20th Jun 2019
The lead-up to my first 5k hasn’t been ideal. Festivals, nights out and basically just not training. Now the day of reckoning has arrived…
In a fit of confidence and a desire to do a good deed, my friends and I signed up to run the 5K Pride Run.
Three out of our four have never done any form of an organised run before. There’s not one FitBit between us but we chant the mantra “you never regret a swim” so that we squeeze a few laps in before work. We’re not fitness freaks and we’re not slobs. Despite the name of our WhatsApp group (FitFam LitFam), we are your average Joes – your very average Joes – when it comes to fitness.
The run is happening on Friday. It is now Thursday. Will we make it across the finish line in one piece? Will we find any time to practise? Will we realise that it’s called training and not practise?
As a wise man named Justin Bobby, of The Hills fame, once said truth and time tells all.
12 days to go
We’re out of breath. We’re panting. We are most definitely sweating more than anyone else around us is. In fact, the crowd has created a sort of spectator’s circle to get a better look.
Dismayed at what we’ve just done, my pal turns to me and, out of breath, he says “we really need to start training”.
We haven’t impressed everyone with our sprinting skills. Instead, we treated them to a contemporary dance routine to Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart with my friend draping his legs around my waist as I spin my wheelchair around in circles. Sports stars we are not but performers… well, we do love the limelight.
10 days to go
“So… should we meet up this week and, I don’t know, run?” The WhatsApp group is getting nervous.
None of us, bar one team member, has broken a sweat outside of a dance floor or a festival in the past month. The conversation around training dissipates as we discuss our plans for Body & Soul, the festival we’re going to the morning after as a treat for our hard work and dedication. Last summer’s tent has been aired and already packed into the boot of a car. Our tickets are 50% acquired and it turns out that I’m doing two back-to-back DJ sets on the Saturday of the festival.
I’ll be going from a 5K run to five hours of playing tunes in the space of 24 hours. Grand.
(Oh, and shameless plug: come see me play at 2.30pm on Saturday at the Midnight Circus stage and then sprint over to the Secret Garden for 5.15pm. There will be Kylie, there will be Girls Aloud and there will be Carly Rae Jepsen. End plug.)
Six days to go
I’m at a wedding. It’s safe to say that I’ve completely forgotten about the run but I’ve decided, in hindsight, that dancing to Britney Spears’ Toxic is a high cardio workout because hairflips take work.
This will stand to me at a later date. I’m sure of it.
Five days to go
The hangover consumes me. I’m looking at my calendar and because I’ve said yes to a thousand jobs. I have no free evenings at all leading up to the run.
I toy around with the idea of getting up at 6am to fit everything in, but I’m not a psychopath.
Four days to go
My running pack arrives in the post – a lovely red “We are the Champions” t-shirt, pins and my running number – with as a timely reminder that I need to take action.
Our training plans soon morph into training plans for Body & Soul, with each team member treating the festival itself like a marathon. With my quick break between DJ sets, we’ve developed a pitstop plan that comes with a hydration station, a pee break and a make-up touch up. The essentials.
Related: Running with a hangover
Someone wisely, or perhaps cruelly, informed me that a friend of theirs ran a 5K a couple of weeks ago and they’re still in bits. “But… 5K is a doddle, no? It’s like a light jog into town?” I ask, naively.
They answer with a pitiful glare.
Three days to go
I swim a lap. I inhale water. I swim another lap. I inhale less water. Due to all of the weddings, works and festivals I’ve been attending, I haven’t been swimmin in two and a half weeks. My usual 15 laps is down to 10. Or maybe 11.
It’s very hard to count when you’re trying not to drown.
With my morning swim done, I realise that I don’t have anything to run in so I order a pair of loose-fitting running shorts from ASOS. I cleverly add in a hefty walk on my way to review Pink in the RDS.
Walking to and from the venue, I clock in 8.4K but seeing Pink literally zipline across the crowd, spinning upside down and singing live, she puts this run into perspective.
Walking home, I put some extra pep into my steps/rolls and by the time I get to my front door, my top lip is laden with sweat and I have to take my t-shirt off immediately to cool down. Pink would be proud.
Two days to go
My shorts arrive – next day delivery from Asos is a saviour – and they’re fab. I made a wise sartorial decision there.
One day to go
Am I hungover? No, you’re hungover. Don’t look at me. I said don’t look at me! Working late last night, I fell into the tiny trap of meeting pals for one drink. One drink turned into four.
Once upon a time, I could sink away many more gins, but three is my tipping point and I tipped beyond that. But it’s fine.
I walked home and sweated most of the badness out. Like a true athlete, the streets are my gym. One day to go and I guess I’ve done all I can. I’ve got my little rescue kit packed (my rescue kit is a Mars Bar and a bottle of water) and I’ve got my Body & Soul rescue kit (Buckfast and crisps) packed and I’ve got two USB sticks loaded with tunes.
I still haven’t figured out how a wheelchair user actually wheels a run, but my tyres are pumped up and my spirits are strong.
Nothing can go wrong.
Read more: My first marathon training plan
Read more: Running and safety: the reality of being a female runner
Read more: The best 5k races to sign up for this summer
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