“Well, f*ck me, I actually did it!”
If you’d asked me to run 5k a couple of years ago, I’d have told you where to go. But fundraising makes one do stuff one really wouldn’t normally even consider.
My mate Rich is the other half of my music project, desire path. He’s also a runner. Like, a real runner; marathons and everything! In October 2021, I was hosting my weekly radio show on River Radio in Marlow while Rich was running the virtual London marathon.
As it happened, he passed through Marlow on his run route, so he popped in for a chat on my show. He laid down the gauntlet of a challenge live on air, saying he’d make donation to my fundraising page if I agreed to run 5km by following the Couch to 5K programme.
I accepted, of course, and then panicked! Let’s face it; I really don’t have the physique of a runner.
Anyway, I talked it through with my personal trainer at the time and she ran with me twice a week as I started the programme. Three weeks in, though, and I was having some fairly painful issues with my left hamstring/glute and I eventually had to abandon running until I could get some help with whatever was going on.
Fast forward the best part of a year and I’ve spent a lot of money seeing two different physios, who couldn’t resolve the problem, so went to see an osteopath who finally began to make a difference. In fact, the situation improved enough for me to start running again. Remember when I did my 50k cycle ride I joined a gym for a week? Well, I liked the gym so much that I signed up on a monthly rolling contract in order to train on their running machines.
The theory was that I’d better be able to control my foot placement and posture on an even and predictable surface, so that should prevent me from aggravating the problem with my leg/glute. And it worked! Week one went well, then week two and week three. Then I went away on holiday and got ill so training halted but I returned to the gym two weeks later and picked up the pace again.
In early September, Rich and I looked around for a race to sign up to so that I’d have a deadline to work to. By the time the date came around, I was nowhere near ready – I’d only got four weeks in to the nine week Couch to 5k programme, and the most I could run in one go was 5 minutes. I warned Rich that our 5k would be made up of running and walking but, so long as I got round, I’d be happy.
Neon body paint
The event we signed up to was a GLOW Night Run around Eton Dorney Lake – the one they used for the Olympics in 2012 – so it was a great excuse to get kitted out with glow sticks and neon body paint.
We picked up our standard issue pink headbands, attached our trackers, did a few warm-up exercises and then it was time to gather at the start line. We started at a comfortable jogging pace and I fully expected to need to slow to a walk after a while. But, thanks to celestial intervention or some other miracle effect, I actually managed to continue running THE ENTIRE WAY ROUND!
I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or Rich, but he was brilliant at keeping track of how well I was doing. He put no pressure on me but we celebrated every benchmark along the way. If I viewed it as five minute increments, it didn’t seem like such a big deal, and once I’d run half way, I simply couldn’t stop then.
With all the challenges I’ve completed over the last 16 months, I’m probably fitter and more agile than I’ve been for a few years, but I’m carrying several extra stone in weight and it sometimes feels like I’m dragging a lump of lead around with me. So, for many reasons, I’m beyond proud of myself, even now as I write this six days after the event.
The next day I had this kind of spring in my step and felt like telling everyone I came into contact with that “I ran 5K last night. Yes, me!!” I’m not sure the bloke at the petrol station really cared…
I’ve now registered for Park Run, so let’s see if I actually make it up and out of bed early enough on a Saturday morning to join the local run. I completed the GLOW run in 50:47, but we did stop for photos by the Olympic rings (I jogged on the spot), so I guess now I need to see if I can improve my time!