Running Miles for Smiles… and a pint of milk

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

It was that last half mile that did for me, and the extra weight…

The Moodie Report knows all about looming deadlines, we live under their guillotine-like effect every day of the week. But one has been looming rather more worryingly than all the others – despite, by our standards, being a long way off.

It’s the ‘Miles for Smiles’ 10k fun run that is being held in Dubai on 22 November, to raise money for children’s cleft charity The Smile Train. The event has been conceived and is being (magnificently) organised by Rowena Holland of Essential Communications, Nadine Heubel of Gebr Heinemann and Mandy Shine who runs (besides long distances) The Moodie Report’s Middle East Bureau. 

Some 50 places are available in the run, and within days of its announcement, virtually every slot has been taken up. Already, amazingly, over US$14,000 has been raised in pledges – enough to fund life-transforming operations for 56 children. The pot is going to get a whole lot bigger.

Besides our genuine athlete – the rising Shine of the Middle East – The Moodie Report has entered one other participant. Yours truly. To me the words ‘fun run’ are a very clear contradiction in terms, but given my involvement with the cause, there was no way out.

Given the likely Dubai heat, the looming deadline and the fact that the event is approximately 9.99k longer than any distance I have run in the last five years, it was clearly time to start the training regime.

The Moodie Report’s UK operations start at 06.00 each day, generally a hectic period due to plenty of overseas news from Asia Pacific. So the training has to be earlier.

And so it began. Noticing we were out of milk for the limitless cups of coffee that fuel The Moodie Report in the early hours, I vowed my first run should conclude by taking me past the local corner shop. And so onto the leafy pavements of west London I headed.

“Don’t push yourself too hard at first” is the standard advice novice runners receive (so says Miles for Smiles’ own resident running guru ‘Danish’ Dan Kongsted, pictured below teaching the proper breathing movements during a recent runners’ class in Dubai, of Valora Trade – more of him later).

Lousy advice. By the time I passed the first lamp-post (actually I think it may have passed me) I had pushed myself too hard. By about the 20th I was thinking ‘what have I got myself into?’ By the 40th the question had become ‘How will I ever make it back?’.

“Listen to your body” is another of Danish Dan’s top tips. Again, absolute rubbish. My body was saying ‘Stop. Now. And never be so silly again’.

Here’s another priceless bit of his Nordic nous – “unless you are living in the Middle East try to do your training outside on a soft surface (preferably forest) with some minor ups and downs”.

Excellent Dan. All I needed was to run for long enough until I encountered a forest in suburban London. The pavements weren’t even vaguely soft (my mattress would have been but Dan wouln’t have permitted that) and the ‘ups and downs’ were dominated by the latter.

Still, on I pounded. The Moodie Report may be short on pace but no-one will ever find us short of persistence. 20 minutes showing on the watch – that must be at least 1k? Timing my triumphant run to the front door via a downhill slope, and thinking in words usually reserved for a famous Gloria Gaynor song, I suddenly remembered the milk…

Oh no, I couldn’t face a morning’s news writing with near comatose exhaustion, legs that looked and felt like a dairy milk tiramisu and no coffee. With a weary sigh, I turned left and jogged towards the village.

So there you have it. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere in Danish Dan’s ‘Top tips’ was there any mention of the perils of a pint. Why had he not added an extra clause: “Never buy groceries along the way”?

Burdened with the extra weight, the last 800 metres was sheer agony. I am pleased to say that both the milk and its distribution vehicle made it home (below) but it was, as they say, a close run thing.

After my post-run recovery (several evenings later), I re-read Dan’s notes. My eyes lit up as I saw a recommendation that I had missed earlier. “Never run on two consecutive days. Rest and recovery is as important as training.”

I felt better already. If Dan is right, then I can focus most of my efforts on the rest and recovery. After all, it’s just as important, right? That, and keeping a good stock of milk in the fridge. It was time for a cold beer…

[Postscript: As I write, I am on another day of ‘rest and recovery’ after no fewer than three training runs that have left my shins feeling like someone has inserted metal rods in them. I am finding the rest and recovery days relatively easy – it’s the ones in between that bother me.

However, there are now 14 weeks to go to the ‘Miles for Smile Run’ (I cannot bring myself to say Fun Run, sorry), and I plan to complete it. If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my page at www.justgiving.com/martinmoodie. You’ll find lots of other runners in there already or you can just sponsor the event in general at www.justgiving.com/smiletrainrun.

All of them are doing their bit for this fantastic cause. Any who would like to share their stories on this Blog can do so by sending me their copy and pictures. Alternatively there is a dedicated Miles for Smiles Blog at http://travelretailsmiletrainrun.blogspot.com/]

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