My my, those red adverts are just about everywhere now aren't they? Staring up at you from your copy of the Metro, in your face on the tube platform and frenetically tapping away at your subconscious as they roll past you on the side of a bus. For those who have no intention of destroying their knee joints as they slalom past dog turds and hooded youths, these ads are an irritant. But they're also
a problem for those that have signed up, for they can easily lead to paranoid thoughts along the lines of 'am I doing enough training?', 'will I make it round the course after that last pot noodle?' and 'hmmmm.....lycra'. For our runners, that heady rush of optimism that accompanied their registration must surely now be ebbing away, and the reality of their situation is setting in. So how are they getting on?
My first two weeks went very well. After the euphoria of signing up, sifting through all the glossy material posted to me by Nike and pondering over whether spending a month's salary on running gear would be a good or a bad thing, I felt that I had developed a quiet determination to just get on with it. And get on with it I did. My first attempt to run around the block was torturous and ended in failure, but just five attempts later I was completing three laps and running (semi)comfortably for 30 minutes. That last run was a revelation, my breathing (I'm asthmatic) felt great and I was giddy with the revelation that I hadn't run that long for....well..for more years than I care to remember. Fringe benefits have been quick to materialise, with a trip back home to Kent resulting in a couple of 'you look well, have you lost weight?' style comments from mother and sister. All good.
But then this week, progress has ground to a halt. Life seems to have got in the way, with job interviews, boozy dinners and stiffness-inducing football tournaments providing too many excuses for not putting on my trainers. Even worse, this afternoon was punctuated by a visit to the corner shop for a packet of mccoys and a cherry coke. Silly boy. The resolve is still there though, and as the punishing six week training programme that I downloaded from the Run London site starts next week, I know that I need to get back on it right away. So I'm going for a run tonight.
I haven't been on any of those official training runs yet, and I may not bother with them at all. A mate of mine went on one in Hyde Park last week, and said that he was rather put off by one of the offical Nike 'warden' types who conduct the runs. Apparently this svelte-looking chap was happy enough to run alongside my rather pedestrian-paced friend, but in order to ensure that maximum output was achieved, he adopted a quick-fire, knees-up, running-on-the-spot style of running, so as to ensure that any spare calories left over from his consumption of that tofu yoghurt at lunchtime were efficiently burnt up. No one needs that.
Ken got married last week and is off on his honeymoon right now. Congratulations and best wishes to him and Polly.
Week 1 (of 9) 40 minutes combined running and walking. Total running time: approx. 7 minutes. Distance covered - I could still see my house at every point in my "run." Felt completely shattered and yet keen to run again. Second run was 1 hour combining walking and running with a lot of stopping to "fix" my minidisc player, ie. stand still and get my breath back several times. Disappointing, but was so ashamed, I made myself a training schedule, bought a pedometer and thought about what I would treat myself to after it was all over.
Week 2 (of 9)Bloody hell. It was drizzling, damp and grey but I still ran for a full 30 minutes without stopping. Though I recorded a distance for that run, I've since found out that my running stride is far shorter than I thought. I'd have to dislocate both hips to get the stride I originally thought I could do, so I'm just counting this as 30 minutes, in rain, quite good. Swimming the next day - alternated laps for speed with laps for breathing control. Completely knackered, so tired I had trouble sleeping. Managed another 30 minute run on Thursday and 30 minutes straight running with an extra 15 minutes running and walking on Sunday. Feeling strong and capable. And still so very tired...
Week 3 (of 9)Did a cool 45 minutes running without stopping, playing with minidisc player or splashing contents of water bottle over face by accident. Unfortunately developed a yucky cold and cannot see if I can repeat this for my next run scheduled for tonight. Bending down for a paperclip nearly made me black out today so I think today will be a rest day. With any luck, I'll pick up where I left off on my next run and get up to an hour's solid running by the end of week 4 / beginning of week 5.
I also haven't been to any of the Nike runs and don't think I will as I resent other joggers on the route I've set for myself near home; joining a horde of huffing and puffing runners in the park with Nike-employed fascist sports dictators is, at this point, hell on a stick in sweatpants.