There is exactly one month to go before London finds itself filled to the brim with heaving, huffing and puffing runners all trying to clock 10km for the Nike 10km Run. The three simultaneous 10km runs in Battersea Park, Hyde Park and Victoria Park on Sunday 16th October are closer than ever and though it's not a race, it's definitely a trial as the many folks pounding the pavements in preparation for the big day could tell you (if only they weren't too breathless to speak...)
Londonist's very own sports freaks have been getting ready for the big breathless day and will be representing this site at each park involved. As the oddly-hypnotic Nike advertising campaign keeps telling them to, they will certainly be running London - but how well and how prepared are they, really? Read on for their progress so far...
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and is 10,000 metres long.
In contrast to Hazel and Alex, my training has been minimal, the small matter of my wedding and honeymoon disrupting any plans. I had departed for my honeymoon, fully intending to use the gym at the hotels to make sure I didn't fall too far behind with my training. Unfortunately, the marketed 'facilities' appeared to be non-existent (or 'under construction'). The excellence of the food in South Africa did not help, either, and I felt sure I had put on at least a pound a day in the fortnight out there.
I dreaded the return home to step on the scales but, in a perfect illustration of every cloud having a silver lining, I managed to pick up what is becoming a customary bout of food poisoning on my last day abroad. Without going into too much detail, let's just say my stomach and intestines were indisputably empty for a few days. Not the best crash diet, I admit, but effective.
Once well enough to step on the scales, I discovered two things. Firstly, I was the same weight I was when I left on honeymoon. Secondly, my details for the body fat measuring function had been set incorrectly, lopping a good five inches off my height. Once re-set, I was pleased to see I had miraculously shed several percent of body fat. (Perhaps if I'd had the scales set properly in the first place, I would never have committed to this 10k kerfuffle.)
My training so far has thus consisted of playing a couple of football matches which, whilst proving that I have a surprisingly robust latent level of fitness, will need to be supplemented by some sessions with the treadmill and iPod Shuffle. I hope, for my sake, I have better progress to report to you next time round.
Well, Week 4 and 5 have been... mixed to say the least. After two successful almost-very-nearly-just-under one hour runs in Week 4, I was a on real high and feeling fit, strong and confident, ready to plough on to the magical one hour plus that will prove to me I can "do" running. Also, at the end of the second run that week, I was in a magical place - hardly breathless, serene and calm and just a little shaky in the limbs, which is definitely progress from the shuddering heap of jelly I previously became after going on the road for a bit.
But then - alas! I spent the weekend in Dorset, the land of clotted cream and scones, ice cream and hanging around not doing very much! Week 5 has started sluggishly and gluttonously, with the only training so far spent in the local swimming pool, doing very slow and gentle laps with the even slower folks in the slow lane. (When they say slow, they mean s...l...o...w. I could get further lying in my bath at home than stuck behind the old lady with the blue swimming cap). Going to Coventry for a work conference that is mainly having coffee, lunch, then more coffee with colleagues then sitting at the back of a room taking notes for most of the day is also not going to be useful for keeping up the good work. Must make up for it next week when there'll be only three more weeks to go...and I really will have to as I'm running out of weeks in which to procastinate!
It's last Sunday, and I'm jogging along by the side of a road that runs straight through Wanstead Flats. I hear a car horn sound behind me, and as the vehicle passes to my right, a hand sneaks out of the passenger window. I was hoping for a cheery wave or maybe a 'thumbs-up', a much-needed sign of encouragement, something to spur me on to the end of my run. Instead I was given the finger. Not just a quick blast either, but a prolonged spell of malice with the digit staying rigidly in place as the car sped off into the distance.
I'm sure that Paula doesn't have to put up with that kind of thing.
But despite the abuse, I wasn't downhearted. I was pretty pleased as it goes, becuase I was on course to finish my first 45 minute run and I could see that progress was being made. Over the last ten days I've ran five times and whereas I'm still so slow that sometimes I think that I'm going backwards, I have started to see a difference in my fitness, in particular my breathing.
Week 2 of my training programme is now in full swing, with the highlight (lowlight?) being a 40 minute 'fartlek ' on Saturday. I'm still refusing to go on one of the Nike training runs, in fact, I went for a run in Hyde Park on Monday and chose to run in the opposite direction to the hordes of 10K runners-in-waiting that surrounded me. I'm a one-man anti-corporate protest.....get me.