There's no shortcuts when training for a marathon. It's long, boring, hard work. Like much of life, it would be so much better if it were a movie training montage:
Mine would start with that first day of marathon training: Boxing Day. The grey drizzle outside, my back turned on the overflowing Christmas dining table, strapping on my clean, immaculate, virginal Nikes, and hitting the fairy-light lined streets of my parents' village. I'd pat my turkey-filled belly and take that fateful first step.
To the constant tick of the pedometer (and the beat of Clint Mansel's Requiem Theme), my miles would start racking up: 100, 200.
My trilby-wearing tobacco-chewing coach, Mick (because, of course, if my life were a movie I'd have an Irish-Italian coach), himself a failed running champion, rooting for me to succeed as he himself struggles with his debilitating addictions.
Rainclouds, snowstorms and blistering sunshine (or as us Londoners call it, February) would all pass me by.
My wise-cracking coach would be joined by his friend and gym janitor, Chong, who would, of course, look the spitting image of Mr Miyagi. Between them they'd come at me with two-by-fours and fists flying, my unconscious hop, skip and jump technique allowing me to side-step them with a single bound, simultaneously serving them tea, blindfolded.
We'd see endless tracking shots as I pace along London's canal network, shoving old men, children and tourists out of the way as I run up and down the Greenwich Foot Tunnel's cramped men-at-work staircases, and if budget (and Mr Miyagi's 21st century stand-in Jackie Chan) would allow, sprinting along the Great Wall of China.
My rippling muscles rippling harder, faster, stronger, pausing only to kiss my honey passionately, then back on with the sweat. Possibly with an army of Soviet scientists doing everything they could to turn me from a mere man into a running machine!!
My pedometer working overtime, my trainers getting beaten, worn and muddied: 300, 400.
In reality, the charity I'm running for, Get Kids Going (who fund sports equipment for children with mobility issues), is one that I believe in, but have no familiar connection with. In this movie montage though, my kid brother Johnny, is one of those aforementioned kids. As Mick barks orders at me while I lap the local school running oval, Johnny sits alongside in his rickety wheelchair. Always hopeful, never asking for anything - supportive, loyal, sympathetic Johnny. Oh Johnny, I'm going to push on, to succeed, just so I can raise money to buy you a new wheelchair.
Now, if ever there was a reason to get involved in a training montage, it's the excessive homo-eroticism on display. They would be a whole sequence where you'd see my ice-cream eating friend sat on my crotch as I perform inverted push ups on a climbing frame (you have to watch No Retreat, No Surrender's training montage to believe it), hugging my other buff friend in the rising tide, and just having a gay old time with Kevin Bacon. What's not to love?
As the music approaches its crescendo, my face gets serious, the big day approaches, and all those fellow runners on the paths of London who had exchanged smiles and waves only weeks before, were all now in 'the zone', their game face on. I run down the Mall, the finishing line of the marathon, still just a road, still surrounded by pedestrians, and I raise my hands and dance around like Rocky Balboa. People around me look at me as if I'm nuts (true story).
I look down, my Nikes are now loved and worn in, my turkey-belly is now a six pack (ok, this is movie-land, not reality), and I hit 500miles. I'm ready to go - the marathon is on Sunday. I'm fit, I'm psyched, and ever so slightly petrified.
If you'd like to sponsor me (and poor little Johnny*) we'd love you to do so right here:
* please let me be clear, my kid brother Johnny is fictional, but my fundraising is not!