Be aware, be very aware

Alick Howard

Be careful with whom you agree to go out with for a quiet Sunday lunch, it can land you in a lot of trouble

Inviting Mr and Mrs Twiselton (Grapevine) out to La Peña one Sunday along with two other friends, Jenny and Steve (, resulted in a few more beers than intended and as we finished watching Usain Bolt in his record breaking 100 metres on the bar's TV, the talk moved onto running. My wife, Debbie, mentioned she always fancied doing a triathalon with which the reply came from Stevie T, “Well, why don't we start with the Málaga 10K run at the end of October?” “Yesh, I'llsh drinksh to that (hic!) one!” And so there we have it, that's how it all started.

Monday and I was on the internet looking for a suitable training schedule to follow. We had 8-9 weeks before we thought the race would be run on the last Sunday of October, but as with most things Spanish publicity on such an event is difficult to find. Still we would work with that for the time being and I thought found the perfect training regime. “Now let me see…..Day 1……Rest! Perfect.” I could get to like this 10K training lark.
Unfortunately, day 2 came a little too quick and before long I was running with Debbie and our two dogs, Timi and Maddie, in the mountains around Cómpeta. I hadn't run for some years so for starters a steady 2.4K, carefully measured in the car, was in order. I found it surprisingly easy until I realized I actually had to get out of the car to do it. It was quarter to three in the afternoon and it wasn't my normal way of spending a hot siesta afternoon. Still, I managed it and achieved my target of not stopping and running the whole distance. Only 8 weeks and 5 days to go.

By the Sunday I was running 5K and had splashed out on a new pair of Nike running shoes and a new running vest. It was getting serious. Life was being organized around a 7.15am run so no alcohol was being consumed the night before and the dogs were no longer enjoying a morning stroll but were
running to earn their breakfast when we got back.
Slowly the running came close to becoming an obsession. We had friends to stay from the UK and were going to Mojácar for a few nights. An early start was in order but not before I'd run 5K. What was happening to me? Even when we got to Mojácar I was running along the sea front at 9am before starting the day. I was in serious trouble. Maybe I needed medical help.
“Next patient please. Mr Howard”
“Doctor, you've got to help me I've got a bad case of the runs”
“When did this all start?”
“I went for a drink and a bite to eat with a few friends one Sunday”
“And what did you have?”
“A few beers, fried fish, salad. The usual. I also had a case of the runs on holiday”
“Mmmm, it could just be the food. I think maybe some dodgy fish or something similar. The beer won't help, of course. Here take these twice a……”
“Doc, sorry I can't hang around. I've got a case of the runs again. Oh, God! I just can't stop it. Here I go. Gotta do another 5K……!!”

As we continued training we had our first casualty as Steve “Misterweb” decided running wasn't for him. He was feeling the heat of the competition already. I had started to text my running times to Mr & Mrs T to add a bit of healthy rivalry to the training. If I didn't text or forgot to do so Mrs T soon noticed and was asking where they were. I had visions of Mr & Mrs T sat by their computer on a run day waiting for the times to be text through before feeding them into some fancy analysis program. “Steve! I've just got the text. Now let's break down these times and see how he's doing. The results are just calculating now. Here we are. He's averaging a kilometer every 5.7756 minutes at an average speed of 11.5657kph with a stride length of 0.87m. The doctor was right, his runs are terrible!”

Steve T was the runner to beat as he was posting the quickest times but we had all started to set our goals for what we wanted to achieve for the actual race. It started with wanting to just finish without walking to actual times then who we were wanting to beat between the now “10K Five”. Jenny “MrsWeb” had a forced break from her training as she went back to the UK to get married to Steve “Misterweb”. We're still not clear whether she actually walked or jogged up the aisle. The photos are inconclusive.

I had one slight concern with this training in that I wasn't actually losing any weight but was reliably informed that muscle is heavier than fat and maybe that was the reason. I was slowly losing my 'party 7' waistline, which in many ways was a concern although you may think that an odd thing to say. You may remember from my last month's article, the dart's season was upon us. How could I possibly improve my darts without the obligatory front end ballast? I would have to work on my stance. You see, partaking in sports at opposite ends of the fitness scale has inherent problems.

Into week 5 of my training at the time of writing this article and my average run had increased from 3.5K to 5.4K and I now need to increase my Sunday run, being the main one of the week. My times were improving even though sometimes when I set out I felt lethargic and leaden legged. I'm not sure I actually enjoyed running but it did give me a feeling of wellbeing when I finished and when I saw my times improving. The difficulty is finding longer distances to run without too many steep inclines.The dogs, Timi and Maddie were enjoying it and must be the fittest cocker spaniels in Axarquia. My wife, Debbie was supplementing the running with visits to Formas gym accompanied by Mrs T. Steve T was doing his own thing as he was somewhat quicker and could run further at the moment than the rest of us, although Mrs T was managing 10K on the running machine. Steve T seemed to be posting some ever quicker times, or was he? Maybe it was a conspiracy to push us harder or make the rest of us think he wasn't going to be beaten.
further at the moment than the rest of us, although Mrs T was managing 10K on the running machine. Steve T seemed to be posting some ever quicker times, or was he? Maybe it was a conspiracy to push us harder or make the rest of us think he wasn't going to be beaten.

After their wedding, Jenny “MrsWeb” was getting back on her training schedule running to Canillas de Albaida from Cómpeta and back. I'm sure Steve “Misterweb” was now her official Mr Motivator as he had decided to watch the rest of us mad fools running all over Axarquia.

So, on your travels around Cómpeta, if you see clouds of dust following what looks like a person it'll no doubt be one of us on our training runs. Mine will be preceded with two smaller clouds as Timi and Maddie stay ahead of me. They're my mini pacemakers. How is it they always just manage to stay ahead of me? I need another pair of legs, I think.

Read December's Grapevine for how we all get on in the actual Málaga 10K race itself. In the meantime, where's my darts? I need to counteract and make allowances for my loss of ballast.

Alick Howard

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