Failure a la exercise goal (main course)
- 1 over-optimistic 12 week training plan
- 12 calendar weeks
- At least 1 sports bra (optional)
- Plenty of lycra
- 1 pair of ill-fitting running shoes
- Other training equipment to suit (may include sports watch, mobile phone, earbuds)
- 1 front door key
- 1 prepaid half marathon entry. Make sure to get one that doesn’t offer unconditional refunds. Can be substituted with prepaid 10K or marathon entry, depending on experience/tendency for overenthousiasm/event organiser’s sales techniques
- 1 ego
- Several rolls of sports tape
Transfer training plan to a calendar app of your choice. While it might be tempting to miss this step out, I’d strongly advise you not to. The time it takes you to do this is time well spent procrastinating and in so doing squeezing your 12 calendar week time period.
On the appointed day, perform the first physical activity on the training plan as follows:
- Wrestle with the sports bra until you get it on correctly. If you can’t, ask your partner to help. If no partner is to hand, struggle on.
- Put on the ill-fitting running shoes. Consider for a moment doing something to make them fit properly. Decide you can’t be bothered.
- Gather together remaining training equipment. It helps at this stage to pick things up and put them down again, forget where, and wander round your apartment a few times.
- Pick up front door key. Put it down to search for a podcast on your phone.
- Forget to pick the up again. Leave home, shut and lock front door. Remember the key. Swear.
- Do a short warm up walk. If you meet anyone, it’s essential to perform this phase as if you have actually gone for a power walk. Try not to look as if you are doing anything that a serious runner might do. Feeling embarrassed in front of someone you’ll never see again and probably didn’t notice you in the first place will spoil the dish.
- (Optional) If you can get any privacy, do some stretching exercises. They should be some you’ve prepared earlier. Season by forgetting what half of them were and neglecting to do the other half properly. Rush the last 2 sets because there’s a dog walker coming.
- Perform activity on training plan. Warm down. Stretch again (optional, see step 8). Get as red and sweaty as possible.
- Go home. Get partner to let you in or wake neighbour who works nights/phone sister at work and obtain spare front door key.
- Shower and spend the rest of the day on the sofa.
Repeat steps 1-10 for each activity on your calendar, until a painful blister forms under one of your toenails and/or on the sole of your foot. (You might need to wait patiently for a few weeks until the ill-fitting running shoes starts to cause blisters to form. If you stick to the recipe, though, they will start doing their work in plenty of time).
11. Take a week off to let the blisters heal just enough for you to continue training in discomfort. From now on, tape your feet with sports tape to taste.
12. Adjust the training plan to compensate for the missed week. Tell yourself it will all be fine.
13. Resume adjusted training plan.
14. Arrange 10 day holiday with friends to coincide with the weeks of the training plan that require you to put in the most mileage (usually weeks 11 and 12).
15. Continue training while waiting for holiday to start.
16. Go on holiday. Have a great time. Eat loads. If you like drinking, drink loads. While away, do a few half-hearted runs (Taking your running shoes on holiday and using them shows you mean business).
17. On your return, formally abandon training plan. Go for a few short jogs in the week before the event. Reducing mileage in the weeks before a distance running event is known as “tapering”. This recipe needs a concentrated amount of tapering to work properly. Don’t be tempted to train more than this or the dish will curdle.
18. On race day “run” slowly around the course for the first 11 kms.
19. Thoroughly bruise ego by making sure to lose touch, gradually and inevitably, with most of the participants.
20. Start “running” and walking. Gradually switch to walking with a few steps of “running”.
21. Complete the course long after most people, making sure to avoid the distinction of finishing dead last.
22. Always run the last 200 metres, because embarrassingly the announcer will still be on duty to loudly proclaim your finish to the 200 or so people with Schadenfreude who are still hanging around eating their picnic and finishing the 3,000 word blog post they have had time to write since they completed the distance.
This is quite an exhausting recipe, so I hope you still have the resources to make the side dish of success. This is as easy as the main course is hard.
Side dish - success
If you really want to take that bitter edge off the main dish, well then, this side dish is essential, so dont leave it out!
- 1 finisher’s medal
- 1 enduring memory that you made the end
- Large dose of self-knowledge
- Give yourself a huge pat on the back for getting round the course.
- Have lots of photos taken of you with the finisher’s medal around your neck
- Take lots of selfies with the finisher’s medal
- Remember how much you enjoyed that holiday? Good. Now you have memories of a great holiday AND of getting round a half marathon course in one piece
- Use the dose of self-knowledge to reconcile yourself to the idea that you won’t be beating your half marathon record any time soon, because you won’t be entering any. You like going on holiday and you’re too impatient and too stingy to make sure you’ve got running shoes that fit.
- Enjoy shuffling shorter distances much, much, more than you used to before you embarked on this training plan.