Name : Daniel Del Piccolo
Age : 39
Strava : https://www.strava.com/athletes/515331
Twitter : @SouthCoastPiper
Website : thepipersbox.co.uk
I’ve found myself involved in numerous comical conversations over the years being asked by family and friends about why I’d want to put myself through the discomfort of a run. I often replay those questions more seriously while out during a hard run – “Why have I decided to go out and do this to myself yet again?” – “What possible reason can I use to justify doing this?” – “I could be relaxing at home, or eating my favourite treat or still lying in bed.” There’s no doubt about it – running is hard. When I started I hated it. So why did I carry on and why have I stuck at it over the years?
The questions above often bounce around a runners mind, especially while the legs are feeling heavy or screaming at you during a tempo run or race. I have found the reasons why I run, and because of those reasons I always feel extremely thankful and fortunate to take part. Running has become a permanent (I hope!) part of my life. When I’m not out on a run I am planning the next one. When I am not planning the next one I am analysing previous activities and often looking at what other people in the running community are up to, obtaining ideas and training techniques to help me improve. Below are a few reasons why I run, and reasons I’ll give whenever I’m questioned by friends who look at me as if I am completely mad. I admit often they really don’t want to hear it and they think it’s a complete snooze fest – I get that completely! – but I have clear reasons why I do it nonetheless.
1. Contrast of Comfort and Discomfort.
I spend a lot of time running each week. Some of that running is comfortable but a lot of it is uncomfortable too.
What I have found most interesting over the years is just how much of a contrast this gives me in every day life. The more discomfort I endure, the more enjoyable the comforts get. As an example, having a coffee at my desk at work during the day is no big deal and I often gulp it down with no real thought. Having one during the day after a long run is absolutely delicious and so relaxing. Widening the gap in experiences between comfortable and uncomfortable really heightens the senses in a good way. OK, so my feet or legs may not see it the same way, but still. It gives me a natural sense of being more mindful about every day things.
2. My Mind Slows.
When I am out on the road or trails and my body is in full motion, my mind is at its most still. Running really lets my mind untangle itself with the chaotic life styles we seem to have. I really believe that running can be a problem solver and a healer for the mind and spirit. There can be times when it brings you down a bit too, but in general a run will sweep up those crumb filled corners of my mind. Everything that I have going on in my life comes to a stand still and I can spend the time reflecting upon things. When running with company I have found this is even more apparent and I’ve had some really great deep conversations with people. Thoughts and words seem to structure themselves better and so much positivity and reflection gets brought out. Running has got me through really tough times both in my personal life and also work life. Many good ideas sprout during a long run, and I’ve found answers and solutions to work problems that I may not have had if I’d been at my desk or tied up in a meeting or even more work!
3. There’s No Better Community
When I first started out, I knew just a few of my friends who ran. Roll on a few years and now I know so many more. The running community is amazing. As someone who has had a number of other hobbies over the years, running is really unique in so many ways. Other runners are so incredibly supportive of each other, and many runners give up their own training and race time to help others start out or reach their goals. When I first started I had no idea of just how many different clubs and groups there were. In Portsmouth we have a load of different organised and informal groups that run each week and all of those groups are open for anyone to join in. This makes it really inclusive for anyone of any age to start out and be a part of it. The running community here is made up of formal clubs, informal running groups, parkrun events for adults and children, local race directors putting events on all through the year. We have Great Run Local here in Portsmouth, family based running clubs and now our very own running shop too! And it just keeps growing and getting better. New pockets of runners are regularly beginning to pop up. That is evidence enough that it works well and encourages people to start being more active.
I have made some great friendships over the years with other runners and really enjoy hooking up with other runners all the time. I guarantee that the conversation always heads straight to the running topics, but it’s a topic we all have in common. There’s always something to learn from other people and other runners are always willing to share knowledge and experiences with each other. I keep in touch with running friends through the weeks now and try to meet up whenever we can stitch the right times together. At work this seems to be the best because we’re all there and ready to do at the same time!
4. So Many Experiences
With hobbies, serious or not, come great experiences and opportunities. I have another serious hobby in music, which I turned into a part time business. Like it, the running has opened up so many new experiences in my life. My first miles were an experience that I will never forget. I used to meet up with a couple of friends on the seafront in Portsmouth every Sunday morning and we’d attempt to run from the Eastney pool to the Pier without stopping (rarely achieving that, but it was fun!). Those mornings were amazing and I’ll look back on just those first miles with great fondness. Roll on and I found myself taking place in my first ever Great South Run. For those that have done it, you know how fantastic it is taking part. The buzz is an experience for sure. Move forward a few years and I found myself running my first parkrun, half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon. Each one of those events have some fantastic memories and experiences attached that I’d never had on my own as a non runner. I’ve got to see so much more of the country and explored so many routes and paths, and gained some incredible knowledge. I got to share in the highs and lows of my first 100k race with a good friend of mine which I will never forget and we are now planning and training for our first 100 mile race this year. Being a runner has brought the opportunity to help see the other side of things too. I have been fortunate enough to volunteer for our local senior and junior parkruns too. I highly recommend experiencing some volunteering sessions and getting to see what goes on behind the scenes of an event. It’s enlightening!
5. Quality Family Time
As we all know, running can be a very selfish sport. Selfish in the way that it can require plenty of training and racing time, minimising time with family and friends. Many partners, children and families find themselves waiting at various points along various routes, or doing pickups from finish areas at the end of races. I know my own family have done that a few times before. But it doesn’t have to always be seen that way. Running is something that anyone and everyone can enjoy, including the kids! My family really look forward to spending a few hours outside every week at Eastney junior parkrun. It’s a routine that we are really used to, and the kids know that when they don’t want to run they can volunteer or simply watch and cheer on the other children. And when the running is done we are already outside and get to kick a ball about or run around. It’s fresh air and before you know it you’ve had a good few quality hours outside. My kids do enjoy coming to see the end of races as well and have run through the finish area with me before after a few long distances races. Those are good quality memories that will be remembered forever. My little ones have even helped out at Southsea parkrun before and also both run/walked it as well. In one of those runs I have to confess with holding a packet of sweets in front of my kid to keep her going to the finish, but she did it with full smiles!
6. Confidence Building
With all the above considered, there’s a lot of really positive stuff that comes from running. Whether it’s the experiences of exploring outdoors, breaking a new distance PB, cleansing the mind, running with others, or being able to enjoy every day comforts more. For me, all of that good stuff builds confidence because I feel like I’m always achieving. Pushing yourself to get up early and get out for those runs leaves you at the end of the day with a sense of satisfaction, which in turn lead to a much more positive mind set. Now, I’m not achieving what others may call great but it’s about how it makes me feel and the effect it has on me inside. And with that, comes the confidence to share and get others out and enjoying running too.