Stopsley Strider Club Member Profile – Martin Smith
General sales manager for Volkswagen Bedford
Did you do sport at school?
I hated sport at school, I have always struggled with my weight, and by the time I was in my early teens I tipped the scales at over 16stone. This really restricted me at the time, and I often made my excuses to get out of PE.
When did you start running & why?
I started in March 2015, initially at inspire Gym in a bid to loose weight.
I had always been inspired by the London marathon and decided it was time to do something about my weight.
At around the same time, I was offered a bet by a friend that I couldn’t run a marathon. The competitive side of me decided ‘I could do this’ and I accepted the bet!
I was 21 stone, and seriously over weight. I smoked 30 cigarettes a day and drank far too much alcohol in a week. Not really a ‘Picture of health’ !
I started using the ‘couch to 5k’ app on the treadmill and over a 6 week period (I missed out some of the walking sessions) I managed my first 5k run!
In May 2015 I decided to start road running as I was bored of the gym. The mornings were light by that stage, so I decided to give it a go on the fields outside inspire.
I found it totally different, and struggled tremendously. I was still smoking 30 a day and my breathing struggled with the cold morning air.
I decided to give myself a target, and signed up for the luton half marathon ! This spurred me on to complete the 5k app outdoors, and gave me the ambition to keep going.
I completed my 1st 10k in August 2015 and was very proud of myself. I had lost a lot of weight and tipped the scales at 17.5 stone.
I carried on running and dieting, and very nervously awaited the Luton Half Marathon.
Then I took a knock back, and got turned down for the London Marathon 2016
I immediately discussed it with my friend that I had a bet with and decided to run the Brighton marathon instead.
I ran the Luton half marathon in 2hrs 18 minutes,I was 15st 8lb on race day and proud of my time and achievement.
Secretly, I though I could “do this!” And carried on pushing my running into the dark winter months. Luckily, whilst I was running the Luton half I noticed the running group “Stopsley Striders”. I thought they looked very organised and thought they could help me. I emailed Nathan (chairman at the time) and asked what I had to do to join.
I went to a Thursday night run, initially very nervous, but put right at ease from the moment I walked in.
I loved it – although my 1st session I went out with Nathan’s group (the fastest group) to which I regretted ?
This didn’t put me off, and I came back fighting on the Monday. Lorraine helped me run a 10k and I fell in love with the club.
I gave up smoking full time cold turkey on Boxing Day 2015 and now only ever smoke the occasional cigarette if I have a drink (I know I know I’ll stop !)
I ran the Brighton marathon in April 2016 in a time of 4hrs 36 minutes, and was chuffed. I had raised £1000 for cancer research and also won my bet – (this also went to my charity) ????? I managed to get my weight down to 14stone 3lb for race day too ?
I then had the running bug – I loved the marathon and immediately signed up to Bournemouth marathon 2016 in October.
I ran a total of 17 half marathons, 2 marathons, 2 x 20 mile races and a tough mudder in 2016. I finally got to my target weight of 13stone in July 2016.
As I write this, I am in my tapering period for the Brighton Marathon 2017 which I hope to achieve a new PB, albeit a stone heavier ?
What made you come to Stopsley Striders?
The motivation to achieve my goal of running a marathon.What is your favourite run/course?
Brighton marathon- the atmosphere is electric. I loved it .
What is your best run?
The Welwyn half marathon 2016 – a PB of 2:00hrs.35 seconds – I could kill the 2hr pacer ?
What was your worst run?
Finchley 20 miler 2017 – I hit the wall and got seriously dehydrated.
What was your most memorable run?
Completing the couch to 5k app – I was so chuffed !
Do you like cross-country?
Hate it ! But I have run a few now and enjoy representing my club.
Assuming you have spare time, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I have 2 boys and a daughter that keep both Karen and I very busy. My youngest plays football for 2 luton teams and is in the 1st division within his league- thus, this means travel all over the county to various matches.
Hence, I don’t often get much time spare, apart for the running.
How many times a week do you run?
Currently 6 days a week with the marathon training – but normally 4 nights a week
What is your average weekly mileage?
Currently 45-50 miles a week – but will decrease to about 25 in normal training
Do you do speed work or specialist training?
Yes, I attend the track session on a Tuesday when I get home from work in time.
Do you follow a diet regime before competing? I don’t follow a specific diet, but I do try to watch what I eat. Shame I don’t have the same discipline when Guinness is on offer ?
What piece of your kit do you think is the most important?
A decent pair of running trainers is essential. I have recently gone over what I should have ran on a single pair of trainers (about 700 miles !) and my toes are now suffering! I will ensure they are changed at a maximum of 400 miles next time.
Who is your hero?
Richard Branson – He puts his staff first which I think is the right attitude to management.
What do you like about the club?
It’s a very friendly, informative and sociable club. You can represent them as much or as little as you feel appropriate, without feeling pressured. It has improved me significantly from a 13min mile to 8:30min mile with hopefully more to offer.
What would be your advice to a new club member?
Don’t feel nervous- join us it’s a brilliant club, aimed at all abilities.
What is your running song to get you over that line?
I find it easier to run without music, I find the rhythm of my own foot steps hypnotic and relaxing (especially in the rain ☔️)