This is all Jess Ennis’ fault. And Greg Rutherford. And that speedy Mo Farah. Sitting watching all of them power to gold during those crazy 45 mins on Olympic ‘Super Saturday’ made me do it. As Jess stormed the last event of her heptathlon and crossed that line after tearing through 800ms I was suddenly hit with a gut wrenching wave of nostalgia and found myself typing ‘Athletics Clubs in London’ into Google on the laptop in front of me. Next thing I knew I’d sent off an email to the club most local to me asking when they trained and would they take on an unfit woman in her mid 20s who had been away from the track for approx 8 years. On hitting send however I was once again distracted by the hysteria that swept the nation as ‘God Save the Queen’ was belted out for the third time that evening and I promptly forgot all about my email.
Back in the day, I was bloody good at athletics. Not all athletics, you couldn’t get me near the high jump, let alone over it, but give me a 200m track or a long jump pit and I made a fair go of it. However, I didn’t realise how good I was, as is the laziness of teenage years and got distracted by horses, boys, friends and the occasional exam. I never really attended any out of school athletics training and never pushed myself to see what I could be capable of. I just sauntered about, won what I was entered for by my teachers and then walked away….until a few weeks ago.
So the email came back to bite me in the shape of a phone call from the Members Secretary of the Athletics club. The club met on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work and takes on all ages, shapes, sizes and capabilities. Since January I’ve been going running a few times a week and even managed to do a few sponsored distance runs so wasn’t as worried about being completely unfit, but at the same time I’d done the runs at my own speed (being over taken by walkers occasionally pace). I soon learnt this was not going to be enough.
I had explained on the phone to the Members Sec that I wasn’t a distance runner and would like to get back into some semblance of sprinting, but thanks to the summer holidays and Olympics, the turn out on my first dip back into the world of track and field was pretty minimal. In fact it was the sprint group who were packing up for the summer break and half way through their session already, or the endurance group.
Needless to say, it didn’t go to well. I don’t know if you’ve ever done a ‘pyramid’ session, but its basically a session of death which involves you starting at an 800m, then running a 600m, followed by a 500m, 400m and a 200m (with a 4 min recovery in between each distance) and then doing all the distances back up again to the 800m. I think I managed 400m of the first one, then missed out the 500m, did most of the 400m and the 200m, then nearly vomitted my lunch back up. And was also a good 150m behind the pack any time I did run. Not even the incredibly good looking guy in my group could ease the pain. But still in an odd way, I enjoyed it. There’s something comforting about running on red gravel (apart from when you fall over on it).
Thursday was much the same with a sadistic endurance training session of hell, although this time I managed to be nearly lapped by the main group during one of my endeavours. I have never been a good loser and even some witty banter (possibly about vomit, I forget) with the incredibly good looking guy was not making me happy so on my return the following Tuesday I put my foot down and said I had no intention of running any further than about 300m at any given time. I also noticed that the endurance group was made up solely of guys that session so I would have literally been stomped into the ground. Luckily for me, Coach man was back from a few weeks away and taking a beginners long jump session. (Obviously Coach man wasn’t Coach Man then, he was just man…) so I scuttled over, introduced myself and have been a burden to him ever since.