Who’s the Daddy? - A strain worth the pain

I’LL be honest with you, I’m after your money. But it’s not for me, it’s for Macmillan Cancer Support.

I’ve made good my foolish promise, made in drink to a pal on a cold winter’s night, to run this year’s Great North Run and now there’s no turning back. I’ve done the crime and now I’ve got to do the time (13-and-a-bit miles in around two hours would be ideal).

The fundraising and training guide arrived last week which made my once airy-fairy plans horribly concrete. This charity is depending on me now and I can’t let them down.

So on Sunday, September 16 (which feels like the distant future at the moment) I’ll be running around the streets of Newcastle with around 54,000 other brave souls hoping not to embarrass myself in front of my cheering wife and children.

Anyway, the money. The reason I’m running is to raise a minimum of £395 for Macmillan Cancer Support. My dad died of cancer five years ago and no amount of money will ever bring him back, but your donation will help someone fighting this horrible disease.

I know times are tough and everybody is worried about losing their jobs, paying their bills and putting food on the table – but I’m not asking for much, a fiver here and a quid there would be very generous.

And to make it easier I’ve set up two ways of sponsoring yours truly.

1. Go to www.justgiving.com/michael-gardner and donate whatever you can.

2. Or you can sponsor me using your mobile phone. Text WHOS99 and the amount you’d like to donate to 70070. For example, text WHOS99 £1 to 70070.

One of the items which arrived with the sponsorship guide was a training programme which is designed to get you through the run in one piece. Like every revision timetable you’ve ever drawn in your youth, at first glance and in an ideal world it looks a piece of cake. Run three or four miles every other day with a handful of whoppers in weeks four to eight.

Interestingly, they don’t suggest you run the full race distance until the day itself.

Of course, nothing runs smoothly, and during a pre-training run a month or so ago something went “ping” in my lower back which made me wonder whether running this race was really such a good idea.

Thankfully a sports physio I went to see says otherwise and after an hour of bending and twisting he said I hadn’t slipped a disc but had strained something called an erector spinae muscle and gave me some deep stretching exercises to do every day – which have worked a treat and I should be ready for full training in a week or two.

You might have gleaned from all this that I’m normally a non-runner. The only training I put in last weekend was at the excellent Glastonbrewery festival at Lancaster Leisure Park where the sun was hot and the beer was cold.

But rest assured, once training starts for real I’ll be living like a Trappist monk – albeit a monk who goes running every other day for 10 weeks with the Rocky theme on his iPod.