Active 2014

I'm ready for miles ahead - wish me luck

Well, this is it.

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Only a few days to go before I head over to Northern Ireland to run in the Belfast Marathon. Am I ready?

The only real answer to that is - I will have to be.

Looking back, my training might have been a little better but I had no control over getting food poisoning and a busted knee.

Those incidents punched what felt like quite a big hole in my training longest.

My biggest run was 18 miles, shorter than I had planned, but (just) within the range.

Overall though, I have built up stamina and ensured the right level of fitness.

My weight is well down, though still not as far as I intend to drop it finally, and health is optimal.

So much for technicalities. Like all sport, most of the race will be a mental exercise as much as a physical one. I am very positive and looking forward to the event with great enthusiasm.

This final week I have been jogging short distances, mainly on the gym treadmill, and being even more careful about my intake of food and drink - and by drink I mean fluids, NOT alcohol.

By the time Monday comes, I should be as fit as a butcher's dog, with a nice glossy coat though hopefully not a wet nose.

The wife and I will get to the start at Belfast City Hall to join the other 4000 or so runners and I will be ready to get underway.

On some occasions in training I have felt worried or apprehensive about the miles to come, especially after illness and injury, and those runs have been a nightmare.

So while I take nothing for granted, I expect and intend to be in an optimistic frame of mind.

As I have said before, the support given to me has been and continues to be crucial and much appreciated.

Last Friday I was co-hosting a Sports Dinner held by the St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, the charity I am supporting in this race and got a chance to give the large audience a pitch for my justgiving page - www.justgiving.com/AustinLafferty.

My intention was only to give them the website address but they responded with a huge and unexpected round of applause, which has added to my sense of purpose.

So I am confident all will be well - up to the start at least.

Where it all counts more will be at mile 16, 17 and so forth.

The "wall" is a real effect, where after around two-thirds of the race you can suddenly lose energy, your mind gets lost in a fog of pain and exhaustion.

It takes true grit to keep slogging on and to get back into positive mode.

It is then that you have to dig deep, remember why you are enduring this torture, and employ all possible tricks and techniques to push yourself on.

If I look down at the pavement and go into a zone inside my head, then I can concentrate on just the steps, one after the other.

This is especially useful for running uphill.

The flipside of this mental pressure is that the last few miles become progressively easier as you consciously feel the finish line coming towards you, even if not visibly.

And as you near the end, you begin to hear a different tone from the well-wishers on the roadside, shouting "Not far now!" and "Nearly there!", and in my case "Come on Batman, you've almost got there!".

I can now reveal why I wear the Batman T-shirt. I have been a fan of the superhero since I was a wee boy but when I run, it is a huge encouragement to be singled out by spectators, and the Batman top is instantly recognisable.

I have bought a new one for the race, so here's hoping I will get recognised all the way along the route.

So that's it. Training almost done.

Wish me luck...

Sport

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Tips to help you keep active from the Glasgow Club

  • Be realistic about what you want to achieve
  • Build up the intensity and frequency of your activity sessions gradually
  • Find an activity which you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Use the stairs as often as possible
  • Make active choices as part of your daily routine
  • Get out at Lunchtime! Why not go to the shops or park at lunchtime instead of staying at work? The walk will also make you feel more awake in the afternoon