In a little over two weeks time, I’ll be on the start line of the Great North Run.
(Or, if I choose to be accurate, I’ll be standing about a mile back from Seb Coe and his starting gun. My number is forty-five thousand and something.)
If you have been around that long, you may recall that I ran a bit when I was a medical student. You may also recall that my last race was this same race in 2012, a month into FY1. It was peppered with disasters, like, for one thing, my training plan, such as it was, and also like leaving my shoes behind a photocopier in Stirling and so spending the first part of the weekend trawling Newcastle for an identical pair. Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience (I high-fived Mo Farah!) and I swore then that I’d be back, one day, for the Red Arrows and the Tyne Bridge and Local Hero and that amazing final straight along the South Shields seafront.
Afterwards, I mostly hung up my running shoes for a year. I was too exhausted for a lot of FY1 to do much of anything at the end of the day besides collapse into a tiny heap in the middle of my sofa. But eventually I developed some kind of stamina and then, slowly, sometimes painfully, through my FY2 year, I laced up my shoes and began to be a runner again.
And now it’s 18 days until I am indeed back for the Red Arrows and the Tyne Bridge and all the rest of it.
My training this time around has been far from textbook – for example, there is a hole in it that I can identify as my cardiology weekend on call – but it has been an awful lot better than I did last time. The highlights of my training will be the time I’ve spent running along the Clyde, particularly the day when I wasn’t expecting the Commonwealth Games flotilla to suddenly appear over my right shoulder. And, for sheer bullheadedness, the night I accidentally ran nine miles in hammering rain. I feel that I’m more psychologically prepared for it this time, and that is as important as anything.
I am running this year on a charity place that was kindly given to me by Kidney Research UK. They were the first charity I ever fundraised for, twenty years ago, and I’m doing this for them because kidney disease was the thing that brought to an untimely end the life of my dad, Bob, twenty years ago next summer. You can read more about his story and about the work of Kidney Research UK on my fundraising page, and if you feel moved to do so you can also donate there.
Two more long runs.
And shoes. I really must remember my shoes.