… Beating Mo Farah at his own game

In need of a bit of a health re-boot I have started jogging.

Re-boot is probably the wrong word because it was the hanging up the boots that left me needing more exercise in the first place.

I gave up playing rugby a few years ago, several years after rugby had given up on me.

I had got the point where I was just spending an hour and a half a week getting steamrolled by teenagers.  I’d always been dubious of any hobby I have to tape my ears down for, but when you get an injury in September and hear yourself thinking “no worries, I’ll shake that one off in May and June”, you know it’s time to bow out while you can still straighten back up again.

And so it was running.

I reckoned as a sixteen stone fortysomething getting a bit of exercise and upping my fitness levels would likely help my long-term health.  Conservatively I reckon regular running might increase my life expectancy by, say, six months. 

Unfortunately, when I did the maths: at 3 runs a week over the next thirty years I’d be spending LITERALLY that whole six months running just to break even.

But despite that, in a faded tee-shirt, trainers that had never seen more physical activity than the occasional summer barbecue, and the Leicester Medics’ rugby socks (1997-8 season) which I’d never thrown out in case I got a call up for the British Lions, I hit the open road.

Now as you may have guessed as a sixteen stone fortysomething I am not naturally designed for running.

This did not come easy to me.

I recall a (genuine!) conversation with Dave who used to coach one of my old teams:

Dave:     Rick?  Has no-one ever taught you how to run?

Me:        What do you mean “taught you how to run”?  Nobody teaches you to run.  You just – you know – run.

Dave:     Well I’m sure it’s a very efficient way of covering the ground but you’re never going to get any speed up.

I found out he was right years later when I did an ironically title fun-run and there were photographers along the course.  I searched my number and in every SINGLE photo of me both my feet are on the ground at the same time.  It was like they took a series of pictures of a fat red man in shorts and air-brushed out his roller boots.

But I’ll tell you what.

Running is hard!

With training it became an interesting 50:50 bet as to which would give up first, my lungs or my legs.

After a while I reached an equilibrium point where all of me hurt equally. 

Which led me to another decision point.  Distraction or no distraction?

Mrs Dr Brown uses running as a mindfulness meditation, taking joy from the simple beauty of movement and nature while gliding effortlessly over the ground.

I, however, require classic Dad Rock to distract me from the fact that every fibre of my being wants to stop for a rest, a snooze, or some chips. 

And music choice is important.

Once, a long time ago while working on the Isle of Man, I accidentally had Jamiroquai in my Walkman (I told you it was a long time ago) when I was expecting Paul Simon, set out way too fast and was sick over my own trainers on the steep bit up from Peel Road.

But there’s a community of dad running which keeps us going.  Not like the old ladies hewn from solid oak who bid you a hearty “Good morning!” in the lake district, but a nod between dad runners that says “Hi” but means “I sped up as I approached you so I looked more proficient than I really am, but you were further away than I expected and now I am knackered and wish to die!”

On a Sunday morning a while back one of my friend dad joggers was lumbering towards us while I was pushing the boy in the buggy.  Now to this day I don’t know which it was, but he raised a hand as he approached us.  He was either a) waving at my toddler or b) expecting a high five from me as he passed.

I got confused. 

I got frightened. 

What if he was waving and I got it wrong and slapped him when we wasn’t expecting it? 

Reader, I left him hanging. 

Still don’t know if that was right.

Still feel bad.

But I persevered.   Via plodding the streets, Couch to 5K, a few Parkruns (brilliant by the way: http://www.parkrun.org.uk) in 2018 I entered the Bury 10K. Without any irony, the start line for those of us of in the heavyweight division with my age, circumference and predicted time was outside Burger King.

But my reputation preceded me for the big one – the Manchester half marathon.  They clearly thought I was better than I was. 

My start time was 12:15.

The big crowd draw was Sir Mo Farah who started with the elite athletes with the BBC sports camera at 10:30.

Now I’d done pretty well in the Bury 10K having run all ten of them, stopping only once for a wee having drunk too much Lucozade Sport at the start: but I felt it was a bit much to ask me to catch up with quadruple Olympic gold medalist Sir Mo, especially giving him a one hour forty-five minute head start.

I never did reel him in.

That was the peak of my running career.  I would say it’s been downhill ever since but since I live part way up a hill that’s only half true.

But despite my crunchy knees, my resolute paunch and my glass ankles, I suspect it does me good.

And as soon as I work out how I’ll let you know.

6 thoughts on “… Beating Mo Farah at his own game

  1. Running is really hard, so well done you. The only time you’ll catch me running is when there’s the inevitable zombie apocalypse and I’m dashing away with my favourite child and a selection of snacks under each arm, to a safe bunker somewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: