Teacher Feature 18.


Meet this week’s Teacher Feature…

(commuting special)

Name: Martin Lopez
Role in school: Comms, Media & Marketing Director (Multi Academy Trust)
Years in education: 8
Favourite distance to run: TBC!
How long have you been commuting for: Since May 2021
How far us your journey: 21.5KM each way

Martin’s Story…

“If another human could do it, so could I”

A couple of years ago my uncle nonchalantly threw a quote at me that would change everything. He had built a house, pretty much from the ground up, by himself, during only weekends. He was marvelling about the decking and pagoda he had constructed, explaining the ridiculously difficult technique he had used and the fancy equipment he had mastered, when I asked, dumbfounded, “how did you learn how to do all of this?” he laughed as he explained he just ‘taught himself’, then -had a go!

He said he had a simple motto “If another human could do it, so could I”.

Over the next few days my mind kept creeping back to the conversation and how simple, yet powerful that statement was, and from that day forth, have shamelessly stolen the motto and adopted it as my own.
Up until 31st December 2020 running was something that I only ever did as a ‘punishment’ during sport at school or an occasional jog at the start of a ‘fitness kick’. I had entered the Birmingham to Black Country Half Marathon with a colleague in 2015, but that was more about building relationships with a new teacher friend. I came into education following a 15 year stint at David Lloyd Leisure, to say some of my new colleagues were sceptical of my appointment would be an understatement, so signing up for a run with one of the popular guys seemed like a no brainer.

“… as a relatively healthy person, I got COVID, got ill, and spent 5 days in intensive care. After 2 weeks in hospital I left feeling as brittle and vulnerable as I had ever been…”

It was tough, it served its purpose in the sense of building a fantastic relationship with a now good friend, but the running, well I endured it, and as soon as it was over, I was done (check Strava for proof!!). Also worth mentioning that I was eventually accepted as one of their own and have enjoyed a fantastic 8 years so far working in education with wonderful people!

In October 2020, as a relatively healthy person, I got COVID, got ill, and spent 5 days in intensive care. After 2 weeks in hospital I left feeling as brittle and vulnerable as I had ever been, it was a horrible experience, but I could see from the look in my wife and both my boys eyes, I looked worse than I felt! I made it my mission to get healthy again as quickly as possible and a few days out of hospital I started walking. 1KM, then 2KM, 5KM, then some little 20 metre jogs before a few gentle jogs building up the kilometres. Exactly 6 weeks to the day of my discharge, I ran 5KM. The progress, over such a short time, really struck a chord with me, and ignited a new obsession, how far could I push this?

“A misconception with a commute is it could get a bit ‘same-y’ but the beauty is, generally you are running at the same time every day but the seasons make such a dramatic difference”

On 31st December 2020 I decided, with the help of my wife, that I was going to be a runner. I announced this to the whole Trust by setting up a Strava running club for us, the group has been amazing, just shy of 70 runners and still going strong. My initial goal, for the year, was to try and run a marathon in under 4 hours, I can’t remember when it was exactly, but within a couple months I had achieved that and by Easter 2021 I had decided that enough of this marathon running…I wanted more, so signed up for a 50 mile ultra marathon in August.

Truth be told, I did this without researching the kind of mileage I would need to do in the build up to the event, turns out, a fair bit! The choices were:
· Sell the kids
· Get a divorce (zero custody)
· Fit training in at ridiculous hours around work and family

So, I’ve been single now for almost 6 months….only kidding!

Turns out, thanks to our countries magnificent canal system, barring about 1 kilometre at either end I had a perfect, picturesque canal commute to work and on the map, when it’s quite zoomed out, it looked ever so short
All joking aside, it is a beautiful journey. I completed it for the first time on the 12th May 2021, my main strategy is to drive in on day 1, with a spare suit and shower gear, then run home before running back in the next morning and driving home on day 2. Each way is around 21.5KM, down locks on the way to work and up locks and a very steep final hill (Wightwick Bank for those familiar with the Wolverhampton area) on the way back. It means that when I use that strategy, I am completing a marathon within a 14 hour period and in the beginning, it was tough! The first run home was around 2:06 and first run in (the next morning) was 2:01.

Typically I have done this around once per week, during term time, since then, my ultra came and went (I loved it) and immediately signed up for a 100 mile race in July 2022, the Beacons Way 100.
With a life as busy as mine I would never be able to complete these events if I didn’t utilise the commute as part of my training. I have taken the commute one step further this year by completing a ‘there and back’ in a day on a couple of occasions, I will try and make this a weekly thing as it is way less maintenance and messing around with work kit.
Back in September I set myself the challenge of 7 half marathons in 7 days, oddly, my 7th run on the Saturday (started on a Sunday!?) was, and is to date, my fastest half marathon at 1:39. I am almost certain at some point this year I will challenge myself to back to back ‘there and backs’ and maybe even 5 days in a row. If another human can do it, so can I, remember?
I also incorporated all of our schools into a challenge on the 20th December 2021, running from home, to all of our schools and back again, exactly 50 miles and a great way to end my first year in running.

A misconception with a commute is it could get a bit ‘same-y’ but the beauty is, generally you are running at the same time every day but the seasons make such a dramatic difference. I haven’t ran in daylight for months it feels, I am so perceptive to the ground under my feet, how crunchy it gets in the cold, how misty and muddy it gets and I know in a few months how glorious the sun will feel and how much quicker I will be able to move for a while. The light is another wonder, the moments before dusk and dawn are incredible, you never see two the same and they can be breath-taking.

I couldn’t think of a better way to begin or end my working day.

Click the link bellow to follow Martin’s active journey on Twitter!!!

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