Repeat after me: I. Am. A. Runner.

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“So, how do you turn on this treadmill thing? I’m taking part in a marathon in March.” And with that question (which in itself nearly floored the gym instructor at Billericay’s LA Fitness) earlier this week this writer began training in earnest for The Moodie Multi-National Marathon.

You have to understand – it’s a pretty big deal for me. I am not a runner. I have never been a runner. I have never wanted to be a runner. But, for the supremely worthy cause that is Hand in Hand for Haiti, I am giving it a go. Don’t get me wrong – I am no stranger to the gym, and I’m not totally unfit. But running? It’s as alien to me as supporting the English at rugby. You have to wear flat shoes, for a start…

marathon_shoes
Farewell high heels, hello (wince) trainers…

“Do you over- or under-pronate?” enquired Mr Muscle, after I reassured him I was tackling “just” one-sixth of the marathon distance. “Neither, unless you treat me to a damn fine dinner washed down with a lot of Champagne,” I fluttered back. He was not amused. “Do you have a time goal in mind?” he tried again. “Yes, under two days,” I shot back. “You,” he predicted, “are going to be a challenge.” You know what? He ain’t wrong.

I am doing my best though. I have swapped my beloved Louboutins for a pair of unsightly Sauconys. I have exchanged Red magazine for Runner’s World. Apparently “Sweaty Betty” is a brand, not an insult. And I now know what a fartlek is. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore…

It’s not all bad, though. Apparently, there’s something called “carb-loading” (stuffing your face with pasta) and jelly babies/jaffa cakes are recommended mid-run fuel – what’s not to like there? I’m also looking forward to tapering (slacking off towards the end), although my long-suffering spouse (who IS a real runner) informs me I have to put the miles in first, before I can start to cut them down. He’s such a spoilsport.

So far, I’ve managed to get up to 3.5k, which is pretty much half the 7.03k distance I will need to run between 4-7 March. Barring injury or disaster, I will get there. Probably not speedily, and certainly not stylishly, but that won’t matter. What will matter is that by giving it a go in the first place, I will be helping the children of Haiti. And the over-riding message of this Blog is, if I can do it, believe me, ANYONE can.

To those who have already signed up, a huge thank you. To those who have already sponsored them, thank you. To everyone else – join us. Please. You don’t have to be fast, or even super fit. Feel free to walk the distance, in stages, if necessary. Because simply by covering 7.03km in early March you can help change a child’s life for the better.

The Marathon fundraising site, http://moodiemarathon.kintera.org, is now live. Please visit to register a team, pay the entry fee, set up targets, sponsor other runners or make a general donation. While you’re at it, why not visit www.HandinHandforHaiti.com for more information about the wonderful school that is being built, which has been described by French Ambassador to Haiti Didier le Bret as ‘the most important investment in the field of education outside of [capital city] Port-au-Prince in the past 30 years’, and which will serve as a permanent legacy to our industry’s extraordinary generosity and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

This weekend, my target is to up my distance to 5K. If you’d suggested to me even six months ago I’d be capable of that, I’d probably still be laughing at you. But some causes are worth changing for. To help the children of Haiti, I am changing the habit of a lifetime. I am not someone who can’t run, won’t run, hates running. I. Am. A. Runner. You can be one too.

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