Dan Page is running obsessed. He’s the guy you see faithfully jogging along the pavement on Christmas Day morning, breath turning to mist around his head, because he never takes a day off training.
Dan’s Facebook page is full of screenshots of his running app’s progress, the routes he’s covered, his times, and his average pace. On his blog he documents his training schedule and where he is mentally as he approaches a marathon, breaking it down by the week. Many runners take this meticulous approach, measuring their ability down to the millisecond, and tracking every possible metric. Unlike many other runners though, Dan is not built for it. He may look toned and carefully cultivated, but his body used to sabotage him.
Aged 9, Dan was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a condition that affects the hip joint as it develops. The bone softens and starts to break down, compromising the whole joint and making any kind of movement difficult.
There are a number of treatments available, and Dan has had them all, from having his hip pinned to operations that lengthened the tendons in his groin. He was wheelchair bound, on crutches and stuck in a hospital bed intermittently for years of his life, but the various surgeries worked and he was fully discharged from Perthes treatment aged 18.
Years of inactivity continued and became a habit, however, and Dan found he was putting weight on and becoming a version of himself that he didn’t like very much. He literally started to walk before he could run – first walking his dogs, then completing increasingly more difficult walking challenges, and gradually working up to the point where he could run 100 miles in the Lake District.
Dan’s recovery wasn’t just about physical fitness; his training focuses on mental endurance as well. “There’s no better way to strengthen your will power than exercising beyond a point you thought was unachievable.” One of Dan’s favourite ways to stretch himself is to complete ultra races and extreme marathons – long distance races over difficult terrain and mountainous regions. These races generally have a 50-60% dropout rate. “As well as the physical training, you need to overcome your own negativity in an ultra race. There’s a great running community in the UK, but when you’re actually completing the race, it can feel quite solitary, and that’s when people start to convince themselves they can’t do it.”
Dan’s blog allows him to share his progress with others, even those who wouldn’t consider themselves ‘natural runners’. “I’m far from a natural runner myself, so I hope that by sharing my approach, others will see it’s achievable too.”
What makes Dan’s updates so useful for runners at all levels is his transparency. There’s no illusion and no talking down to people from on high, he’s just a guy who never thought he would be a great runner, defying even his own expectations.
“Anyone can become a seasoned runner, as long as they’re willing to keep going. That’s all it is really, just keeping going.”