Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Age Concern 10K challenge

When I was 25 years old (half a lifetime ago), I could run 10K in approx 30 minutes. I decided to run in the London Marathon and undertook a gruelling 40 week training schedule (based on a program designed by Seb Coe). Mill Hill is an ideal place to live if you want to train for a marathon. It has lots of hills! Five days a week, I would get up at 6am and do the necessary running. I was determined to complete the course in under three hours. Whilst not every aspect of my lifestyle was conducive to such a performance, I was on a mission. I changed my eating habits and to some degree moderated my drinking. My typical run was around 7 miles and involved fartlek running (sprinting up hills and lazily jogging down them) for Milespit Hill, Wills Grove, Hammers Lane and Highwood Hill in Mill Hill. It was a punishing course, but I was focussed and very serious about it. The previous year, I'd had a major health scare and nearly died.

What shocked me was how well my body adapted to the regime. At the height of my illness (I'd had a severe stomach bleed and couldn't eat for 4 weeks and was in hospital for six), my weight had dipped to 8 1/2 stone. Unbeknown to me, some of my friends had decided that I had AIDS and was dying (I only found this out a couple of years ago). I'd lost all body muscle and most of my fat reserves. I'd been careful and had eaten a vegetarian diet. I wasn't drinking and I was also practising guitar for three hours a day to fill the gaps. On top of that, I was putting a new band line up together.

I had found out that I had a natural aptitude for distance running. I'd never been any good at sprints, so I'd just assumed I was not sporty. The running was a revelation. What was more I really enjoyed it. I had set a punishing target for the Marathon of 2hrs 45mins. I knew if I really trained hard, it may be attainable. I chose not to tell anyone - I just got on with it. I went in for a couple of shorter runs and did exceptionally well.

You may wonder how I got on with the Marathon, what time did I do? The answer? I didn't, three months before the set date, I got run over. That was the end of my running. By the time I'd recovered from the obvious damage (I still get back pain from the fracture to L2 vertebrae), it was done and dusted and I'd given up. After that, I just couldn't be bothered. I have not run seriously since.

Anyway 25 years later and five stone heavier than I was then, I was in Cafe Buzz, having a chat with Helen Michael and she said that Age Concern UK were looking for people to take part in a 10K run. Julia Hines, chair of Age UK Barnet was looking to put a Barnet team in. One of my goals for the year is to get my weight below 14 stone. To facilitate this, I gave up boozing for January, but here we are at the end of January and the weight is stubbornly stuck at 15 stone. So what better way to get the weight off than do a 10K run.

Having given the matter some serious thought, I decided I wouldn't do the challenge, if I didn't feel I could physically complete the course in less than 1 hour. So how could I tell. I haven't run for more than 25 minutes for years. Could I manage an hour. So I decided I'd set myself a challenge to see. Yesterday I  ran for 1 hour at the gym at a fairly easy pace. Today I did a 5k run on the hill circuit, again at a steady easy jog. If I could do both without too much trouble, I'd sign up. My main concern was that my back injury would kick in. It was fine.

Anyway, having just completed the two trial runs. I have taken the plunge. I have signed up. I know that no one else on the planet is the slightest bit interested in this, but I will be logging my daily training here so you can see how I get on. I will log the training regime, my weight and how I get on as I go. I don't know if this link will work for you, I'll try it later, but here is todays workout. I will also put up a just giving page as soon as I've set it up - http://www.mapmyrun.com/workout/226783130 - this is a great little app if you are training. It lets you see how far you've run and how many calories you've used.

If anyone else fancies doing the run for Age UK Barnet, get in touch. We'll get a team together. If  a fat git who is a  physical wreck like me can have a go, anyone can

1 comment:

Dave-ros said...

Good luck! I've also been trying to get fit recently, through both indoor climbing and Wii Fit Plus. I think the key is to find something you enjoy doing (rather than just exercising out of some kind of "obligation", which leads to a lot of New Year's Resolutioners giving up by February), and it sounds like you've got it just right...