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

Chief Executive

£28, 700: Whiskey Whiskey Tango: Property Management Company is seeking a brig...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

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...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?