There are a number of key ingredients to a successful long distance run. The correct training is one, running attire, running shoes, being able to see your shoes over your belly is another. Highly underrated however is placement. Just like you don’t put the sweet aisle where the fat dudes cannot see them or open a fried chicken shop next to a gym. Successful running is about placement, placement and more placement.
If someone is in ridiculously flimsy shorts in the middle of winter and if they don’t have a carer watching them intently or are not giggling menacingly or dribbling – then they are likely to be a semi-professional runner. If they are stretching enthusiastically, like they know what they are doing or they have a serious expression, just nod at everyone and offer little talk – they are also likely to be a semi professional runner.
Now you don’t want to be anywhere near these guys. Nope!
Why get depressed on a run as they confidently take off into the stratosphere, kicking dust in your face and effortlessly lapping you later? While you are thinking of that plate of food and ice cream you are going to consume later they are thinking about the next run. Steer clear my friend.
Unfortunately, it’s not as obvious as standing next to the guy with a rum in one hand and a fag in the other. No, you want to be just ahead of the guy who is wiping a Starbucks cream frothy thingy from his mouth, finishing off a McMeal, happens to be rounder than you are or is limping. That was my belief, but I decided to take it on the chin and go wherever I was put. New running shorts, new padded running socks, new headphones, new girlie water bottle and new MP3 player, freshly cropped aerodynamic head.
I was ready.
Uncle Kevin was our organiser. This is his third 10K for Prostate Cancer. The first one was in honour of my operation, the second run I joined in and today’s run is for one of the runners who has a loved one who has been diagnosed but unfortunately at a late stage. We all did the run for very different personal reasons. Most just wanted to bring awareness to a really important issue, while others have lost loved ones. If you had said a few years back that I would be doing an annual 10K run I would have said, “why are you swearing at me bruv?”
During training, Uncle Kevin, was talking about how fantastic his Keto diet had been and how he had lost a stone and a half. With this being his final week he would be eating protein only, resting, hydrating and watching his weight. I thought long and hard about that excellent example of healthy, dedicated living. Therefore, the night before I had a proper runners power meal. Two lamb patties, a long glass of malibu with diet coke and vanilla Haagen Dazs. As I rubbed and patted the satisfied belly below me, I knew I had made the right decision and was ready.
The build up to the run, for me, was a little more haphazard than this time last year when I had run the Movember 10K. I had been doing my own uninspiring 3K on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. One day when our organiser, Uncle Kevin, had announced to the group that he and his brother had got up to 5K during their training I knew I had to step things up. Like an orphaned squirrel, I joined the brothers morning run, seeking inspiration and encouragement. I diligently made the 20 minute trip twice a week, braving some of the musty early morning Ubers in the process. We started off well enough but always on the way back I would be left behind. Every single time! Once they even came back to look for me as I was so far behind but I flourished. It wasn’t the completely fat, unfit boy running which led to me being left behind each run. Nope, I had made an important, regular and unwanted new friend called shin splints. For those of you that don’t know what shin splints are, its like someone chopping off your feet and running directly on your shins instead. I had only experienced it in small doses previously but this time around it was vicious and prolonged. It wasn’t until the second to last run that I did with them that I learned to stop and stretch it out.
Of course, they still left me long behind.
Quietly, we drove the empty pandemic roads to the agreed meeting place. Most of us were at the agreed meeting place at 9am, we only had a couple of stragglers to wait for. With us ducking Boris’ COVID group meeting diktat, we were going to have staggered starts and no supporters. Luckily, our friends and family would know of our own integrity with regards to the fund raising. Therefore, it came as a bit of a surprise that lucky old me would receive a classic text from one of my friends. They had kept saying that they were going to make a donation, nearer the time, and left me this final text the day before the run,
“I cannot open links on my phone as it was hacked. So you will have to type out the bank details in full as I’ve already requested, and once you’ve done the run and during the run send me a footage so I’ll be able to see….”
I looked at the text and looked again as you do and then quietly put the phone down. My first thought was “and if you hold out your leg, I can pee on it and you can go and verify my DNA as well”. However, I took the higher ground and left it right there.
I only had two concerns about the run today. Falling flat on my face and needing to go and have a pee. The protocol for falling over is pretty simple,
- If you fall over DO NOT make a noise. Ninja mode is essential.
- Get up quicker than you fell down.
- Avoid falling anywhere near those young, greasy, jobless COVID incubators called teenagers. They will record your demise and make it viral before they offer to help.
- If you are really injured, you have to style it out like you are OK and walk away slowly or pretend you are doing a stretch. Let the witnesses walk away and then seek medical attention.
Needing to go for a pee is a little trickier. One morning when I went over to Uncle Kevin’s for the morning run I had made the mistake of drinking an energy drink the night before beforehand to see if that would help my performance. Yeah, I only made that mistake the first time. I needed to obey the call twice before the run and immediately afterwards. When you have prostate cancer, sometimes when you need to go you JUST NEED TO GO. Now Paula Radcliffe, running a marathon watched by billions on TV can drop her shorts and obey the call of nature. Let us just point our cameras somewhere else and say no more about it. Black man – running, in the middle of Chelsea, hmm choose your headline in tomorrow’s Sun newspaper or choose which matching pair of steel bracelets will match that running top. Luckily, I avoided the call.
Finally, we were all together and took our final pictures and the nine of us all set out together as a block of blue and white Prostate Cancer UK vests. That lasted all of about 5 minutes with the runners doing what they do best and running speedily off and the group quickly thinned out. For me, the first 3K is always the hardest. Once I overcome the urge to quit it’s a steady and refreshing countdown to completing the 10K. Unlike the Movember last year, I had no dude in a pink panther fancy dress to spur me on and just settled down to the music. With few people on the street there were no dramas. In fact the only thing that happened was Uncle Kev was FaceBook live filming and he has footage of approaching someone, who was completely unaware, not just picking out the darkest corner of their nostril but in danger of dislodging brain material.
The 3K soon became 6K and 8K was the home front. The shin splints were actually not too bad. When I heard the final reminder at the 9K point I tried a sprint and failed miserably. My final time was 1hour 8minutes and 21 seconds. Four minutes longer than last year but I was still very happy. Looking at the calories burnt was a little disappointing at only 839. A Big Mac comes in at 550 calories. That made me smile and I can justify that celebratory Big Mac.
I will have my guilt free Bic Mac and you can encourage someone to go and get tested.
You can still donate until its closed later on in the week,