Galvin's Chance Mayfair Park and Tower Race 2009

On 17 June this year, I'll be taking part in the Mayfair Park and Tower Race in London. Its an invitation only 3.2km race around Hyde Park and up 56 flights of stairs to the finish line at the Galvin at Windows restaurant in the Hilton Park Lane Hotel. I'll be running in aid of the Galvin's Chance charity which aims to get disadvantaged kids out of gang culture and into full-time jobs in Park Lane Hotels.

The only problem is that I'm 44 years old with a matching waistline measurement. The only exercise I get is walking the dog a couple of times a week, supplemented by regular trips to the fridge for beer and chocolate.

I was something of a runner in my youth, completing a half marathon and several 10k races, but its a decade since I last trained regularly. Consequently, I'm taking the possibility of injury and the risk of putting an unbearable strain on my heart (we are talking about running up 475 steps after all) seriously. I'll be consulting my doctor later this week, and will proceed depending on his advice.

In preparation, I've bagged a bargain pair of off road running shoes and scheduled the Runners World 8-week Beginning Runner's Training Program into my Sunbird calendar.

I start the programme tomorrow with a 30 minute walk/run that alternates one minute of running with two of walking. By mid-April I should be running for 30 minutes. I'll then spend the rest of the training time before the race increasing my speed and practising running up stairs.

My goal is simply to finish the race rather than end up clutching my chest somewhere on back stairway of the Hilton. I'd also love not to be the last person through the restaurant's doors on the day.

I'll be moderating my alcohol intake quite a bit and eating a little more healthily, but exercising properly everyday (apart from Sunday when I'll be resting) rather than just a brisk walk once or twice a week will be the biggest change I'll be making.

I won't be counting calories or weighing myself regularly. I know from previous experience that its ultimately counter productive. I do want to loose my beer gut but will be using the idea of being able to fit into a clothes that have laid unworn in my wardrobe for years as my motivation, rather than trying to attain a specific weight.

In order to help me stick to my training regime, I plan to update my progress on how I combine the indulgent and sedentary life of a food writer with trying to reverse the effects of middle age spread on this blog. Wish me luck; I've got a feeling I'm going to need it.


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