December 2023

December 2023

Justin Pocknell

How long have you been Running?

I joined CRC in 2006 when I came back from living in London. I was inspired to run (outside, as opposed to on the treadmill at the gym) after the 2004 London marathon went past my flat. I say 'inspired': by Jade Goody's half-hearted effort and thought 'if she can...' - that made me feel brave enough to kit up and hit the streets. I felt like an impostor, skidding on the discarded orange skins. Fast-forward 2 years I emailed Andrew Taylor about joining a club night, got collared by Gwyn to do Blaise Castle XC, and the rest is history.

How long have you been with Caerleon Running Club and how did you come to join us?

Paid up since 2006 - I was going to work my way through the clubs and decide, but Gwyn decided for me!

What inspired you to start running?

It's the only activity I could do! I was terrible in PE at school, hated sports/getting changed in front of others/getting muddy/balls. So much has changed! I still don't 'get' watching sports and hearing people talk about football or crown green bowling or whatever sends me cataleptic.

What motivates you to keep running?

So many things - when I am motivated! The joy of discovering a new trail (or even street!), the feeling of freedom, almost flying when it's good! The knock-on benefit of increased stamina and fitness for other activities and general health. The feeling you can always either enjoy a run, or push yourself- there are no junk miles! But I've been struggling with focus and motivation for a few years now, so I feel a bit of a hypocrite. Sometimes I have to enter races to make sure I run that week!

What is your running ambition?

Not being gloomy: to conk out on a trail somewhere, to go suddenly doing what you enjoy doing. It sounds maudlin- and would be pretty unpleasant for whoever finds you. Which is incidentally one of my biggest dreads - being the 'jogger' who finds a body!

What do you consider your proudest moment?

Finishing my first half- Forest of Dean, I think in 2009. I genuinely didn't know if I had it in me, and like most runners, I have gained confidence from each achievement since then. I'll never win a podium place or 'good for age' - my proudest moment remains finishing that first half and the confidence it gave me to explore trail and distance.

Do you have any regrets when it comes to your running journey?

Many! Being unprepared: for races, every DNS and DNF, taking my fitness for granted then either getting injured or berating myself for not being able to do better / my best ('cheating' according to some).

What is your favourite race, and why? If you donโ€™t race, what is your favourite run?

Probably Lundy Island half marathon. Each year a boatful of runners crosses the water for the race on the island between Swansea and Hartland. My favourite races are trail and coastal, and there's something magical about islands - I put it down to Enid Blyton.

What is your favourite music to run to? Or if you donโ€™t listen to music, what do you think about while running?

I used to listen to my Ipod shuffle so Supremes, Cilla, tv themes, comedy, all mixed up. One day I heard a strange thumping, so stopped the music. It was my feet! I stopped listening to music to be more aware of my tread, to be more aware of my surroundings. Now no music. Sometimes it's good to turn off, sometimes to 'think', but music is a distraction, I can't multitask!

What is your go-to post-run drink or treat?

Ideally a nice black filter coffee and cake. Later on: something stodgy like a roast meal.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out running?

There are so many options now, so couch to 5k, first-steppers etc are great ways in. Parkrun is a fantastic opportunity to run regularly against your own benchmark. But I'd say take it easy, find the joy and don't pressure yourself. And kit-get lots of kit!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Apologies I don't make it more often to club nights- I used to be regularly in the area! The more I'm away, the more socially inept I become!

Thank you Justin!

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Photography Credits: Tosh Simpkins & Rob Gale
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