Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Running Challenge: Jog On

Having spent a pretty penny on court bills and clocked up the miles chasing games I went back to my catalogue of sports - - and searched for a new active adventure that would increase my fitness whilst going easy on my wallet.

I found one option but realised that perhaps the effort levels would be too easy, even for me. No, a walking task was out of the question, but...walk a little quicker...quicker still...

I'd arranged to start this challenge with the company of a pal - feeling that agony was a dish best served to share - but was shocked when I pulled my door open to find that there, stood before me, was a man suitably dressed for the beach. Here in England, it was April.

Our last sporting outing together had seen me whip Johnny at badminton, I favoured that this was down to my growing confidence with the racquet but also that fitness levels had played a part. How wrong I was...

Beach Boy set an early pace which I calmly explained would be too quick for the distance we were going (a massive 1.5 miles I mght add). This advice went unheeded and so we proceeeded, with me barking the route directions out as required from a few yards behind. To my surprise he kept his pace consistently and while I gasped for air Johnny looked almost spritely.

To unsuspecting strangers it must have looked like a chunky bearded dude was chasing his effeminate gay lover around town as they argued.

By the end I thought my heart would burst out of my chest cavity and my dieing moments would be spent watching my bermuda-shorted pal holding my still beating life organ aloft like a winners trophy.

As with all events in this series I'm constrained to achieving them within one calendar month, yet time limits are set to be challenging to beyond my current limit. I'd opted to use the Olympic Marathon as my event and so here's how The Running Challenge looked:

The Running Challenge

  • Distance: 26.2 miles
  • Time Limit: 21 days
Now those of you that run may laugh but if you fancy yourself as superior because you can run 4 miles and go twice a week then why not take up the challenge to run a marathon in say 12 days. I wouldn't have run for a bus before I started this task (I've got a car, so why bother?). So I figured that to average more than a mile a day would be pretty f***ing challenging, thanks very much.

The days that followed saw me running around parks in the South East and the Midlands, running along the coast, running through town one stage I even came close to running a circuit of roundabouts in Milton Keynes*, but then I realised that this would mean getting completely changed on the road side in front of rush out traffic and opted against it. No need to cause further misery to poor sods bored in their cars.

*For those of you unfamiliar with Milton Keynes just envision an aerial map of a town which looks to have been designed by the guys who make crop circles in farmers fields of a night for fun.

I became so engrossed in running and all aspects of running that I found myself timing my food right in conjunction with when I could go for a run, drinking water at the right times to fit in with my run, timing my toilet breaks to fit in with my run, even dreaming of running. One day I couldn't even concentrate before going for a run and I'd only ran late the night before. What the heck was happening to me? I was becoming...a runner!

Or so I thought.

Then, on Day 10, I decided to up my 3 whole miles. Piss takers please bare in mind that I'd managed to double my distance in less than 2 you can carry on taking the piss (I know 3 miles is a breeze to most of you. Gits).

In thick mist I nailed it my friends! Enjoying the company of my gorgeous missus too (I think she rather liked my heavy breathing. Or maybe she kept staring at me and tracing back to our conversations in the early days when I'd possibly exagerated my sporting prowess) But then I got too cocky...I thought I could run 3 miles every day from here on out and bag my challenge easily. I was wrong again. The next day I did indeed bag 3 more but oh my gosh how my quads ached the morning after. I was walking like I had piles the size of footballs protruding from my posterior.

Running, I quickly realised, is two faced. From the outside you can look calm, almost serene at times if you slow the pace down, regulate your breathing and give yourself time to enjoy your surroundings. Whilst inside you are facing a constant mental battle; conflicting voices tell you to listen to your muscles and quit, you've run enough for today, and yet you also hear the need to push on, challenge yourself to make it to that curb, past those traffic lights, complete this stage and deal with the next one as it comes. It's up to you which voice to listen to but be sure that success only lies in listening to the latter.

On day 16 I rolled up at my bro's to enjoy the hospitality of him and his missus for a Friday eve. I'd ran 22 miles in the 15 previous days and had a thirst for a pint like few ofther weekends I've known.

We agreed to go to the pub. We disagreed on how to get there. I laced up my trainers.

At 1 mile I felt fine. At 2 miles my right leg ached like a bitch. At 3.5 miles I wanted to cut my own legs off and beat my bro with them. Words of encouragement which had initially been absorbed and inspirational, now struck my ears like patronising jabs.

Despite this at 4 miles I had the buzz of victory stuttering through my veins and when my shorter/fitter/older/more intelligent/harder on the eyes sibling posed the question of some additional distance to the route I gave the thumbs up (well I wasn't quite able to speak) and he took a left at the t-junction which I duly followed.

Further words of encouragement had me searching for sticks which I could throw at my beloved blood relative - this decision was a further balls up on my growing list of Boris's Sporting Fuck Ups, sitting there proudly with buying a crap York rowing machine and booking a court too late to get 2 matches in against badminton opponents I absolutely had to play.

Then came the divine words 'the finishing line is just around this bend...' I chuffing loved the little lad ahead of me who'd not yet broken a sweat but had seen fit to break wind which I'd had the 'pleasure' of running through (stank like a witches lady hole). '...and up this short hill'. Wanker.

Finally, after 27.1 miles in 16 days I reached the pub. Oh, and I finished The Running Challenge. Only to find the pub shut.

Oh no it wasn't, the dimwits had simply not turned their sign around.

With special thanks to...

Johnny - a cracking mate and dodgy short wearer (follow @Johnnyballs1 on Twitter!)

Mike - great bro (some day I'll challenge him to race...may just wait 50 years though so I can win)

Vicky - quality sis-in-law. Thanks for the hospitality and meeting us at the pub for a drink and to give us a lift home - I'd never have been able to walk back).

Jess - the missus of missuses, cheers for the support and for coming running with me along the coast in Southend.


  1. I loved it! I'm a first time runner myself. It is a daunting challenge, indeed. I'll not be attempting to take the piss, honey. No worries there. I haven't even made it past the 5 mile marker yet. Well done indeed. :)

  2. Great writing, your book will be fantastic, i used to run and loved it, and have just started again this week and after having two children what a nightmare it is but starting to feel like i'm getting through the pain barrer but to envisage doing 26 miles, well lets see, i'm only running to shift weight for the wedding so i will probably do 26 miles in 5 months, then stop and become a couch potatoe again ha ha ... well done cuz.... keep it up x

  3. what's your next challenge then?!!!

  4. Very amusing. And didn't that beer taste good! Go on, enter a 10K - you know you want to.