Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Running Man

I have recently taken up running, after my sister had the ludicrous idea that we should run the Bath Half Marathon next spring. I hadn't run more than a few yards for more than a few years, but about six weeks ago I decided to take up the challenge, and signed up to run the Birchwood 10k run, which now looms large on my horizon this Sunday.

At first it was like taking an ice-pick to my lungs. On my debut trip out, I managed to run for eight minutes and about one kilometre, but through perseverance and, more importantly, the fear of ridicule from my friends, I have persisted and have now managed 10k training runs on a couple of occasions. This evening I went for a 5k run, which I now consider a "short" one, despite it being laughably far compared to what I could manage a few weeks back.

A couple of things struck me when I was running today.

First, how incredibly fast professional track athletes actually run. My last run before tonight was on Saturday, when I went out just after watching Mo Farah win silver for Britain in the European Championships. He ran 5,000m in little more than 13 minutes, and still didn't win the race! Tonight I managed it in 31 minutes, and felt on top of the world (literally - I could barely breath and my legs hurt). Paula Radcliffe runs marathons in two and a quarter hours, which means averaging 6 minute miles for 26 miles! I can't manage a single one! My target for Sunday is an hour. In the time it takes me to run 10k, those two could run over 20k!

And second, running has become a great way to get to see more of the Ward. I have a few street circuits that I can run around, and I know how far each of them are by using this fabulous site. 10k circuits can take me all around Prestwich, past any potential problems for residents, or any exciting new developments. The other day a local resident rang me up to tell me about a problem with some derelict garages, which were on my regular running route! And tonight I saw him again as I ran past his house.

So next time you see a panting, sweating twnety-something flopping past your fornt door, don't call the police, as it's probably me. If you stop me to say hello, I may well say "Hi" back, or I may just grunt something at you. Believe me, it's nothing to do with impoliteness, it just depends whether you've caught me at the beginning of my run, or at the end when I've lost the power of speech.

A final thought - surely it can't be a coincidence that the number one centre for top class endurance running in the UK is called... St Mary's, can it?! Beijing Olympics here I come!


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