Pedals to Parkruns
Most people know that starting a new sport is hard. Surprisingly, changing from one sport to another is also quite difficult.
My single greatest sporting achievement occured in 2013, when I shoulder-barged and floored one of the other kids in the 4x400m B relay at sports day to take 1st place for my house at school. My second greatest sporting achievement came about after two mates dared me to sign up to cycle from London to Paris with them and, as they say, the rest is history.
Due to my inability to turn down a challenge, I have once again signed up for a forthcoming sporting event: the Birmingham Half Marathon. My housemate - media student by day, runner by other parts of day - signed up several months ago, and has mentioned the Great Run-organised event on a number of occasions. More recently, the topic came up once again whilst a collection of peers and I were at a local pub.
"You're doing it too," she mock-instructed me.
No chance. I'm a cyclist - cycling is a sit-down sport, running is not. End of conversation.
Or so I thought.
There must have been something in my lemonade, it seems, as that evening I was drawn to the sign-up page like a 'soccer mom' to a pyramid scheme. The overly confident Londoner last seen in the Peak District had emerged once again, bestowing upon me the firm belief that a half marathon was a walk in the park.
Judging by the route, it really will be a walk in the park - three, to be exact. It appears as though the walking (running) in between the parks is the bit to worry about. Never mind - like an Anglian Pheidippides, I shall conquer the race, and take the scalp of yet another oddly specific sporting event.
But achieving such a feat will require a carefully considered plan.
THE CAREFULLY CONSIDERED PLAN
Run some more
Do running goodly
"But Elliot," I hear you think*. "What on earth does each point on your list mean?"
Let's break it down:
Start running: Prior to signing up to the half marathon, I hadn't gone on a run for about a year. Even then, I couldn't manage more than a few kilometres without taking a breather. Cycling is my default form of exercise, and it demands different things from your muscles than running. Running also puts a fair amount of strain on your knees, back, and feet in a way that cycling does not. So, not only is running hard (you can quote me on that), but it's not something I'm used to doing, nor is it something I'm built for, having focused far more on cycling in recent years.
Run some more: As the age-old idiom goes, "don't run before you can walk". I need to get comfortable with running a 5k before I can move on to longer distances (at faster speeds). My current goal is to complete the half-marathon in two and a half hours or less, which would require an average pace of 7min 10sec/km. My first training run (see below) had an average pace closer to 5min 45sec/km which, in an ideal world, would produce a run time of just over two hours. Thus, I'll have to make an effort to improve both my pace and my endurance over long distances. This is based on a key assumption, though. I need to be able to average this pace over a distance nearly four times longer than my current training runs. This is a very bold assumption.
Do running goodly: This last one is probably more important than I'm currently making it out to be. Most people can run, but running long distances is obviously incredibly demanding, and bad technique can make it much harder. Great, I can currently run a sub-thirty minute 5k. But doing so causes my lower back to hurt sometimes, and I don't always trust my left knee when going full pelt. Running, much like the board game Othello, takes "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master." Practice makes perfect.
And so, my journey begins. Three or four runs a week for six and a bit weeks - easy, right? Unlikely. But hey, it's all for charity! Speaking of which - you can find my donation page here. I'm raising money for Birmingham Children's Hospital on this occasion. Thanks in advance for being charitable...!
* I don't actually hear you think.