After competing in the M50 3000 metres and 10K at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships, Joseph Gonzalez talks to MAUK about his experiences up to this point.

Catching the Running Bug

I began running in the summer of 2015. Very unfit and overweight, and nagged by my daughter to help her get active, I pulled on my shorts, a thick cotton t-shirt, a pair of old worn trainers and went for a walk/jog with her.

Up until shortly before then I was 83kg, which was pretty overweight for my 5ft 8 inch frame. I had however shed about 6kg and felt brave enough to have a go. In the first week we went out twice together, and the following week one more time until, being a typical mid-teenager she got bored and gave up.

I decided to persevere, and as all newbies do, thought the right way to do it was run as hard as I could and see how fast I could do a 3K loop. Not once but every time I went out. It was a miracle I didn’t get injured.

Joseph during a rather different 3000 metre loop in Toruń

Very quickly I got the bug and started reading as much as I could about running. I learnt how to train and eat properly, and downloaded and followed a free beginners running plan. It never occurred to me to join a running club, and when I did eventually discover there was one in my neighbourhood, I thought I wasn’t good enough to join. For me it was all about competing, running fast, winning, and if I couldn’t do that then I would just carry on running alone until I felt ‘ready’.

Getting Marathon Ready

By early 2017 I managed to get my weight down to 64kg and decided I wanted to do my first marathon – the London Marathon. Just apply and get in, no problem, or so I thought. My first application was rejected and I soon realised I could apply for the next 10 years and never get in. So I entered the 2018 Brighton Marathon to target a GFA (Good for Age) time for London.

Joseph competing for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Poland

I decided that was the right time to join a club and learn from experienced marathoners. That proved to be a major step forward in my journey — suddenly I started running competitively and doing sessions in groups. I ran 3:01:49 at Brighton and comfortably secured a GFA time.

PBs at all distances dropped almost every month, and when I did finally do the London Marathon in 2019, I ran 2:46:02.

In early 2020, having recently run a 74:56 half, just as the pandemic struck I decided to acquire a coach to keep training and get ready for when restrictions lifted later that year (well, that didn’t happen, did it!). That proved to be the next major milestone in my running journey.

Going International

Coach Kevin Quinn was instrumental in persuading me to aim for international honours — it hadn’t even occurred to me until he mentioned it. I did eventually qualify for my England vest at Wokingham for the Chester Half Marathon in May 2022, and at my own club’s 26.2 RRC Valentine’s 10K for the 10K at Bristol in September that year, although I couldn’t run the latter due to a diary clash with the Berlin Marathon. I was also selected to run in the inaugural half marathon match against Wales at Tenby in July 2022.

Joseph competing in an England vest

So here I am, at the WMA Indoor Championships in Torun, running in a GB vest. I’d never even run indoors until the Inter-Area Challenge at Lee Valley in late February.

I won the M50 3000m B Final in what turned out to be a tactical race, and came 8th M50 (1st British M50) in the road 10K in a slightly disappointing 35:08.

I loved participating in my first overseas championships and I’m very much looking forward to the next one. Possibly Pescara in September if I can persuade the other half it’s a good idea!

Joseph has also put together a video of his race from Torun, which you can take a look at on YouTube.

If you want to read more stories from Toruń, head over to the archive.