I’m an experienced athlete. Some might point out that one star was the lowest you could score. They would be right. But screw those guys.

It’s just days until the race now. I’d like to say I’m in tip-top condition and raring to go. I’d really, really like to say that. It would probably be the case, were it not for a running-induced bladder infection and a sore back, but whatsa guy to do, huh? Whatsa guy to do? You might think I’m just getting my excuses in early and, by jiminy, you’d be right. However, thanks to your generous sponsorship – still open, charity fans – I will get round that course by hook, crook or rook.
So before I depart for my secret training camp to commence preparatory shamanstic chanting and mind yoga with my guru, I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve learned in my long, three-month experience as a runner. Eat your heart out, Haruki Murakami.
My running inferiority complex is in remission. I can now nod at and greet other runners as we pass. At least the ones coming towards me: I still unleash a flurry of v-signs at the ones who glide effortlessly past at speed as I continue my glacial trundle in their slipstream.
When you get jogger’s nipple on your moobs you have truly reached a watershed of lifestyle change. A proper sporting injury that! Am quite proud.
Subscribing to a running magazine instantly makes you physically fitter. Fact. You don’t even have to actually read it.
It’s called a run for a reason, apparently. When I was a lad I remember watching the London Marathon on television with my mum. As the cheery fun runners trundled past, some strolling and waving at the cameras and the crowd, many with collecting buckets, mum tightened the corners of her mouth and announced that anyone caught walking in the marathon should be instantly disqualified. It’s been an incentive during my training: nobody wants to have their own mother blowing the whistle on them and hauling them off the course during a race. That would be worse even than her wiping my mouth with a licked tissue in front of my friends. Which she is definitely going to do.
I’ve not been to see my GP or been prescribed any medication in years. Then I started training. Sigh. Having somehow managed to bruise my – forgive me – bladder running ten miles last week, I am currently on antibiotics. They make me lethargic: yesterday afternoon I fell asleep for two hours. I now have some probiotics to combat this. So from having a completely clean system for years my insides now feel like the Happy Mondays.
One runner’s ailment that never seems to be discussed is the earworm. I did a half marathon as a teenager and the overriding memory I’ve retained is how for the entire duration of the race, about two and a half hours, the line “If I am guilty I will pay-ay-ay-ay” from Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff was on repeat in my head. Just that one line. For two and a half hours. On Friday’s long run it was the guitar theme from Twin Peaks. I can only guess at what musical agony my subconscious will inflict upon me at the weekend.
If my knees don’t actually hate me, they certainly now regard me with outright contempt. To them I say, “just suck it up and keep moving, bonefaces”.
The proportion of people who respond to a cheery ‘morning!’ as you pass them on the Thames Path diminishes to zero when you reach the new flats on the Greenwich Peninsula. It’s all gone a bit north London up there. To be fair, I have run nearly five miles by that point; I’d probably look the other way if a sweaty bloke in a strange combination of old football kits addressed me unbidden on my way to work. Plus what sounds in my head like ‘morning’ probably comes across as some kind of menacing bovine lowing at that stage of a run.
My training programme. Having a natural inferiority complex I automatically defer to all authority. Hence when my ex-Charlton goalkeeper, sport scientist pal Coach Smith offered to put a programme together covering exercise and diet, there was no way I was going to miss a single run or training session. Thanks to Coach Smith I am in a condition that gives me a fair-to-middling chance of finishing on Sunday. If it had been left to me I’d have done a couple of two-mile runs by now, and the route would have gone via KFC, the kebab shop and a pub serving good real ale. All hail Coach Smith.
People are great. When I decided I might try and raise a couple of bob on this run I thought I could get to maybe a couple of hundred quid. Five hundred tops. So for the sponsorship total to batter past THREE GRAND last week is a bit overwhelming. Alzheimer’s is a cause rather close to home, unfortunately, so to know that so many of you have contributed so much is added incentive/pressure/stuff of anxiety dreams. You’re all fabulous and I shall try not to let you down. Well, not in the actual race anyway. Given that I intend to keep going from finish line to pub, charge through the door and pronounce myself thirsty, anything after that is off limits sponsorship-wise.
So, that’s it from me. See you on the other side. Erk.