November 30, 2012 7:39 pm

When running is an uphill task

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‘My centre of gravity is in the wrong place, I land too much on the front of the foot and my arms are not helping at all’
A female runner. Illustrated by James Ferguson©James Ferguson

Five weeks to go, and I am almost back to where I started. On January 5 I will be attempting the Great Winter Run in Edinburgh – and yes, it is a mere 5k, but have you seen how many hills there are in Edinburgh? I can see why the event is sponsored by Bupa.

My training was going well, but has suffered two setbacks; the first as a result of engaging a coach, in an attempt to meet my target of 40 minutes. (And before comparing this unfavourably to Mo Farah, who ran the Olympic 5k in under 14 minutes, can I remind you that he is not a middle-aged overweight mother of three?) I was introduced to my coach by my colleague and Running Girlfriend, who insisted that his regime had “transformed” her running.

Well, it certainly transformed mine, backwards. I approached the first session pragmatically, albeit reluctantly – after all, who wants someone filming their rear end as they run? Mine needs a wide-angle lens. It turns out my centre of gravity is in the wrong place, I land too much on the front of the foot and my arms are not helping at all. But when I started to address this, I found I was taking shorter steps and, while indeed faster over short distances, could no longer manage the overall time I had achieved previously. So I went backwards on my plan by about five weeks.

This reminds me of Mr M – whenever he is taught a new golf technique the immediate outcome is that his play actually gets worse before any improvement kicks in. Not that I am thinking of taking up golf. Ladies, is it just me or do you find that men offer a continual stream of “helpful” suggestions as you go around the course? I would suggest that if they were that helpful in bed we would all be better off.

Maybe I should take up more sedentary pursuits. One of my Single Girlfriends, possessed of a vast house in Scotland, has invited a group of us for a weekend to learn bridge. I have tried this before and frankly think I am better off running. At least I can listen to some decent music while delivering a mediocre performance.

Sport has not been a highlight of the Moneypenny house recently, unless you count the Wallabies’ defeat of England at Twickenham. Mr M refrained from popping into the pub for a gloating drink, but texted the landlord to make him aware of his restraint – which, as the landlord observed, is much the same thing.

Cost Centre #2 plays rugby as his sport of choice. Last month at the end of an away match against Brighton College, he collapsed with extreme pain in his neck. Neither Mr M nor I were watching (too far to travel), but CC#1, who is at Sussex University, was. His brother was immobilised as a precautionary measure and taken to hospital for X-rays. There then followed the inevitable wait in A&E on a Saturday night. CC#1 kept #2’s spirits up and drip-fed him water from a plastic cup, all the time sending us a stream of images from his smartphone. CC#2 was eventually discharged with nothing more than bad bruising and some strong painkillers, and #1 was crowned the family hero, at least for the day.

When CC#2 ever so slightly whinged about the wait in A&E, I let him know that he had been lucky to have the services of a paramedic on site, hospital admission, a trauma specialist and a radiology department, all on a Saturday night and totally without charge. A few hours’ wait seems a small price to pay.

I am very much hoping not to need medical assistance in Edinburgh on January 5, but you never know.

The second setback to my 5k ambition is that I returned from Australia with a shocking cold that morphed into sinusitis and tonsillitis. I have only just finished a course of antibiotics and feel human again. So it’s been two-and-a-half weeks without training and I am back to square one. I am not sure I am cut out for exercise.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

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