When running is an uphill task

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.


Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.