Fundamentally I’m pretty lazy and after I stopped cycling in September I didn’t do much exercise for a while. Come the end of October I decided that I really shouldn’t let things slip too much so set myself up in the garage doing a fitness dvd workout called ‘Insanity’. Insanity is pretty much what it says – Insane! I’ve never struggled so much with all the jumping, plyometrics and full body work-out torture it puts you through. Around that time I also decided I wanted to start trying to run. Running is a great way to keep fit, doesn’t cost anything, is time efficient and can be done anywhere – perfect for a busy lifestyle. So that was my plan for the future, to throw in a mix of regular Insanity workouts and runs, and that would keep me ticking over and able to consume the odd bar of chocolate (actually, make that regularly consume big bars of chocolate!) without any guilt.
In my lifetime I’ve done hardly any running. When I was at senior school I was the one who was made to run the 1500m at sports day (the longest track event) because I was the ‘sporty one’. But to me it was ghastly and like running the Marathon. Because it was such a ridiculously long way and took all afternoon, I placed a water bottle at the start line so I could drink after each lap – laughable I know! When on the rowing team we would at random be made to go running. I was the worst in the team, it would be agony and my heart rate would be at maximum just shuffling along very slowly. A few years ago I attempted a bout of running training in order to get the benefits of some cross training. But my efforts were futile because I could only get as far as 30mins maximum and that was with the last 10mins being an agonising hobble because my knees or hips would be giving way.
So at the beginning of November I decided I was going to have one last attempt to beat my running phobia and try and become a better runner. This time though I was going to do it properly. None of this thinking I was a fit athlete and should be able to churn out a 30 min threshold run just like that. I was going to take it incredibly slowly and build up steadily so I began with a very easy 10mins. At 10mins my knees were feeling it and when I stepped it up to 15min I had to stop and walk the last few minutes home. A few days later I tried again, I managed 15mins and only got pain just at the end. A few sessions keeping it at 15mins and it started to get easier so I pushed it out to 20mins. When 20mins was ok I’d look to extend it in small increments, always finding that I would go through the same scenario of stopping with pain, walking the rest, recovering for a few days and trying again. It was a slow but controlled, sensible build up of running to get my body accustomed to it and with a diligent stretching routine I gradually made progress and could focus on increasing the speed I was doing these short runs at. It was just before Christmas that I hit the 40min marker. This was a massive break through for me – I’d never run continuously for that long ever!
Around this time the thought of doing an Ironman as one last sporting challenge had been floating around. I guess having run 40mins and enjoyed it (something I hadn’t ever thought possible six weeks previously) gave me the positivity and motivation to believe that anything could be possible! Just before Christmas I signed up to do the Ironman and firmly laid it down as a goal to achieve. My Ironman training officially started on December 26th and with my new Garmin running watch I started my run training with the aim of turning that 40min achievement into a 26mile marathon achievement.