It’s a funny old thing…

Posted: 06/02/2013 in Food, Journal, Running

…what you can get up to while running.

When I started running, 15 months ago, I regularly did the following:

  • Enjoyed a cigarette, well, enjoyed several, thank you, don’t mind if I do. You could almost call it a habit, and no one would be arguing.
  • Liked a drink – a beer or two for preference, though a spot of red wine wouldn’t go amiss – did you mention a wee dram, well, rude not to.
  • Drank coffee – a lot. Like coffee was being removed from sale tomorrow, or like a magic draught that would give me Popeye-like strength.
  • Ate cheese. What? No, I know that’s odd, but I mean dairy generally – cheese, milk, creme fraiche, let’s include eggs in there too.

Ok, so by the last one you’re likely scratching your head and mumbling “hippy” under your breath, or you may even be shouting it at the screen, who knows?

But this whole running thing, especially the knowledge that by being healthier I enjoy running more and can run more, has got me thinking a bit more than previously, and given a bit more motivation that I’ve had previously. So, in order of stopping…


I’ve given these buggers up before, and then started again. I like to smoke, it’s very, very pleasurable. It’s got me through some tricksy times in life, and we’re old friends. However, when you run and your lungs burn (even though you can keep going) it’s less fun.

I stopped smoking on 21st December 2012. My computer screen has a little widget that lets me know that it’s now “1 month and 16 days since you stopped ferkin’ smerkin'”. It’s not a special sweary-pidgin counter, you can enter the phrase yourself, and it made me laugh at day two and three.

But look at it this way – I ran and smoked for 13 and a bit months and completed the Kielder Marathon as a smoking runner, so it wasn’t like it was rendering me unable to run.

However, I now find that I don’t wheeze (so much), don’t cough, generally feel a bit better served in the oxygen department. My Parkrun times have improved quite a bit, as has my average pace, both of which I take to be a good sign. I also haven’t put loads of weight on, which is good, and probably due to the extra running I now get out for as I’m less knackered and don’t need to find the time to smoke anymore.


I never meant to stop drinking, honest. I’ve always enjoyed a beer at home on a night, maybe a couple if it’s a weekend, and the occasional bottle of wine. No harm, no foul, it’s not like it’s an addiction or anything, right? Well, I had a couple of days around the middle of January where I didn’t have any beer in the house. So I didn’t drink. Drank lots of tea, but that’s very British and so absolutely fine.

Then another couple of days passed, and soon I realised I hadn’t had a beer for a week. OK, that’s a novelty, couldn’t tell you when that was last the case.

So, the first widget was joined by a second widget, and this one currently reads “25 days since you last had a drink…”. See, I’ve run out of the funny text already for these counters. So that’ll be 28 days on Saturday, let’s call it a month.

It’s become a bit of a game now, how long can I actually go without a drink? Well, unless I go out for some do, I can’t say – I don’t feel like I need a drink, though I’m not sure I ever really did. Ok, maybe a little.


This is getting a bit niche now – and I haven’t actually stopped drinking coffee, just at work, so really that’s me down to one cup a day, when I get up. It’s not for any need to stop, or any perceived problem, again it’s turned into a bit of a game now. I do feel a little more alert the past week or so since I’ve been playing this game, but I think it’s too early to tell if that’s just a passing phase, unrelated to the caffeine.

Cheese, and the other dairy produce. And eggs.

So, in the last week or two, I’ve also gone semi-vegan. What the flip does that mean? Well, I haven’t had any cheese, and milk, and eggs, or anything that noticeably has any of those things in it. But I haven’t checked labels.

Ok, so I checked some labels afterwards and found out there was milk in some of those things, but I haven’t knowingly eaten anything cheesy, like Wotsits.

I’ve finessed some of the evening meals – my chilli wraps had neither cheese nor sour cream in them. That may not be finessing, it may be simplifying, on reflection.

I think I’m heading from the safe harbour of vegetarianism out into the choppy breakers of vegan life. I don’t suspect it will be simple, I reckon I may fall in the water a few times, but hey, like the running it’s the journey that counts.

But what does all this have to do with running, apart from the smoking bit?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

I reckon I’m now fitter, healthier and lighter than at any point in my adult life, and probably my childhood once I grew to my current weight. I’ve often joked that while I may want my body to be a temple, it’s more like a tin shack, but I think that may be slowly changing. And really it’s all down to running – not only has it helped in the getting fitter bit, but it also motivates the other bits, the being kinder to my body and the bit where I realise that just because I enjoy buying and then eating a pack of supermarket size-of-your-head freshly baked cookies, it isn’t what I actually want to do. I could get all conversational and talk about how I feel better in my own body, how I’m onto my second re-purchase of suits due to losing weight, and they’re getting a little roomy to be honest, but if we go down that road then I’ll need to put up before and after pictures, and I’m not sure we’re ready for that sort or excitement. Suffice to say that I needed a new microfleece top, and used to buy XL no questions asked. I tried on an L, wasn’t sure, looked in the mirror – is that fitting right, does it look a bit strange? Right enough, I needed an M to get a good fit. I don’t think I’ve ever bought medium sized clothes, not ever. It was all I could do not to point out to the lady at the till that yes, it is the right size, I know it’s hard to believe, it caught me off guard too, but it is correct. 

I’m also seeing more of the world. Granted, that’s more of the world of North Tyneside at the moment, as I plod around the borough in increasingly intricate webs to get the mileages I’m after, but it just goes to show where you can get to if you try (Ok , that may be ‘Blyth’ at the moment, but I’m working on it).

Phew, this was only a wee post to mention all the things I’ve given up, but it’s turned into something of a monster, eh? Better stop now before we get onto the subject of more efficient digestive tracts, I think…

  1. dja75 says:

    Good work there sounds like we are following the same fitness regime as well, though I gave up smoking years ago and still drinking, a bit anyway humorous blog though keep it going, go on the VCAC 🙂

  2. Thanks David! Not really seeing any difference for the veganism, though it is early days yet – it was more of an ethical thing, I reckon, though driven by the fact that I’ve started to find it difficult to eat things that are recognisably eggs, milk and cheese (just need to work on my don’t-ask-don’t-look policy in relation to packets with ingredient lists). I know I’m going to be a proper nightmare for a meal out, especially with the not drinking, but that’s part of the fun – may have to allow myself a glass of wine or two. Going by all the vegan endurance athletes out there, the evidence seems to speak for itself for going whole-hog on cutting out dairy – I also read an article about animal fat being a concentrated source of dioxins, which doesn’t sound like a good plan.

    Yay for the Vegetarian Cycling & Athletic Club – vegan or not I’m sticking with the gold and green.

  3. Michael Telfer says:

    Nice work Dave, I always thought you had a passing resemblance to Stephen King (if you squint) and it turns out you write like him too – but no harm, no foul. Lets just hope you’re better at avoiding oncoming traffic!

    I’ve been struggling to get the trainers on this year, but as ever your blog will hopefully inspire me to do a few miles this weekend. You in for any other races than Blaydon?

    Have a beer though, do people that don’t drink live longer or does it just seem like it?

  4. Good for you. I gave up smoking years ago, and I loved smoking. Totally addicted to coffee so no chance there. I gave up alcohol in January to try and loose some of the holiday weight. It didn’t work afte three weeks so I’m back to my IPA.
    I don’t think I can go vegetatian or Vegan. I have cut back on eating meat due to cost and I think eating less eat is more healthy.
    You have really changed your life over the past year or so! Cheers.

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