851High And Dry

High And Dry

MR3-30At 31 Rory Coleman was working himself into the ground, necking ten pints a day and smoking like a chimney. Then he went for a run in his loafers...

Words: Danny Coyle and Iain Clark

I was a typical binge drinker. Like a lot of guys in their twenties I lived and played hard and thought I knew it all. I worked in the print business. If you couldn’t drink five pints at lunch you were a bit of a poof. We’d get hammered at lunch, do some more work then go and get hammered again and that became my daily lifestyle. You get into a spiral; you drink more and more, get into more scrapes, become more and more unhappy and drink even more. Couple that with 20 to 40 fags a day and lots of really unhealthy food and by the age of 31 I looked in the mirror and thought: “Who is that staring back at me?”I just hated the person looking at me. I tried to change in 1992. I actually phoned the Samaritans because I didn’t quite know what to do. They said I needed to talk to Alcoholics Anonymous who told me to call back when I was sober. I thought: “I can do this on my own.” It was New Year’s Eve 1994 when I thought: “New year, new me.” On January 5, I stopped.It’s the hardest decision to get to but once there it’s the easiest decision you can ever make. I couldn’t change the past but thought: “I can do anything I want if I really want to”. I got a blank sheet of paper and wrote down all the things I wished Rory Coleman did: not drink, not smoke, go on a diet, start jogging.I got about 100 paces and was completely buggered. I was in my day clothes and a pair of leather shoes. The next day I did about 200 yards and by the end of the week I was running about a mile. I felt brilliant, liberated – no booze, no fags, no shitty food – and I was getting some fresh air. I lost 3st in a month.Psychologically, running is fantastic for you. Instead of getting my endorphins from drinking and fighting and the anticipation of that first pint, my anticipation of going for a run was the same thing. I used it as therapy and I found out I was quite good at it.You then challenge yourself to go further and further and when you go further you feel better about yourself. I did a half-marathon in three months and ran under two hours and felt brilliant. Then I did a marathon in Telford in around four hours in the November, so I’d gone from nothing to a marathon in nine months.In 1995 I ran London and a week later did another marathon at Stratford, then a week after that I ran one in Hereford. I’ve been doing one a week since then because it’s just an amazing thing to do.MR3-30-2He doesn't carry a flag in every race he runs, we think.I used to watch the Stratford Marathon come past my front door every year with a pint and a fag saying they were silly buggers. They used to pass out on my front lawn at the 17 mile mark. If you’d said then that I’d go on and do that race 11 times myself, I would have said you were daft, but we’re all human, we’re all capable of massive things, we tend to get bogged down in the details of life rather than thinking about the things we really want to achieve. It’s difficult to think what I was like back then. I can’t remember being that person. I’m 48 and when I look at people at my age they look like old men to me. I still feel about 17. Along the way I’ve done some amazing things. I qualified as a personal trainer with Lifetime Fitness, I’ve run the Marathon des Sables seven times, I ran to Lisbon in Portugal, running 30 miles a day for 43 days and I’ve set nine world records on treadmills and I now run my ultra race company, www.ultrarace.co.uk.For a fat bloke that used to smoke and drink a lot, it shows you that you can become something else; you don’t have to stand still, you don’t always have to be that same person you once were.

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