How do you get from nowhere to being a half marathon smashing dickhead? A bit like this, since you ask…
Age 12, cross country running on Wednesday afternoons at school…
Be sure to go to a school on top of a barren, windswept Derbyshire hill where the ‘cross country’ route actually feels like you are crossing the actual entire country, one miserable step at a time. Bonus points if your parents are too tight to provide you with ‘PE tracksuit bottoms’ so you have to run through the biting winter wind in nothing more than a comically short netball skirt. One week, forget to bring even this, and be forced to run it in those probably illegal by now waist high navy blue PE knickers. Bad times.
Be so awful at running that you can’t even make one lap around the course without walking. Walk. Most of it. Miss every subsequent Wednesday afternoon lesson as you are forced to complete the course “no matter how long it takes”. Compare notes with your friend Connie at the end on who has the bluest dead legs.
Every year from aged 12 – 25…
Consider running “for fun” as some unholy torture suitable only for “other people”. Never do it. (Apart from that one time you convinced your then-boyfriend, violently against his will, to do an army style Boot Camp, then felt it would be churlish to cry and give up before he did, which he unfortunately, didn’t.)
Age 26 (pre-children)…
Sign up for a 5k race for life. Download couch to 5k training plan. Week 1 is something like run for twenty paces, walk for twenty minutes. Consider this still pretty taxing actually, but do it anyway. Stick to the training plan with over-zealous mania bordering on the religious.
Become wild with joy the first time you run for TEN WHOLE MINUTES without stopping. It’s about a mile. This seems like ridiculously far for a human to travel, unassisted. Be sure to tell every last person you meet about your PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER.
Complete the race, (Silverstone racetrack, chosen specifically for being as flat as a pancake because I’m not an idiot) sprint finish in a blaze of glory. Celebrate with an athlete’s pint or seven. Winning.
Ruin every last part of your body by growing, birthing and breastfeeding two giant human babies. Weep with hysterical laughter at the thought of ever running anywhere ever again without either pissing yourself or knocking yourself out with your own tits.
Decide to Get Back On It. Publicly declare intention to one day run a half marathon. (Half, because – DON’T AIM TOO HIGH!!!) Train for and bang out a couple of actually not that bad 5k races. Find new running buddy who convinces you to enter a 10k, and probably regrets it after you are sick on her halfway round. Recover from the shame, write all about it, block it from your mind and eventually brave another 10k, this time dressed as Santa, because nothing says ‘effortless athletic prowess’ like a fat bearded man dressed head to toe in flammable red nylon fur. Smash this one out of the park.
Eschewing idiotic notions like ‘dry January’ get drunk on red wine one evening and quickly sign up for the Milton Keynes Half Marathon before you sober up and change your mind. Pay for the privilege and then start panicking because is it even legal to attempt to run at all when you’ve eaten this much cheese in December? What if the shockwaves from my thundering arse cause some kind of global catastrophe? Console self with the thought that the Trump administration seem to be taking care of that one pretty well all by themselves, and resolve to start training. Soon.
Realise that running four times a week IS actually possible if you stop doing all that other important stuff you used to do in the evenings like eating hummus whilst watching TV then going to bed. Bore everyone you know to tears with the stock response to the question of ‘Doing anything nice this weekend?’ with “GOING FOR A *insert horrific distance* RUN UNTIL MY BRAIN HURTS AND MY KNEES BLEED” or similar. Repeat until you’re sick, and people stop asking.
I’m up to 9 miles so far. 5 weeks to go. Lordy lord. It’s hard, but it’s good.
So there you have it – it IS possible to become that other person you sometimes never thought you could be. I have to concede that seeing as today I actually saw some ‘energy gels’ in Lidl and rather than thinking THOSE ARE FOR WANKERS, well – I bought four didn’t I. Because I am a Real Runner now. Admittedly, I’m probably still a wanker too, but just one with better legs and more sports accessories than before. I even bought a bloody visor last week, so that’s the sort of dickhead I am now. I’ve accepted this.
By ungodly coincidence, it turns out that nearly everyone else I know has also signed up for a challenge, but they’re all doing a Real Man’s Full Fat Marathon, and are pissing all over my chips by gently knocking out 18-milers before school pick up, but there you go. I’m not in this for the win. My goal is simply to neither be sick nor die on the course, and as an optional side effect, possibly achieve the svelte athletic grace of a teenage supermodel whilst attempting it. So, ever the realist.
Any tips, advice, tactics and ways to manage the crushing boredom of hearing nothing but my own footsteps and breathing for hours on end are most welcome – comment below, or on my facebook page or twitter (or instagram, but I don’t think there’s a filter on earth which could undo the shade of puce my face goes after exercise, so it’s unlikely to feature there tbh. Sexy ass pictures only etc.)
And if I DO die, could somebody please pause my Strava?
If you like this, you might also like to read about my:
UNHOLY SPORTING PROWESS at The Suffering muddy race challenge at Rockingham Castle; or
Perhaps you’re just into murdering, sordid affairs and dogging? Caravan for sale….