Running and Life – Howard Verran

running and life

Age: 48

Summer Cross Country

How did you first get into running?

I’m literally a lockdown runner. In March 2020, like so many people, I had to work at home. I’ve always struggled with my weight, mostly through eating the wrong types of food. I knew that, being confined to home, it could go one of two ways for me as far as my health was concerned. I gave the Joe Wicks workouts a go then, one morning, I announced to my wife Clare – ‘I’m going for a run’. She said ‘you what?’ and just laughed.

I set off from our house in Kingsland and managed to run about a kilometre and thought – I can’t do this! I went back home and told Clare that I was never doing something as stupid as that again!

Then someone mentioned the NHS couch to 5k App. I gave it a go. I think it’s a 9 week programme but I did it for about 3 weeks and thought ‘I can’t wait another 6 weeks – I’ll give it a go now!’ By then I had bought a Garmin and decided to run 2.5k from home, turn around and run back. I managed it in 44 minutes. It took me a week to recover but it got me started.

After that I pretty much started running every day and building up the distance too. I did 6k, then 7k, ate better and the weight just dropped off. By the time we came out of the first lockdown I had lost a couple of stone. When we started meeting up again people honestly thought I had been ill because I lost so much weight!

In the summer I decided 10k was the goal, it was another psychological barrier gone when I managed to do it.

The job I was doing was very stressful and the running was really helping. Whenever I could I would go out for a run and just feel a lot better. I did all my running on my own though.

Then, in February last year a new guy started at work. He had been a runner for a long time and said that I should consider joining a club. I gave it a couple of weeks then I saw Leominster Runners and started running with them. Sue Purvin was running a bit with Leominster and persuaded me to give Croft a go. My first session was at Wigmore School and I joined just in time to do the first Leinthal Starkes handicap race.

I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy the social side. When I joined Croft I had never run a race or done parkrun before. The first time I ever put a race number on was at The Hereford 5k series in the summer. The friendship and camaraderie at races is wonderful. It’s not something that I had ever thought about or expected.

What’s a typical running week for you?

I try to run 4 or 5 times a week. I’ll usually got to parkrun on Saturdays then do a 10k run on Sunday and go to the Croft sessions on Tuesday and Thursday.

Also, because I’ve changed job recently and the company is based in Somerset, I’ve joined Frome Running Club. I’ll go to their training sessions on a Wednesday night if I stay over. They’re mostly a road running club. It’s a really friendly club. I usually run between 20 and 25 miles a week.

What’s in the diary?

Winter Cross Country Series

Hereford Christmas 10k – 28 December

Manchester Marathon – 16th April. My first marathon.

What’s your Most Memorable Run?

I ran the Birmingham Half Marathon in May. It was going to be my longest ever run and I was a bit apprehensive about it. I decided to run the full distance two weeks beforehand to make sure I could do it. It probably wasn’t the best thing to do but on the day I managed to run it in 1:55. I wanted to do under 2hrs so I was very happy with that.

A few weeks after Birmingham I did the Dymock Half Marathon. I think I was a bit ‘gun ho’ and cocky. It was ‘undulating’ and I went out too hard, got the pacing wrong and it bit back big time. I got to about 8 miles and ran out of energy. I walked, shuffled and hobbled to the finish. You live and learn.

Any injuries you’ve struggled with?

Thankfully nothing; I’m injury free. The weight goes up and down but as long as I keep running I know it will be ok.

What do you most love about running?

I love the social side most now – which is a shock to me to be honest. I also enjoy seeing people working hard and getting the results. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the front or the back – if you put the work in you’ll get better.  I’m a firm believer that if I can get into running at my age and enjoy it anyone can.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a Social Worker by qualification but for the last 12 years have worked in foster care. In my new job I have a staff team of 31 people looking after 150 households. I enjoy it but it’s challenging and can be very stressful. You have to celebrate the success when they come.

I work Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm but in reality I probably work around 60 or 70 hours a week and I’m always on call if something goes awry.

Who do you live with?

With my wife Clare and our two boys – Sam (16) and Will (14). Will’s at Wigmore and Sam’s at Hereford Tech studying Sports Science and development.

Have you any pets?

We don’t have time unfortunately.

Have you any book, film or TV recommendations?

My favourite book of all time is A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. I love his dry sense of humour. I’ve read it 3 times now.

My guilty pleasure is Goggle Box. Maybe it’s because I’m a people watcher. I don’t care whether it’s the celebrity one or regular people, It’s a brilliant show.

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