8am, Sunday. Normal people are sleeping, or having breakfast and enjoying a lie in. Running people are putting on their trainers and strapping on their heart monitors. Not that I’m suggesting that runners are weird, obviously…but I could have been having a bacon roll in bed and instead I was out for a ten mile run.
Legs: We hurt! Ow!
Me: Oh come on, legs, I know I did a little bit of faster running yesterday and then forgot to stretch, but you’ll be okay in a minute once you warm up.
Legs: (sullenly) We still hurt. Our shins are sore.
Me: (running slowly, ignoring legs)
iPod: Hahahaha, you liked the shuffle the other day. Well, today you’re going to suffer. Manic shouty stuff from The Prodigy okay with you?
Me: It’s only half eight in the morning, I can’t do beeps and screeching yet.
Legs: We don’t want to run today. We want to sit down on the couch whilst you eat chocolate.
Me: Oh come on legs, we’ll just jog gently up to the next telegraph pole then we can walk.
Legs: Hrmph. Only if you promise to stretch us.
iPod: Here you are, have a bit of depressing Johnny Cash
Me: Dire Straits yesterday, and now this? Are you having a joke?
Johnny Cash: I will let you down…I will make you hurt…
Me: Thanks Johnny, you’re not really helping here.
Legs: He has a point. We’re giving up.
Me: Fine. We’ll sit on this fire hydrant thingy on the grass verge. I don’t mind sitting on a roadside looking stupid for five minutes. We’ve got miles to go yet.
Legs: Not if we don’t want to. We might just make you walk home.
five minutes later
Me: Look at me, I’m running like a proper running person!
Legs: We’re fine, we are. We never said we couldn’t run, we just didn’t want to.
Bladder: Why did you have a big glass of water before you left the house?
Me: Oh shut up, it wasn’t that big. Just reabsorb it and stop moaning.
Bladder: I need the loo.
Me: runrunrunrunrun (ignoring)
five more minutes later
Bladder: I need the loo, I need the looooooooooo
Me: Right, that’s fine. When we get to the next village, I’ll ask someone if I can use their loo.
My mother: (what’s she doing here?) You can’t just knock on a stranger’s door and ask to use their loo, they might chop you into pieces and put you in their freezer.
Bladder: Hello? Getting desperate here…
Me: (not running any more, too tricky with legs crossed)
Bladder: Just pee behind a hedge. Paula Radcliffe did it during the London Marathon. You’ll be like a REAL runner then.
Me: But there are people in cars, and walking their dogs. And I don’t even have a tissue.
Bladder: Yes you do, it’s in your pocket. Did I mention I need the loo?
five more rather desperate minutes
Bladder: That hedge will do! Or that one!
Bladder: That’s it, climb over that gate – you know you want to…
Me: (let’s gloss over this part)
Legs: Oh you are so embarrassing. We’re going to run quite fast now, so we don’t have to be seen with you.
Bladder: Ooh, that’s better. Isn’t that better? Admit it, you feel better.
Me: (wondering what it’s like to run without body parts having a conversation with you)
runrunrun, through village, up hills, down hills, past cyclists, runrunrun, look at me, I’m running!
Me: Oh for f*cks sake, what now?
Coccyx: You broke me a few years ago, d’you remember?
Me: Oh GO away. Why didn’t I drug you all with ibuprofen before I left?
Coccyx: (sullen mutterings)
runrunrun walkwalkwalk runrunrun
Me: Come on legs, you can do it!
Legs: We hate you. Running is stupid. Can we have a bath when we get home?
Shoulders: We don’t want to trouble you, but we’re a little bit sore…
Got on the treadmill this evening, where I only had a short time to run by the time I got the children into bed, after they insisted on watching our wedding video and asked me to try on my dress. My children are bonkers.
I managed to stick to the treadmill interval programme for the first time ever today. Usually I die after about ten minutes and have to slow it down or risk shooting off the end and squashing the dog to death. So a 3mph warmup, 4mph walk, 5 mph running and I managed to do intervals of run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes without dying. Having watched the marathon videos on YouTube has really helped – not the elite runners pounding round in less than 3 hours, but the people jog-walking with pain etched on their faces. Virtually all of them are doing it for charity, most of them for personal reasons, and knowing that I’m doing it for a good cause makes the pain in my legs seem less important.
Milestone no2 – this is a big one. So there I was in the post-run shower, musing on how I was going to fit in a run this weekend whilst fitting in ballet lessons, meetings, swimming lessons, and the general weekend chaos of life with four children. Then it came to me – instead of sitting in the car reading a book for 45 minutes whilst my daughter does ballet, I could run! So I’ll be driving there in my running gear, and doing a quick run along the country lanes. And if that’s not thinking like a runner, I don’t know what is.
If this the runner’s high, I think it should probably be a class A drug! Just done the BEST run ever on the treadmill.
Started with a five minute gentle jog, then I did run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute for almost an hour on 1% incline, finishing with a couple of minutes run on a 5% incline. It was amazing. I’ve been reading about running styles and I had a feeling that if I could get out of the heelstriking habit I’d be able to solve the whole pain in the shins, legs giving up before I ran out of breath problem.
I ran the whole thing landing on my forefoot, and I felt a million times lighter, which isn’t bad going for someone who is about as far from a runner in physique as it’s possible to be. I’ve noticed before when Jessica runs she sort of floats along (Jessica is now going to comment and say something disparaging about herself, I predict) and I think that’s partly down to the fact that she is a forefoot runner. Oh, and partly down to the fact that she probably weighs about half what I do.
This is all a bit inarticulate because I’m so excited about how easy it was tonight compared to any other run, and because it was so good I want to bounce up and down squeaking with glee. That doesn’t translate very well to the written word though, so just imagine it.
This week, not today. But I had you going for a minute there, didn’t I?
Today: 3.7 miles
With running trousers on.
In the middle of the day.
Today was groundbreaking stuff. I ran with Paula, who is sneakily fitter than she lets on, due to her strange habit of using the time when her smallest one is at preschool with my smallest one to go and do Body Combat classes at the gym. I on the other hand prefer to relax in the nearest coffee shop and eat a bacon sandwich on the pretext of doing the Christmas shopping. I can write this safe in the knowledge that Mr Marathonmummy never reads my blog, probably because he has to live with my incessant witterings on a daily basis, and has done for nearly 15 years.
Anyway, back to running. So up the hill we went, walking because we were warming up and not because the hill is hideous at all. Run run run, walk walk walk, run run run, walk walk walk. Onto the main road which has a footpath but also has lorries and things driving past at 60mph. Note to self: slightly short, loose fitting t-shirt + backdraft from lorries = bit of an eyeful for the following cars. I ended up having to jog along holding the hem of my top to avoid scaring the drivers. Run run, walkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkchatchat, oops this isn’t marathon trainingrunrunrun, up a hill (vomit), down a hill (clever trick from P: lengthen stride slightly to avoid hideous jarring feeling, and it works), run run run. Passed whilst running by someone we know, so we have proof it really happened, then home for water, stretching, cups of tea and oh the absolute bliss of a hot bath in the middle of the day. Thank goodness for preschoolers who still have an afternoon nap.
Paula: Right, shall we run when we get to that post?
Me: Yes, good idea.
Paula: We’re still not running, have you noticed?
Me: But we’re thinking about running. That counts, doesn’t it?
So this week’s mileage is 13.6. Hooray for me, and for lovely running chums, and for all the moral support from people telling me they think I must be mad but well done.
This one isn’t about running. It’s about why we’re running. Three years ago today, Zoe and I lived through the hardest day of our life; our father’s funeral. He was only 55 years old, and looked ten years younger. He was dynamic, funny, stubborn, loyal, kind and thoughtful. He lived in a tiny village in Lincolnshire which he happily referred to as ‘the arsehole of nowhere’, having escaped London ten years before. The last thing he did was typical of him: he’d just taken on some new employees and he took them out for a meal, because he was worried they’d be lonely and bored, having just moved to the area. That night he went home, felt ill, and died of a heart attack before the ambulance arrived.
It was impossible for anyone to believe – my dad was tall, strong, fit enough to beat the younger men at work in their occasional after-work sprint, played the odd game of football, ate a reasonably healthy diet, very rarely drank alcohol and had never smoked in his life. Everyone agreed that yes, he was a couple of stone overweight, but ‘he carried it well’, so it didn’t matter. Only of course, it does matter. His diet wasn’t really perfect (too many stops at service stations for a Ginsters pasty and a Mars bar in lieu of lunch on the way to see his beloved Falkirk FC) and in reality he was probably four stone overweight, but at 6’3″ nobody really noticed.
Heart Research work in the community to encourage lifestyle choices for a healthier heart. In other words, they get out there and tell people what they should and shouldn’t be doing. They help perfectionists like me, who would rather do nothing than not give it 100%, to realise that every positive step helps. Because I’m overweight, because I’m in a high risk category, because of my family history, because my cholesterol levels were raised at my last blood test – their amazing work makes me realise that even my pathetic attempts at training for the marathon are helping to make my heart strong. And when the time comes and I start begging you all for sponsorship (don’t worry, I’m not hinting…yet!) remember it’s not for me, it’s for the amazing work that they do and for the lives they save.