First person: 'I went from slob to marathon man'

Rory Coleman, 46

I was always a happy-go-lucky-character. I grew up on a farm and never wanted for anything. Everything was pretty perfect, until I left home. After A-levels, I went to study photography at university in nearby Derby. It was a shock living on my own, and I started to grow out of control. I'd picked the wrong course, and rather than facing up to that, I drank far too much at the uni bar for several months.

I soon dropped out, and met my wife-to-be. I started work in the print business, which meant lots of long, boozy lunches, and my wife and I would then drink a lot in the evenings and on the weekends. In those days there was no such thing as "binge drinking", you just drank beer until you fell over. By the early Nineties, I knew in the back of my mind that my partner and I were unsuited, that we wanted different things. But instead of splitting up, we decided to cement our relationship with children. When they were born, we drank even more, and it hit me in December 1993 that I hadn't been sober for a single day since my son was born that August. I realised I had to make a drastic change.

If the fact that I'd been drunk for the entirety of my son's life wasn't enough motivation, a glance in the mirror was. I had been a chain-smoker for years and looked old and fat and toxic. I didn't like the person I saw. I decided that as of my first day back at work the following year, I'd never smoke a cigarette or have a drink again. And I've stuck to my word.

On 5 January 1994, I swapped several pints and a packet of fags for my first "walk" in years. I was a bit rubbish; I kept my normal clothes on, strolled half-way down my street and ran out of breath. The next day I went for a jog, doubling my distance, and before long was running regularly. I went on a drastic diet of about 600 calories per day (which I wouldn't recommend to anyone) and by 1 February, had dropped from 15 stone to 12 stone. I felt euphoric about the change in myself, physically and mentally.

Since then, I've become a committed marathon runner. It started with a half-marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon, the same race I used to watch from my parents' front lawn, with a cigarette and pint in hand, thinking "You silly buggers". Completing the course felt amazing, and I set my heart on the 1995 London marathon. Once I'd done that, I was unstoppable. The following year I came third in a 145-mile race; in 1999 I competed in 88 events, setting nine records.

My ex-wife and I separated that year, and I met my present wife running John O'Groats to Land's End. I've given up the print business and now make a living setting up marathons in Britain, and have re-trained as a personal trainer with Lifetime (lifetimehf.co.uk). It's amazing to think how I've turned my life around. I feel reborn.

firstperson@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam