On the 25th September 2016 I did something that I have not done for many years.
I took my first steps on the “Couch To 5K” program. I had downloaded the app, selected my vocal coach, you have a choice of celeb voices to listen to and when Michael Johnson says run you run I can assure you! I had not run for a number of years, however, I figured that as a keen cyclist I would have the leg strength and endurance to complete the course. How wrong I could be! On my first outing I couldn’t manage more than a minute without having to stop. Fortunately, the scheme is designed in such a manner that builds up your running strength gradually – walk a minute then jog a minute…. and so on.
It was the aforementioned cycling that prompted the desire to start running. I don’t cycle a great deal in the winter and was looking for something to do to maintain my leg strength in my close season. I had not ran since 2001 when I completed the Great North Run. That was a bad event for me, I had not prepared properly (with the benefit of hindsight) and had started at too quick a pace resulting in me barely being able to jog after 8 miles. I resolved “never again” at that point and indeed my exercise regime was non existent until I discovered cycling.
The couch to 5k scheme worked well for me all the way up until Week 3. Then I got the first of many calf injuries. This is apparently common for inexperienced runners and the trick is to know when you have recovered enough to resume. Something I didn’t master! Long story short, with repetitive injuries it took me 6 months until I could finally manage to jog for 30 minutes without stopping. So what to do for the next challenge? Well I attempted a 10k run in May and couldn’t complete without stopping. That was my limit I figured, so it was back to the bike for me. However, I then got the opportunity to run in The Great North Run for The Anthony Nolan Trust. After much umming and arring I decided to go for it for two very good reasons.
Firstly, The Great North Run is a race that I have previous history with. Prior to my 2001 effort I had completed the event on a number of occasions as a teenager, my pb was a respectable 1 hour 45 min (in 1987 I believe if memory serves) and having grown up in the North East it is a route and region that has a special place in my heart.
Secondly, I have been inspired by the work of Anthony Nolan. I have been introduced to the charity through a family friend who required a bone marrow transplant. The donor was identified through the Anthony Nolan Trust. It costs the trust over £60 to recruit and match every donor. Effectively the cost of saving a life. My wife Sally has recently joined Linton Jazz Band, a band who plays for charity and who are supporting Anthony Nolan this year. The opportunity to contribute to the fund raising was too good to refuse.
So with a goal for the year established I have reluctantly had to forego the bike temporarily. I attempted to carry on but yet another leg injury (this time to my right Achilles, a recurring problem) meant that I was struggling to keep up with both sports. Finally I have got to a stage where I can hopefully do myself justice, running with the aid of ankle supports. So, providing the ankle holds I will be taking part in the Great North Run this Sunday, almost a year since I had taken my first tentative jogging steps.
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