life changing amount of money?

A fairly common topic of conversation amongst most people and the key question posed to every game show contestant where a large cash prize is at stake.

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I have one answer to both of these questions or any similar derivative:

“I want to be a real runner.”

OK, I am already a runner, I have been running for around ten years and usually run around 5 times a week, and to many people my achievements and standards of running are significantly impressive to be considered an above average runner.

But I want to be a real runner.

I would like running to be my profession, my job, and my main focus every day.

By a real runner I mean a professional or at least a semi-professional kind of runner, a Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Haile Gebresailasie, an elite level long distance runner.

Basically I realise my dream of attaining this ambition is pretty much gone.

I am not a skinny long limbed ten year old with a great aerobic capacity with the potential to take the long distance running world by storm.

I am instead a 29 year old regular runner who, although with a lot of passion and enthusiasm for running, unfortunately was not born with any God given talent, not blessed with an ideal running physique or gifted with helpful genetic attributes that have assisted the likes of Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt in their athletic achievements.

However, was I to win a large amount of money, say enough money for me to give up my job, enough money to pursue a passion or a hobby full time then maybe, just maybe, I could reach elite level standard?

At this point I imagine most readers to either laugh in disbelief or start to wonder about the possibilities of not only my claim but their own harboured ambitions.

So after some thought and consideration this would be my plan to try to become an elite runner should I ever become fortunate to win a life changing amount of money.

The Plan

Step 1: Find and hire a coach who could train me to be a successful runner.

The key requirements would basically be that they had some kind of reasonable track record of international success but most importantly believed my ambition was a reality and bought into my dream with the same passion and enthusiasm.

Step 2: Agree with my coach my objectives.

I envisage training with the goal of an Olympic Games, World Championship, or even a European or Commonwealth Games around 2 years in the future.

I assume my only reasonable path to glory would be over Marathon distance as there is no way I could be in any way successful at a shorter distance.

Step 3: Blood, sweat and tears in varying amount as I train morning, noon and night towards my goal.

I have always liked the idea of the mottos that go along the lines of “train, eat, sleep, repeat” and I would think that this would be my life during this intense training period.

Where my wife figures into this lifestyle I am not sure, but I am sure she will be finding her own ways to spend our newly inflated bank balance!

Also, as part of this step, I envisage moving temporarily if not more permanently to a more suitable climate where I can train outdoors more freely away from the restrictions of the British weather and also take part in warm weather and altitude training.

Also key to this step would be hiring additional staff to support my aim, such as some kind of nutritionist and chef, a full time masseuse (I think my wife would insist on this appointment being for a him rather than a her) and perhaps a sports psychologist to help me get into the right mental head space.

Step 4: Set and achieve my objective.

Once my training routine had been established as outlined above and my train, eat, sleep, repeat lifestyle has come into full swing, I would then be able to set the specific goal I was to work towards.

In all reality I know this target is not going to be any kind of World or National record, but I envisage myself working confidently towards the set National qualifying time requirement.

Step 5: Partaking in events to allow me the chance to achieve my qualifying time as described above.

I am sure jet setting to various exotic destinations forms the first stages of most people’s plans when they first win a large amount of money, but this is the only place that International travel comes into my plans.

Unfortunately I cannot even guarantee that the places I would visit to take part in different events would even be in exotic locations, I would just go whether fitted in with my schedule.

Hopefully not too far into Step 5 I would achieve my required time allowing me to be considered for selection for whichever International games I was aiming for.

Then the real fun would start as I would get to travel to the Games as a British athlete, parade in the opening ceremony, take part in competition, sleep in the Athlete’s Village, prance around in the team tracksuit, and enjoy all the other trappings and requirements of being an International athlete.

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As I have already said, I know I am never going to be a household big star name such as a Mo Farah, but all I am interested in is the chance to train on a professional basis as an athlete and to make running my job for a short period of time.

In all honesty, I know it’s never going to happen, but then on the other hand I could make it happen on my own without the money windfall if I had enough dedication and commitment.

Anyway, I hope this article has made you dream a little bigger.

All I need now is to be asked, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” by a survey and see if they have a tick box for “Become a real runner”.

P.S. The beauty of this scenario is that if it ever did happen and materialise, as I have outlined, the story would surely be so good it would be worthy for it to be made into a film?

A film which would then earn me more money which I could then spend on all the traditional lottery winning type things such as fast cars and cruises, clever idea hey?!

Over to you

So what do you think?

Are my ideas just crazy or have you ever had any similar ambitions?

Let me know what your running ambitions are and if you have ever dreamed of being an elite runner. 

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