Run Nick Run!

Nick is running in the London Marathon for Chance to Shine! Read his blog below to find out how his training has been going.

The lowest moment whilst training for my first marathon came in Bloemfontein, South Africa. It was touching 35 degrees, we were running at an altitude of about 5,000ft and I had left plotting the course of our run to my companion

Gareth Copley-Jones, the award-winning cricket photographer for Getty Images, revels in his nickname of the Yorkshire Kenyan. Skinny, tall and determined he has the attributes of the perfect runner. He is an experienced marathon runner and lives in Stoke so knows what it’s like to run up hills.

That should have been the warning sign. After 2 miles of our 11-mile run I was starting to feel the pain. By mile 4 I wanted to go home, mile 6 never run again, mile 8 kill Gareth slowly, mile 9 never see another hill, mile 10 be sick and mile 11 kill Gareth very, very slowly.

I now publicly want to apologise to the residents of Bloemfontein for my language on this run. Gareth was always about 50 metres ahead (at least) so the only way I could vent my frustration on him was to shout insults. Sorry Bloemfontein. Sorry Gareth.

I was down to 12-minute miles at one point, and I was so slow that our other running companion, James Cole from Sky Sports News, was able to jog alongside me at one point and reply to an email on his blackberry.

But it helped. The altitude training and running in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg was one of the benefits of spending two months on the road covering England’s tour to South Africa.

Missing the World Twenty20 has enabled the training to move on to the next level. I am now in what my training plan describes as the tapering zone, with the last long run, 22 miles, completed last weekend.

So on April 24th (if I can’t think of an excuse) I will line up alongside many thousands of other middle-aged men on the start line for London Marathon contemplating whether they will actually make it to the other end.

My thanks goes to Chance to Shine for offering me a place. For years I have written about their work in schools up and down the country and thought it time I actually contributed something meaningful.

I also have personal experience of their work. Their coaches were a big hit at the primary school in Leyton, East London where my wife teaches and introduced cricket to the school for the first time.

I also know of the positive impact cricket can have on pupil behaviour. The head teacher from my daughters’ school in Leyton says he improved behaviour almost overnight when he banned football in the playground and introduced cricket. Despite having no green space whatsoever on the site Barclay Primary School has an outdoor cricket net and an after school cricket club running throughout the year.

Chance to Shine can help more schools and more children from disadvantaged areas become immersed in the game and eventually perhaps we will see the first Chance to Shine England cricketer.

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