I remember when I was at grammar school and entering the 400 metres on sports day. Yes yes, it was so long ago that we were using old money to buy two ounces of Yorkshire Mixtures from the Tuck Shop for tuppence ha’penny. I wasn’t really an athlete and to the best of my recollection I had only run 400 metres in multiples of 100 spread over days, possibly weeks. But somehow with my young, confident legs and supreme self-belief (well I was a grammar school student) led me to put my name down to bring glory to the Bronte house.
It wasn’t until the loud ‘go’ that followed the ‘ready’ and ‘set’ that I appreciated just how far 400 metres were. Helped by the slight decline of the grass track and the cheers of my Bronte house friends, I wasn’t exactly flying to begin with, but I was certainly fluttering fast. Somewhere between 200 and 300 metres those legs lost their confidence and as the others left me way behind I began to wonder where I’d gone wrong. Maybe just believing I could do it wasn’t enough. It certainly wasn’t, Bronte came bottom thanks to me. I was not popular.
I’ve certainly learned from my mistake. So much so that when, in a moment of madness, spurred on by the enthusiasm of my mates in Eccleshill Road Runners, and the promise of genuine seaside fish and chips and beer to follow, I entered the Bridlington Half Marathon and made a promise there and then to all Bronte housers that I’d rely on more than confidence.
To be honest I was scared to death at the idea of actually running just over 13 miles, I was struggling with seven miles and being an ex grammar schooler wasn’t going to help me with the headwind on Bridlington seafront come 21 October. I definitely needed a plan. Thankfully, a chance conversation with Peter May over a sports massage gave me a personalised plan and one that my inbuilt aversion to structure and rules could cope with. Five activities, most of it running, and two rest days a week, building up the miles with a long run getting longer. Five weeks in and I noticed the difference, the same hills weren’t quite as hilly and my ploddy cadence started to lose its ploddiness. I even got two personal bests in three weeks at the parkrun and knocked four minutes off last year’s time in the Kirkstall Abbey Seven on Sunday.
Today I ran 11.5 miles. Today I knew that my hope to run the 13-and-a-bit miles would be well-placed, even if I wasn’t. Today I was glad I’d worked hard to train rather than rely on self-belief and not-so-confident legs. And there’s still three weeks to go!