I've been nagging Mark for weeks to come out running, just to get started. We've been to get his gait analysed, I've dug out shirts that are two sizes too small for me (one day they'll fit, I just know it. If I lose three stone and most of my muscle mass), made sure he has good socks, great shoes (New Balance 769s - the old style. Found them in a shop in a sale for £60, so I pointed out they were minimum two years old and we got them for £50. Bargain.
But could I get him out for a run? Could I fuck. He's a busy chap. He has three kids, his wife works, and even though he's got the summer off from his university course, he's still got stacks to do.
I just needed him to make a start. What he needs to understand is that it takes time to get the body used to the punishment of running. The joints, ligaments, tendons all need time and patience - and while he's not out running, we're losing time and London Marathon 2012 gets closer and closer. I want him running three miles comfortably before we even look at a training plan.
So after much nagging ("It's like having two fucking wives!"), I pinned him down to this morning. 6:27, I was about to put my running shoes on to meet him outside. He was early. It's a miracle I was up as I had accidentally got drunk and stayed up late (first time this week, I'm getting better!). I was a bit wobbly when I woke up at 6, that's for sure.
Anyway, I explained a couple of dynamic stretches to him and why they would benefit him, then we started walking up the hill a bit. Then we ran.
It was only intended to be a walk 30 seconds, run 30 seconds so I could see how fit he is (or not) and figure out what we'd do from there. He took to it easily, nice and upright, not a lot of foot lift, his foot rolling off the ground. Good form, I thought. We'll see how he is on the hills though.
The route we took goes down one of Ludlow's steeper hills (truly a bastard to run up), takes a right, dips down quite a bit - then you come back up the same height, gradually, over about 1/3 of a mile. Well, the same height plus a bit more. It's quite tough, and I put it at the start of most of my runs as it's a cracking warm-up.
He was fine. Took it in his stride.
I've noticed when taking beginners out that they often need the full 30 seconds to recover. That's how I basically gauge their level of fitness - how fast do they recover from exertion. He didn't take more than 20 seconds on any part of the run, despite being a smoker in his 40s. I think he's in pretty decent shape, and he's carrying very little body fat.
So I kept the pace quite quick, and took him further than I had intended initially. We did my lovely four-mile route, which front-loads the hills until one particular long slow one right at the end, which we picked up the pace on until we finished at a near-sprint. Well, it was for me.
In short… He's not going to have any problems with the marathon. He'll probably finish it quicker than me.
We came home then (he lives a couple of doors down from me), and I went through basic stretches, including a very effective glute stretch I have adapted from a hard yoga stretch. Then we went our separate ways…
Job done. We're doing it all again tomorrow, 6:30am.