I always suspected that my New Year’s resolution wouldn’t last long, but I had hoped to hold out beyond 10 days.
Originally, the idea had been to have another go at the Dukan diet, but that lasted about two days as not being able to eat fruit or veg for a couple of weeks was about as appetizing as chewing through cardboard. So, instead I went for the no carbs route – pasta, rice, potatoes all banned in favour of lentils. I’ve done this before, with remarkable effect. It was this combination of dieting and 100 miles a week that helped me lose 10kg, whilst also giving me enough energy to put some real muscle into my legs.
10 days in to the New Year and so far so good. I had put in 6 miles every day and the ergonomic bounce of the long-distance runner was starting to re-emerge. And then I woke up one morning last week craving – craving in that chew-your-knuckles kind of way – for pizza. Throughout the whole day as I went from meeting to meeting and through the 6 miles along the Thames path at lunchtime, all I could think of was the vegetali pizza that my local pizzeria does. I could even taste it, washed down with a nice cold beer. And so it came to pass. And it was just as delicious as I had anticipated.
The theory of dieting is a simple one, and as Rory Coleman, who trained me for The Spartathlon, put it, you just have to put in less than you put out. The exception to this rule is in the last days before a marathon. The hard miles have been covered, and the legs need time to restore energy levels, and that is where the carbohydrates come in. A week before most races I will go through three litres of water mixed with carbo-loading powder per day, which leaves the legs bloated and groaning, desperate to get moving to burn off some of the fuel. It’s a great feeling. It means that it is nearly time.
There is a more unconventional way of getting those last carbs into the system, and that is to spend the week in the pub. It was my physiotherapist who suggested it – he’s South African and has put a number of Comrades Marathoners back together again.
He’s also old school. ‘Sit in the pub and drink. Drink slowly, and drink water as well. But make sure you stay there a long time.’ I couldn’t believe my luck. The only shame was that I could not find my favourite beer from New Zealand, Speight’s. This conversation took place before I ran the Paris Marathon, which I finished in a new pb of 3.30.
So, now I am back on the diet – at least until I fall off the wagon again, there is more than one reason why I can’t wait for the London Marathon to come round.