James Shoulder

James Shoulder is about to tackle the London marathon, so in advance of this amazing goal we asked him straight up about his running history, one we have found is brand new! James excitedly replied "I first started running back in April 2016 when a friend suggested we should go for run around our local lake. At first I was in 2 minds of actually doing so, I sometimes did the odd run in the gym but to change it up and run outside with people watching, frightened me. However I laced up and away we went and found that I was pretty good at the running game and managed to run confidently through the trails. I enjoyed it so much that I often went back to improve on my times and fitness and that's where the passion for this great sport began. 



There are so many things that I love about running, I could go on and on! On a personal level, it's helped with my overall fitness, I've managed to lose weight and now be confident in myself with the way I look. Mentally it's helped a lot too. They say, "running is cheaper than therapy," and I truly believe that. You're able to escape into the outdoors and just let your mind run away with you, I've solved so many day-to-day issues with just a 5K and a Steps megamix to help me see the bigger picture in life. A further thing I love about it and a huge attraction factor, is that it's for anyone and everyone. Anyone. Can. Run. There is such a fantastic community of runners out there, all supporting and willing each other on that I've never experienced nor seen before. I begun to share my running journey on Instagram last year in October and in just 6 short months the support I have received has just been overwhelming yet incredible and cannot thank the IG community enough."

So how did James find out about Run around Europe? "I was very lucky to win my first year's subscription from an Instagram competition that I entered a few weeks ago" James boasts. "From there I looked into the running venture and saw that it was something I'd love to get involved with so that I could push myself and see just how long it'd take me to get around the continent! I like the fact that it's your race. Your race, to go at your own pace, your speed and at your own personal level. I like that it says your predicted finish date too and love that I've knocked a few months off after every run, I have a sense of achievement each day. I also like the check point emails you receive once you get to a certain point in your journey as it delivers perfect hints and tips of the city that you may not know about it before. Also doing the job that I do I can appreciate the destinations and visually imagine the areas once I reach it. 

 With the London Marathon sure to be a highlight, we asked James about his current most memorable run, to which James replies "My Half Marathon over at Silverstone earlier this year. That was the race that I proved to myself that I can do it if I really want it enough. I was pushing for a PB of a sub 1:30 and was over the moon when I managed to score a time of 1:28:59. That was a huge game changer to me and just what I needed to push me through my marathon training plan as I was finding myself stuck in a rut with it. However London is only a few weeks away now and I'm happy to say I'm back in a good place with it now and managed to run my furthest distance of 20 miles this week which again, has fuelled that inner confidence. 

I train on my own. I wish I did belong to a group and am hoping to do so soon but with the job that I do, I'm worried I can't commit on a weekly basis so I choose to find a plan and stick to it that way. However with the IG community I feel as though I'm always running with someone which is great. I currently work as cabin crew, jetting off here, there and everywhere and so having to juggle running, work and social life is a big challenge but something I enjoy and it keeps at the top of my game. I am so lucky to combine my love of the sport with my job as I'm able to do my training runs in some fantastic cities my favourite being in Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada. The urban park is surrounded by the waters of the Vancouver Harbour and the English Bay and you're able to hit distances of up to 13.1miles depending on plans. I'm also lucky to have such a great support network from friends and family. My partner is forever being dragged around the country to all my events and I've even convinced him to run in fun runs dressed as a Wicked Witch and Santa, so it's fair to say I'm getting everyone involved in the sport! People often say to me, "how do you have the time?!" If you really want the results, and you really want to push yourself, you make the time and you just do it. No race is going to run itself. 


Being new to running, we wanted to find out about James' running as a child. "I really didn't like any form of exercise or sport when I was younger, James starts by saying. "My Dad always tried to get me into football, cricket, squash, you name it, he tried it, but running was never one of them. I was always picked to do the 800m at school and always came last so I think that's why I really didn't enjoy running way back then. I just wish I could say to my younger self to keep on going or find a group as I'd love to have been able to have gotten involved in this community a lot earlier. 

My inspiration is from the runners I follow on Instagram. We are all a great diverse bunch, some having never run before, those on their first marathon journey, their 20th and those that are still staying positive despite having an injury. I run for those that can't and I hope that by sharing my journey will inspire those to just lace up and get out that door. 

I love a 5K, especially my parkrun's that I do every Saturday morning. For all those that have never been I highly recommend it! You can go at your own pace, run, jog, walk, meet new friends and really become a part of your local running community. Also it takes the edge off of being on a start line for the very first time so it's less daunting on a big race day. My second is a half marathon distance. I think it's because once I finish I like to think, wow, I can actually do this and even more so, wow, I've got to do this twice over for a whole marathon!? It's such an achievement and I'll never forget when I finished my first one back in September over at Windsor. That sense of inner pride I had was overwhelming but again, loved my can do attitude and have since ran 8 in just 7 months. I hope to do 12 in 12 months this year and have my 5th next weekend!


So do you have any role models you look up to James? "I have two. First being the legend that is, Paula Radcliffe. I am in absolute awe of her and her accomplishments, especially with her London Marathon world record time. To this day it's still not been broken and the fact that it's in London makes it even more special to me as I'll be running that same route in just a few weeks time! Secondly my Mother. She is my absolute rock and I'm so proud of her as she's taking a hold of her own fitness levels and even ran her first 5K last month at parkrun! It's just the beginning for her and who knows, she could be running the Paris  marathon with me next year! 

 And to conclude our interview, we asked James for his running motto.

"Run your own race." We are constantly judging others and even more so ourselves. Learn to let go and just run for you. It doesn't matter if you finish top 10 or top 100, just run your own race. I've definitely learned that over the months doing this and also learned to take steps back. Take the rest days when you need them not when a plan says too because at the end of the day, "There'll always be another race, never another you." 

Good luck in your debut London marathon James for all of us here at Run around Europe.