An interview with Tom, running and bouldering

What do you do to keep fit?

Currently I mostly go running although I’m hoping to get back into rock climbing when I go back to University. This has been on hold due to the pandemic. I also enjoy doing circuits.

Running free

Out of all those activities which do you enjoy most and why?

Rock climbing or more specifically indoor bouldering. Bouldering is done in a climbing centre without ropes as you don’t go up that high and can jump off onto mats. The emphasis is on different types of holds and a great deal of hand, finger, forearm strength is needed. It’s also technically challenging which I enjoy. I get a sense of adventure with doing new levels/routes and its the same with trail running.

I think I always liked climbing/adventuring. When I was young, maybe 7 or 8, I remember being on a beach and seeing a cliff face there. I ran over and climbed all the way to the top not realising it would be harder to get down without ropes. My mum came running over and talked me down slowly!

How does exercise make you feel?

It’s nice to feel I’m staying healthy. During lockdown it was also a good way for me to have a sense of routine since University was closed and jobs were sparse. Most of my other hobbies are sedentary so its good to have something where you are up and on the go.

I think running and climbing compliment each other. When I run I switch off and relax. I’ve tried meditation and I just cant stop my mind from going off here and there. With running I can just accept that. My thoughts will dart all over the place going through my day or other things I want to do but its a relaxing unwinding feeling.

With climbing my mind is very focussed on what I’m doing. Your brain is completely switched on to that very task and there isn’t time to think about anything else except your next hand hold. I like that Ying and Yang of the two different sports.

Do you have any fitness goals or aspirations?

I’d like to progress to more difficult routes on the bouldering side of things and with running it would be nice to do a sub 20 minute 5k or sub 50 minute 10k. I’d also like to do a half marathon or marathon in the longer term. My more immediate aspiration would be to achieve a stronger appearance and feel stronger. I’ve been the one to lose arm wrestling contests with some of my friends. It would be nice to look as if I could win those. It would be good for a feeling of self defence also, to look like someone people wouldn’t want to tackle.

Do you think exercise is good for mental health?

I think being active helps you to switch off and in that sense its very cathartic. It’s also a positive re-inforcement that you are being healthy. In addition it gives you ‘me’ time which I think is so important.

What are your most memorable sporting moments/achievements?

I think there are 2. My mum and I ran the Manchester 10k run just after the Manchester bombings. It felt amazing to run together and with that strong sense of community in the City at that time.

The other was a personal victory for me. I never thought I was good at sport, I wasnt co-ordinated when it came to ball sports. At High School I was entered into a cross country 1500m race against others in my PE group (there were 3 groups across the year). I came first and afterwards people came up to me and said I was like a machine and I would then hear people say ‘oh Tom is good at running’. I’d never been complimented before when it came to sport and it felt really good.

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