Richard Hayes list of accomplishments since 2012 is precisely that: not just a couple of things, but a full-blooded directory of achievement. It reads as follows:
MR caught up with the ‘Mohican Runner’ to find out more…
What made you decide to lose weight?
I was sitting with my family and my daughter, who was only two at the time, said “Ooo daddy looks fat!” In the back of my mind I knew I was big, but was trying to ignore it. Obviously when your daughter says something like that it makes you think, “Right, time to do something about it!”
So I got a personal trainer, who took me on for four months, and between April and August of 2012 I lost a stone a month to go from 20st to 16st. Obviously I wanted to keep the weight off, which is when someone suggested that I train for the Great Yorkshire Run in September. When I did that it opened up a whole new world.
Had you run much before the race?
Before I signed up, I was running to lose weight, but had never really considered it an enjoyable thing. Where I live it’s very hilly and at first I couldn’t run halfway up the hill. By the end of the four months my trainer made me run up with a sack of spuds, because that’s the weight I had lost.
When I did my first race I knew nothing about running and tried to do it in under an hour. When I was running around the endorphins were so addictive! I finished in 54 minutes and as soon as I got home I booked myself onto another race two weeks later.
Was there a point when you thought you might have a talent for running?
It was more of a gradual thing. At first, I just wanted to be able to run. My targets gradually got more and more ambitious. I did my first two races and in the second one I knocked two minutes off my time. After that, I came up with my first charity challenge, which was to run 13 10Ks in 2013 and set a PB in each one. It was easy at first but obviously as I got quicker the PBs got harder! Quitting, though, doesn’t come into my vocabulary, so it was just a case of training harder for each one.
I suppose that’s when I thought, “Hey up! I’m getting quite quick here.” The training has continued and everyone keeps saying, “You’re going to plateau,” but I keep improving!
When I joined my first running club back in 2013, they said my initial goals should be sub-1hr 30 for half-marathon, sub-40 for 10K and sub-20 for 5K, so they became my personal goals. Now I’m aiming to break 36 minutes for 10K, 18 minutes for 5K and I’m in training for my next half-marathon which I hope to do in 1hr 19mins.
What was the hardest to achieve?
Definitely the 5K. For ages I was knocking on the door of 20 minutes. I did five parkruns in a row where I was a matter of seconds off. I actually did one and got dead on 20 minutes! Then I went up to York, which is a quick course, and did 19:43. As soon as you do it once something clicks in your head and it becomes easy. All of a sudden I was running sub-19 within two months! Once you’ve done it once the mental barrier is broken.
I used to be in the Navy so always had to have a no-nonsense shaved head. The Mohican is a way to stand out to raise exposure for the charities I run for. I changed my Twitter handle and then made a blog and now I guess I’m stuck with it! I have complete strangers coming up to me saying, ‘Oh you’re the Mohican man!’
And what’s the next challenge?
At the moment I’m having a break. I completed my last challenge – one race a week for 32 weeks – in January and now I’m targeting the half-marathon. There’s loads on the bucket list – a marathon on every continent all that sort of stuff!
Does raising money spur you on in races?
It does. The personal achievements are a sideshow, but the charity fundraising is the main reason I run.
Has running changed your life?
Ask anyone who knew me before and now and I’m a completely different person. Everything works around my training plan! Running is the be all and end all. I’m lucky because my family is so supportive. My wife has come to every race I’ve ever done and we always make a point of doing something after my races with the family. My daughter’s really supportive. She recently had to dress up at school as her hero and she went dressed as me!
Describe yourself as runner in one word:
I could give you a few! Let’s say stubborn.