'I love running to music'

Father-of-two Justin Spanner, 39, took up running two years ago after a 15-year break from exercise to raise his family. He explains how music has improved his running and keeps him motivated.

When did you take up running?

I started running when I joined the police cadets, when I was about 17 or 18. I really got into it. I even ran the London Marathon. But then I got married, had children and spent 15 years or so doing very little exercise.

When did you start running again?

When I got divorced in 2010, I looked in the mirror and realised I was so out of shape. I’d get out of breath just walking up the stairs. So I decided to do something about it. I needed a goal to work towards to keep me motivated. I had a look around and decided to have a go at a triathlon. 

What was it like starting from scratch?

The first three or four weeks of taking up exercise after such a long break were tough. My legs would ache after my runs. I think it’s important to start gradually to avoid injury and stick with it. After a few weeks, exercise starts to become a habit. My runs became easier and more enjoyable.

Describe your progress since starting running

I’ve been running for two years now. Since I started training I’ve gone down from 14.5 stone to 12 stone. I’m much more active. I do some kind of training every day and I enjoy it. I feel good after a run. I’ve got more energy. I’m a different person now.     

How has music helped your running?

To train for a triathlon, I needed to do long runs and some interval sessions. I was really struggling with long runs because it was so boring. I read about AudioFuel’s running music in a magazine. I bought the two hour run programme and it has done the trick. 

How has AudioFuel helped your motivation?

I like the music and the way the tempo drives your stride. The coaching is particularly helpful. I like the timekeeping – the round of applause every 10 minutes is great. You get prompts on technique and when to drink.

Do you listen to any other running music?

My music tastes haven’t really changed since the 80s and 90s. Every bloke likes Rocky don’t they – it’s inspirational. The Eye of the Tiger is a classic! I select songs that I think will help me to keep going. I’ve got seven or eight playlists, mostly high tempo stuff, which I alternate with my AudioFuel tracks to keep it interesting.

How do you fit running into your weekly routine?

It is difficult. As a police officer, I work shifts. If I’m on a late shift, I’ll run in the morning. I find planning my exercise sessions at the start of the week helps me to stick to my commitment. I think the key is trying to fit exercise into your routine. I try to fit exercise in as part of my travelling to and from work. I’ll cycle, run or walk to work.  

Do you have any particular exercise goals?

I want to do an Ironman triathlon, which is a long-distance triathlon. I’m not there yet – maybe in a couple of years’ time. I’ll have to step up my exercise regime for that. It’ll probably be a one-off, but I see it as one of those once in a lifetime achievements.

Any tips for new runners?

Take your time and persevere. Get some knowledge – read online, read books, read magazines. Start easy and build up your distances gradually. Stick with it. It will be difficult to begin with, but that will change and you will come to love it.

Page last reviewed: 31/05/2014

Next review due: 31/05/2016

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