The face of a man who’s just finished training month one. If you think his face is pink you should see his thighs.

As some of you will already know I’m running [sic] the Bath Half Marathon this year in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. My brilliant dad is now permanently in a care home in Bath as a result of the disease and if I can raise a bit of cash to stop this happening to other brilliant people, then, well, hats in the air and a big brass band. You can read more (and, if you like, chuck a few coins in the cyber-collecting tin) here.
Half an hour ago I was sprinting up a hill in Greenwich Park in freezing, driving rain. I was clad in an idiosyncratic combination of sportswear and winter walking gear that would have struck onlookers as ridiculous had their attention not been snatched immediately by the luminous pinkness of my thighs.
It was only once I’d squelched home, rain and inventive swearwords running off me in equal torrents, that I realised I’d reached the end of my first month of serious half-marathon training.
So far, so good.
For my previous – and frankly disastrous – half-marathon, in Dublin in 2012, my training consisted purely of trying to run a little bit further along Clontarf seafront every time. A, ah, lackadaisical approach to this and a sore knee a month before the event contributed to a time so slow they were actually dismantling the finish line as I trundled up. I’m not joking.
This time my training has been more scientific thanks to the proper schedule and diet plan kindly put together for me by my sports scientist friend Sarah. This has been, frankly, a revelation.
So far it’s not just been hours of slogging the pavements of Deptford as I expected but a combination of running and something called ‘high intensity interval training’. Essentially this involves me pulling all the blinds down so no-one can see me, setting the laptop on an armchair, opening YouTube and commencing twenty minutes of a chirpy young fella having me squatting, jumping, punching and burpee-ing my way through an intense thirty-seconds-mayhem-thirty-seconds-rest session that leaves me a quivering, sweating, blaspheming mess at the end of it.
Add to that interval sprints in the park (15 seconds of flat out uphill sprinting, one minute’s rest, repeat x10) usually done at 6.30am in the pitch dark – again in order that nobody sees me and laughs at me – not to mention my new breakfast obsession of blueberries mixed into greek yoghurt, and so far things have progressed quite well. Apart from the time I accidentally pressed ‘pause’ on the interval sprint timer and ended up half-dead half a mile from where I’d started, that is.
I’ve surprised myself slightly by sticking rigidly to Sarah’s programme, especially over Christmas and New Year (last New Year’s Day morning I blearily looked out of the window, stubbly and hungover, and was so appalled at seeing a man out jogging that I almost opened the window and remonstrated with him – this year I did a twenty-minute HIIT session), but one thing that keeps me at it, keeps me legging it around the park in the rain as my thighs progress through shades of blush and salmon to outright fuschia, is the generosity of your sponsorship.
To be honest I thought I’d struggle to make it to £500 by the time the race comes around, so to top £1000 in the first 24 hours absolutely overwhelmed me. Thank you, everyone. Your generosity will make a difference. Probably not to the colour of my thighs though, alas.