Tomorrow at half-past nine, along with several other hardy (or should that be foolhardy?) individuals, I shall be lining up in the Lawnmarket, preparing to run ten kilometres on a cold autumn morning at a time when I would not normally be out of my bed on a Sunday.
Why do such a thing at such an ungodly hour? And it is, literally, an ungodly hour. Most church services start around an hour later than this, so even God doesn’t have to be up as early as 9.30am on a Sunday. I do it because I love it.
In my 20s, I was a student in Newcastle, and was grossly unfit until I entered the first-ever Great North Run in 1981. I was bitten by the running bug, and 40 years later, I am still hooked.
The excitement and the shared experience of a mass participation event makes up for all the solitary training runs on dark winter nights, or the tedium of pounding the treadmill at the gym.
You also get to take in the scenery of the city hosting the event. And in Edinburgh, that scenery is stunning. And, best of all, it’s downhill most of the way. You even get to run out at Murrayfield, finally finishing in front of the main West Stand. One year, we even ran up the players’ tunnel, thus fulfilling a life-long dream.
For two years, these events have not been possible due to the pandemic. However, lockdown did provide the perfect opportunity to up my running, and I was very fit until the restrictions were eased and comedy clubs re-opened. I was back to telling jokes in dark basements, with freely available alcohol. Not ideal preparation.
Of course, training is only part of the preparation. Nutrition and rest have their part to play too. It is important to eat plenty of carbohydrates in the lead-up to an event. I’m doing fine on that score. Equally critical is the need to rest up the day before the race.
So today I’m concentrating on the eating and resting. I reckon that means I’ve done two-thirds of the preparation for a personal best tomorrow.