Thursday, 26 January 2012

87 days and counting...

"So, you´ll soon be running a half-marathon every week, building up to at least 5 runs a week and a weekly mileage of about 45 miles per week. This should culminate in a 22-mile run about 3 weeks before the big one..."

After this speech by a seasoned marathon runner at a London 2012 training day, I conceded that my vague fitness strategy would need substantial revision if I am to make it through the marathon. Though the talk was intended to motivate runners, with legs still twitching uncomfortably from the 11-mile group run and a head stuffy from a birthday-night-out in Shoreditch, I felt more intimidated than inspired. However, fortunately it only took a Sunday roast and an afternoon meticulously colour-coding a training plan to make me feel much more positive. In fact, as my job is still distinctly shaky, I’m actually quite glad to have something as uncompromising and all-consuming as a marathon to keep me focused. 

Even so, only 2 weeks in, two major problems (other than strength of willpower) have already become apparent. For one, maintaining a normal work and social life will be a feat requiring military precision. Squeezing miles in after work and still having the enthusiasm to walk to the pub is certainly something I will have to get used to. I will also need to perfect my technique when running in the morning. On Thursday I got up at an unearthly hour (blissfully unaware of the monsoon-like conditions outside) to clock up some mileage before work. However, blinded by sheets of rain and gloomy light, I ended up adding an unintentional mile and a half to my route and arrived back at my flat bedraggled and exhausted with only 45 minutes before work. Needless to say, despite the early start, I arrived late and looking even more disheveled than usual. Similarly, post-run productivity is proving to be a problem. Last week, optimistic hopes for an efficient Sunday finishing off some freelance work evaporated after 12 miles around Westminster. The morning's efforts consigned me to a duvet-clad afternoon watching a dubious Lord of the Rings imitation starring Jason Statham. I’ve absolutely no idea how I’ll manage increasingly long weekend endurance runs when the diary is rapidly filling with hen dos, weekends away and weddings.

The other major challenge for me will be remaining injury-free. Despite having spent nearly half my weekly wages on gait assessment and new trainers,  I’ve already had my first Oyster-card-moment: I found myself half way to Battersea (typically without my Oyster or any money) when my ankle became too painful to run on and I had to hobble home to an ice-pack and some ibuprofen. I suppose it’s inevitable that spending disproportionate amounts of time pounding the pavements is not conducive to healthy bones, but no matter how much core-strength training I do, my body seems to have an unfortunate propensity for injury. As such, I can regretfully predict that managing injuries and forking out for physio will be an unfortunate characteristic of the next few month. (I suppose that - in the case of disaster - I can always defer for a year.)

However, though for now I am resigned to the fact that any spare time will be spent either napping or horizontal with a bag of frozen peas, I am hoping that I will gradually learn when to take-it-easy and when to push-through niggling pains. Similarly, I'm assuming that I’ll become an expert at juggling running with weekends away and evenings out. In fact, injury frustrations and social calendar aside, I am actually looking forward to the intense few months ahead. Of course, another task I feel slightly apprehensive about is raising sponsorship for my chosen charity,

Children with Cancer. Being part of the London Marathon Mr Men team, and therefore responsible for raising over a quarter of the charity's income, I will need to get stuck into the fund-raising sooner  rather than later…

So, if you do want to contribute to a good cause, or give me a bit of added incentive and a head-start up the hill, you can sponsor me at 

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