After months and months of running, training through rain and shine, aches and pain, thousands of dedicated souls will be participating in the Great South Run. At 11am this Sunday, 24,000 runners will gather at Southsea Seafront and set off on this 10 mile road running race event.
Unfortunately, I will be joining them. Although to be frank, without much of the dedication of my fellow competitors. Although I feel I did suffer a bit of the pain.
8 months ago, I foolishly decided to sign up for the Great South Run, a 10 mile run through Portsmouth. “10 miles?” I said to myself. “I can do that in my car quick as a flash. And I used to do loads of sports at school, so surely I’m still fit. How hard can it be?”
Packed full of good intentions of both running for charity and forcing my dad to lose weight, as well as delusions of grandeur in aiming for a time of one hour – that’s 6 minutes a mile – I prepared in earnest.
I bought new trainers, made running music playlists, even invested in a running app on my iPhone. I was more than ready to go. But, in the end, it never did go – it was all a bit half-hearted.
Firstly, it took me ages to actually go on my first run. When I eventually did start, I devised some weird strategy of only running a short distance really fast, believing that I’d easily step it up as the months progressed. In reality, I found running a mile hard and couldn’t be bothered to run any further.
On several occasions, I didn’t even run back where I started, to my halls, thus walking back with my running gear on. Trust me, it’s embarrassing to be walking in running gear. People looking at you fills you with a sense of shame.
Eventually, I stopped running altogether. It was always too dark, too cold, too rainy. I was always too tired, too busy, had too much work to do. I’d do it another day, during the summer, when I was back home. My intended eight months of good solid running time trickled away and soon evaporated into two months.
I considered giving up at this point, but the thought of the £38 entry fee (which I’d already paid) spurred me to carry on. And so, I started pushing myself to run actually credible distances. But it was still occasional and after each run, I spent the next two days with stiff legs, walking like John Wayne and pathetically crawling up stairs.
All three aims, of course, are now non-existent: my dad was injured; my lack of organisation had failed the charity front, to my eternal shame. To top it all, a complete lack of any dedicated training meaning before a month ago meant I hadn’t run over five miles, and even those runs had taken me pretty much an hour.
But, the week before, I’m quite looking forward to it. Two runs of 10 miles in the last 3 weeks means that at the very least I know I can actually run the distance without dying – and, in fact, the average time for the distance. It turns out 10 miles isn’t that hard really and that Nike was right. All you need to do is ‘Just Do It’… rather than do nothing.
So if you have nothing to do this weekend, pop down to Portsmouth and support the thousands who will be going through this 10 mile ordeal, (or at least watch it on TV). You might not think it’s too hard, but trust me, don’t knock it before you try it.
Part Two of this article will tell if I really can just do it, or my confidence is disastrously unfounded…