Posted by: Nick Duxbury05/12/2011
Following on from last year’s fundraising success, two more Inside Housing hacks are taking up the marathon mantle for 2012
‘You probably also need tights’.
‘Do I really, though?’
And that is how I became a man in tights.
Not just tights, though - quick-dry Nike running tights. I emerged from Runners Need in Liverpool Street £150 quid poorer but feeling like I have taken the first and hardest step towards running the London Marathon. Finally, after a lot of big talk, I had put my money where my mouth is and committed myself to running 26 miles - ideally in less than four and a half hours.
Inside Housing’s business reporter Gavriel Hollander and myself will be joining 10 other housing professionals (see below) who are going to be giving up sleep, beer and any semblance of comfort so they can beast themselves over the finish line and raise lots of cash for the Housing Action Charitable Trust.
The cause is undoubtedly a worthy one. HACT’s mission statement is as follows: ‘HACT helps housing providers to improve the wellbeing of people in poor and marginalised communities.’ Most people in housing have probably come across the amazing work HACT do - but for those that haven’t yet, in this blog, Gav and myself will attempt to unpick some examples of the kind of projects the charity undertakes. We will also introduce you to other runners, and update you on our journey as we attempt to train our way from being out of shape, desk-bound, microwave meal munching housing hacks to trim, eagle-eyed marathon runners.
In short, whether it is through hearing about how your money could be spent, or through reading grim stories about our runs home in the darkness, ice and rain, we hope to provide you with enough reasons to dig deep into your pockets and sponsor us. I am also in grave need of your help and pointers as I don’t really have a clue what I am doing - as illustrated by my recent spending splurge.
In retrospect, of course, going into a shop and buying a lot of shiny new things - however expensive they might be - is not going to even register on the scale of ‘hardest steps’ I am likely to take over the next six months. But I got quite a buzz out of making that all-important first financial commitment.
I don’t do much in the way of exercise these days. But I would consider myself averagely fit. While I am no stranger to the occasional jog to keep myself ticking over, there is no part of me that has ever wanted to do run a regular basis - let alone a marathon.
But presenting my debit card to the man in Runners Need, I felt like I could be entering into a new world; one where, for the first time in my life, I might be looked on as an athlete of sorts; one in which every day I attempt to better myself; one in which I can buy a whole new set of magazines, books and performance enhancing products. There’s all the new jargon to pick up, new heroes to emulate, and ‘like-minded people’ I can run with/past exchanging a nod of understanding that we populate the same spiritual plain. In short this could be a new obsession - and until I had the gear then, frankly, I would just be another bloke doggedly hauling himself round the park in the rain.
Having spent an hour having my running ‘technique’ analysed on a treadmill and then trying on around eight different pairs of running trainers in an effort to match a pair to my flat, over-pronate feet, I felt inspired to begin my training. The new world embraced me with both arms: had I considered my programme? Perhaps a personal trainer to ensure I reach my full potential? What supplements do I use? Do I have a digital watch, fluorescents or, at the very least, a breathable thermal top and, obviously, a pair of tights. No I didn’t - but I soon would.
It was enough to make me want to leave the shop, don my trainers (and tights) and set off for lap of east London right there and then. However, the retail process was quite tiring. And I was quite hung over. And it was getting dark. And it was a bit drizzly outside which meant I could slip and fall… So I went home and watched the X-factor. And then went out to the pub. And then woke up hung over again.
This was going to be harder than I had thought - and actually training is only one half of the equation; I also have to raise £2,000 by April…
Eventually, when the Sunday sunlight was disappearing and I had no more excuses not to run, I resolved to test out my new gear. I started pounding the pavement from Haggerston overland in Hackney, down the canal toward Victoria Park. My new shoes, I had been told, should be like a slipper - and running in it should be a new and liberating experience that could revolutionise my running. Well, it wasn’t quite like that. Maybe I went too far, or maybe my housemate, Justin, who accompanied me set to great a pace, but by the time I returned from my five mile debut panting and sweating I had a blister. My £40 trainers have never so much as rubbed in the three faithful years I have owned them. Yet my brand spanking new £110 Asics - which are ugly as sin - give me a blister on the first run? Surely I have I been ‘had’.
I am extremely happy with the tights, though.
Please, please sponsor myself or Gav. Movember is now over and we are both targeting £2,000 - a figure that we hope to exceed with the help of the rest of the housing sector. Every pound counts, and every donation will receive a grateful tweet - and especially generous donors will also get a mention in this blog.
Andrew Grant, Head of Commercial Operations (North), Viridian Housing
Adam Jones, Midland Heart
John Taylor Midland Heart
Paul Bridge, Chief Executive, Homes for Harringey
Joanne Barber, North Star Housing Group
Joy Goodman , North Star Housing Group
Nick Atkin, Chief Executive, Halton Housing
Sandra Rodney, Resident involment officer, Genesis Housing Association
Sandra Maguire, Property Manager, Genesis Housing Association
From Home run
Tracking the progress of Inside Housing staff and others running the London Marathon for the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust