‘Little Pat’ has completed the first two weeks of his half-marathon training schedule. We know he’s still alive because he comes to work, but how is the training going?

Hi, ‘Little Pat’ here.

Beginnings

The hardest part of an undertaking like this can be deciding where to start. It doesn’t matter what I did 18 years ago (even if I could remember), that’s irrelevant now.

A healthy dose of realism can help at this point. For example; one of my running books contains a beginner’s training schedule for the half-marathon (I said beginners, mark you). It reads: ‘Day 1 (Sunday), long run – 60 minutes’. Whaaat??? Right now, I’d probably expire if I tried to run for 6 minutes! I’m not proud of that, but it’s where I am.

By contrast, an issue of Runner’s World has a schedule that really is for beginning runners. It starts with a mixture of running and walking. As the weeks progress, the runs get longer and the walks shorter. I can see how the programme’s structured and I like the look of it. What’s more, I think I can do it. This is the ideal starting point for me.

A word on style

Don’t worry, by ‘style’ I don’t mean biomechanics or anything scary, but clothing.

Next time you visit a newsagent, check out the front cover of magazines like Runner’s World and Triathlon. You’ll see the latest in high-tech, high-viz, high-stretch, high-fashion, figure-hugging apparel. Like the picture? Good, now forget it!

Instead, think Sylvester Stallone in Rocky (the clothing, not the physique!). We’re talking low-cost, low-tech, low-viz, low-stretch, low-fashion and definitely not figure-hugging here. Suffice to say that the net effect of my rig-out is that I look more like a man on the run, than someone training for a run.

What’s my point? Simply this: if you want to go running you don’t have to spend £££s on the latest designer gear before you start. Old tracksuits, jogging bottoms, indeed anything loose and comfortable, will serve just fine. Want to run after dark? No problem, get a fluorescent bib or sash – they’re cheap and easy to find.

Am I rubbishing the new gear? No, it’s great, but you can add it as you go along. The more you run, the better you’ll be able to differentiate between what’s essential and what’s merely desirable.

The exception to this principle of ‘make-do’ is running shoes. With these, it is very important NOT to skimp. I’ll talk about them another time.

The training

This is meant to be a training diary, so I’d better say something about how the training is going. Overall, the first 2 weeks have gone very well. I like the RW plan and am enjoying putting it into practice.

The only problem I encountered was an Achilles pull on my first weekend run. Stupidly, I kept on running even when I could feel it tightening – ‘twas a ‘blokey’ reaction I suppose; I didn’t want to ‘wimp out’ in week 1 of the programme!

That was a mistake. As a result, my leg was so painful that I had to spend the rest of the day with it supported and my ankle wrapped in an ice pack. The one positive factor was that, being the last session of the week, I had 2 days to rest it before running again.

Even so, I was pretty apprehensive come the 1st session of week 2. To eliminate the doubts, I made doubly sure that I warmed up sufficiently and went back to my old method of stretching (I’ll talk more about stretching in another blog).

I’m delighted to say it worked. I completed the 2nd week’s training free of pain and with no more problems.

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of weeks 1 & 2.

Week 1

Pros: completed programme, lost 4 lbs in weight (yes!!!).

Cons: very sore Achilles tendon.

Week 2

Pros: completed programme with no injuries, enjoying the running.

Cons: didn’t lose any weight.

Alright, I didn’t watch my eating this week, so the fact that I didn’t lose weight wasn’t a great surprise. I’ll need to take control of that though, because I’ve no intention of lugging 2.5 stones of unnecessary baggage for 13 miles!

See you next time.

P.