He described himself as a Canadian living in Vienna who is a slower runner with more of a rugby player’s build.
Meet Ian Bird
Ian is a lawyer at the moment and has been working for a large Ukrainian company, based in Vienna for the last 12 years. Before Vienna, he was in Kazakhstan and then Moscow.
Ian wanted to be a pilot growing up because he would always look up into the sky and think “ooh, I would love to be up there!”
Even to this day he still jumps at the opportunity to go into the cockpits…
Spontaneous, straightforward, and perhaps funny is how his friends and family would describe him…
Ian says he is the type of person who calls a spade a spade…
I think that’s a very British thing. My mother was Scottish…I like things to be very straightforward.”
Ian’s Earliest Memory Of Running
My earliest memory of running was probably grade six when we were lined up for a 200m on the football pitch in Canada to see who would make the team for the 100 and the 200 meters.”
Ian stood in line and had no idea how he was going to do… The other guys were much taller than he was and they were definitely more sporty.
The race starts and all of a sudden he made it to the end of the pitch before them!
The coach Mr. Dunbar couldn’t believe it! He couldn’t believe it so much that he said: “Okay guys, come back and let’s do that again.”
And again, Ian beat them all! His friends still remember and reminisce about that moment because it was unbelievable.
Growing up Ian ran track, and field and played golf, and wishes he added ice hockey to that list. Especially because now he is a Canadian that doesn’t play Ice hockey.
Growing up in Canada allowed Ian to cycle a lot with friends around their neighborhood, and build tree forts right up until dinner time at 18:00.
Running As A Stress Reliever
Ian has always run on and off for his adult life, for him running has always been a stress reliever but, to be honest …
I have never really enjoyed running!
I enjoy the effects of running, the fitness, the stress relief, etc …But only recently have I actually begun enjoying running.”
It all began when a friend of Ian turned 40, they were living in Moscow at the time and the friend has always wanted to run a marathon. For his 40th he ran a marathon around the villages just outside of Moscow with his wife driving next to him in a car.
I thought that was so cool! Then I wanted to run a marathon!”
Ian tried… and tried to prepare for a marathon but never quite managed to get the training right… That is until the last six years when he put his foot down and decided… “I will run a marathon!”
It’s only sort of with Coach Parry that I’ve really focused on the training, making it more systematic”
Ian’s First Marathon – The Istanbul Marathon
Ian’s first marathon went completely opposite to what he had expected…
His Turkish is not the best and by accident, without realizing it, in the registration process, he signed up and paid for the charity route instead of the full marathon!
He arrived on race day at Taksim Square and someone said “Oh your number is not quite right, but don’t worry, go over to the other side.”
So, Ian went to the other side and someone tells him. “You’re not signed up for the marathon.” After much back and forth they explained to Ian that he needs to catch another bus and two or three metro stops to get to the marathon start
Ian had a feeling that they wouldn’t let him run the marathon because he hadn’t actually entered.
He eventually got to where he needed to be and started to talk his way through, he got to as far as he could go, behind the charity walkers, behind the marathon walkers, and behind the marathon runners!
He found a very helpful official who understood Ian’s predicament and said… ok, they will let him run the marathon.
But now Ian was behind EVERYONE. He started the marathon about an hour and a half after the rest of the runners, he had to weave in and out of hundreds of walkers. He got through the crowds and then ran the rest of the first 27km alone!
There was a moment when he was the only person running on a five-lane highway, they even began to close water stations as he was passing by…
My wife is wondering when she was going to see me. I eventually crossed the finish line and completed my first marathon.”
What a first marathon experience… certainly one he will never forget!
Running Groups & Happiness
Ian believes that he was training incorrectly for so long and he was just trying to run faster and faster.
He wasn’t training properly and he was starting to feel stressed about not running at a good enough pace.
Now, Ian follows the 80/20 rule and watches his heart rate, he has begun to not care what people think on Strava. He makes sure he does the strength training, hill work, intervals, and most importantly, runs slowly.
Ian never used to like running in groups, it was always a solidarity thing for him and now he is a member of a group and loves it!
Enjoying running in groups is a new thing for me, it’s so fun to run with friends on a Sunday at 7 am, be home by 9 am and then still have the whole day ahead of you, feeling virtuous.”
Jumping forward a few years…
Ian and a few good friends completed a bike tour in Uzbekistan Tashkent 1 week after completing the Berlin marathon.
A friend of mine lives in Tashkent. And we’ve been talking about this tour for years. But with COVID it got canceled, we were supposed to do it in June, but my dad got ill, so we had to cancel. So it was actually the week after I’d come back from Berlin on Monday and the Thursday of I flew to Tashkent.”
Ian and his friends had a fantastic week putting four bikes in the back of a Mitsubishi four-wheel drive, biking around, stopping the bike, or stopping the car to cycle up into the hills or across the desert, they had a great time.
Ian thought that it would have been harder than it was considering it was only a week after Berlin but he felt strong and confident.
That Magical ‘Fall In Love With Running’ Moment
Ian said, like many of us, during your first marathon you think… ‘I don’t want to do this ever again’, but then you cross that finish line and you think…’I can, and want to do this again!’
This year in Berlin. I did not have a particularly good race. I thought I’m never going to do this again… Well, later that day, I’m already on the Coach Parry forum and asking questions, and so on. Within a few days, I signed up for Rotterdam in April!”
Ian never used to keep his medals or celebrate the running experience, now he has his medals on the wall and loves the experience and sense of accomplishment afterward.
Positive Health Impacts
He used to have these things called extrasystoles. Basically, extra, abnormal heartbeats begin in one of the heart’s two lower chambers.
Ian went to the doctor, got on the bike and the doctor told him he doesn’t have to worry about them. But now, since training, Ian has managed to get rid of them completely.
He says it’s partly due to stress but also the running ethic.
If I know I’m going to have a tough day at work I forced myself to get up in the morning and run and those days where I run in the morning, It feels like I can cope with anything.”
Ian explained how the mental health benefits from running have been a game changer in his life.
Ian & Coach Parry
He first found out about Coach Parry through one of our YouTube videos posted on Strava.
That then led Ian to the Faster Beyond Fifty webinar, which was about 3 years ago.
He particularly enjoys the community forum, and the feedback from the coaches, and he hopes that more and more people will start to communicate on the platform and share their stories.
He thinks that the coaches being so active on the community forum is super encouraging and that’s one of his favorite things about Coach Parry.
Going through the forum you can see that there are so many people of different abilities and all the coaches make us feel comfortable. It’s amazing to see that people aren’t afraid to post questions about injuries or bad races because they know they aren’t being compared to other runners on the platform.”
The Berlin Marathon
Ian’s goal for The Berlin Marathon was to cross the finish line feeling comfortable with no pain and no injuries. He wanted to enjoy the experience with the hopes of completing it in 4 hours 20mins.
He experienced a few calf issues and trigger point issues. Ian admits in the build-up he did not do much strength training and in the marathon, he struggled for the last 5 or 6 miles… he was disappointed with his finish time.
His sister and other family members came over and it turned out to be a great weekend in Berlin despite the disappointing race.
This was the last marathon Ian has run but he has revenge planned for Rotterdam in April 2023!
Ian recently broke his 5km PB with a sub 23min 5km at a Parkrun!
I didn’t know anything about park runs, but I think I saw them on the forum and I looked them up and I thought that is cool.”
Struggles Along The Way
Not letting the strength work slip away. You know, it’s easy to let it slip…”
He explained how sometimes the strength work isn’t as fun and finding the time to do it is difficult as he would rather head out for an hour run.
But he does enjoy the recordings and hopes to get back into doing the strength work more and more.
Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.
Something else interesting about Ian is that orange is his color. Literally.
He said that his kids always laugh because all his equipment and gear are orange, right down to his watches.
The Vienna Half Marathon
In Vienna they have a race series called the winter series, you build up by doing 10 km and then halves and eventually the Vienna Marathon.
This is the same marathon where Eliud Kipchoge broke the sub 2-hour marathon barrier under non-competition settings.
Ian says that there is something inspirational about running there now. He often runs there, it’s a race he thoroughly enjoys, and had beat his half marathon personal record there a few times…
With his recent being 1hr50mins.
Ian’s favorite Running Experience So Far
The favorite running memories are sometimes when you go out, and you don’t know how far you’re going to go. And then you just keep going…”
He says that sometimes he feels like going for a run at 11 pm and he can run for a long time, he feels like running at night is easier.
Amazing story Ian, you’ve taken us on an inspirational trip around the world. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for 2023! Bring on Rotterdam!