Cancer Research Race for Life

By WLR Staff, by John Litchfield

While April's London Marathon may be an unrealistic goal for most of us to aim for right now, the Race For Life series of events provide a much more manageable target.

First started in 1994, these 5km women only races will be taking place over the spring and summer to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

You can tackle the 5km race as you see fit, by running, walking or even skipping if you prefer.

This means that even if starting training with minimal fitness, you can join one of 280 events across the country and help to make a difference.

If you are hoping to run the whole way it is important to put in the preparation, something that was discovered the hard way by WLR’s Kerrie:

"5km… I should be able to run that…"

Famous last words from our own Kerrie Pateman.

My mum and her friend have been walking Race for Life for a good few years, now and they ask my sister and I to take part every time. Last year we thought ‘why not’ and registered to run at Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

I (foolishly) didn’t think I would need to prepare, I thought I was reasonably fit as I teach dancing and take part in step aerobics.

Little did I realise, this was running and I haven’t ran since Cross Country at secondary school – and let’s face it, they were a good excuse for a good gossip and we walked most of the way!

It was about a week before the event when my sister and I decided to go for a run. That ‘run’ was rather enlightening… we were quite frankly rubbish!

However, we were determined to run the race and thought that on the day, with the atmosphere and support from the crowd we would be fine.

So the morning of the race arrived and after a cup of tea and banana (energy food right!) my mum Dulcie, sister Carla and mum’s friend Lynda set off for Burghley House. We got there reasonably early and joined in on the aerobic warm-up (and afterwards copied some of the serious runners stretching out – hey, we knew what we were doing really!).

Somehow we managed to be quite close to the starting line (no pressure then!). The race started and the four of us started with a gentle jog and was keeping up quite easily. My mum and Lynda had previously said that they jogged a little then walked, this suited them and they were happy for Carla and I to go off ahead.

We got to the 2km mark and unanimously decided to ‘power walk’ for a short while. How mortifying for us when Mum and Lynda with a cheery ‘hello’ gently jogged past us! Carla and I were as red as a beetroot and breathing heavily and they had hardly broken into a sweat!

Time for some action, and we forced ourselves to continue running. Well we couldn’t have our Mum beat us could we?

We really pushed ourselves and did overtake them, but they somehow caught us up on a few occasions (obviously due to their ‘experience’ of the course right!). We did walk in places (particularly the hilly parts) and resigned ourselves to the fact that Mum and Lynda were actually pretty good at all this lark, so all continued together.

Lynda was starting to struggle close to the end so decided to walk the rest of the way as Mum, Carla and I continued to press on. We made it past the line in 41 minutes. Now our finishing time may raise a snigger to many of you, but we were jolly proud of ourselves!

We left with a huge sense of achievement and between the four of us had raised a considerable amount of money for this fantastic charity.

We did ‘warm down’ with stretches etc at the end but felt on such a high that we perhaps didn’t do as much as we should have (soon to be regretted)!

That night, even the Radox muscle soak in the bath was no use and as for the next two days… swaggering like John Wayne! Absolute agony!

So, here we are again…

The next Race for Life has started its promotion and all four of us are going to Burghley House. Our enthusiasm for ‘training’ has waned slightly since last year, but we are going to go on gentle runs and build it up over time. We plan to start early to give us 6 weeks to prepare.

Hopefully my experience of Race for Life has struck a chord with you and if I can do it, so can you! I have so much respect for people who try these things out and even if you walk the course, it’s such an achievement personally and raises money for charity.

As for the people running the London Marathon etc… hats off to you! The time and effort required, not to mention the blood, sweat and tears, I certainly envy your spirit and determination!

So as I said when I opened

"5km… I should be able to run that…"

Hopefully not the famous last words from Kerrie Pateman, but instead…

"I feel fantastic, not an ache or a pain and I ran the whole race!"

We’ll see!

Aiding Your Health

In addition to helping in the fight against cancer you will also be aiding another worthy cause, your own health.

It can be difficult to introduce regular exercise into your lifestyle and even harder to keep it there, but having something specific to train for and a goal in sight can make it much easier to stay motivated.

Increasing your activity can lead to a number of health benefits, such as improved energy levels, reduced stress, improved heart and lung efficiency and reduced blood pressure to name just a few, so anything that gets you doing a little more is a definite plus.

If trying to lose weight, training for Race For Life may be just what you need to get things really moving.

If unused to exercise, walking is a great way to get started and taking three one hour walks a week can burn around 900 extra calories, that's enough to burn over a pound of fat per month without making any changes to your diet.

Those starting with a little more fitness can make their sessions a little more compact and can burn the same calories by taking three thirty minute jogs. It is important though, to ensure that you do not rush your progress. You don't want to miss the big day through injury, so start training at a pace that you are happy with and if you feel discomfort, slow down or stop and give yourself time to recover.

Training for the Race for Life

Race for Life recommend six weeks training prior to your event and in conjunction with Reebok have provided some excellent and comprehensive training guides for whether you want to walk, run or do a mixture of the two.

Once you have run your first race and are looking for the next challenge, maybe running a marathon next year won’t seem quite so unachievable.

WLR Member's First London Marathan

WLR member Rachael Reynolds who joined us with nearly 4 stone to lose ran her first London Marathon.

"Running always seemed to be something ‘other people did.’ Even at the gym, the treadmills seemed to be for the gym bunnies rather than me. But I don’t like being defeated by things so I thought I’ll just give it a little go, just to see. My first time out was a disaster, barely lasted 3 minutes. But a bit more preparation and by the time I tried a second time I was hooked! For me, it’s the ‘me time’ to be out on my own with time to think and plan and no instructor yelling at me to jump this way or twist that way or loud music blaring from the gym speakers. Just fresh air and peace and quiet. And the rows of nice shiny medals in my study helps a bit too!"

"This will be my first Marathon. I've run several halfs and a 16 miler and I've done 24 miles in training but I've not done the pukka thing so hope I can stick to it. I'm going to follow the Runner's World sub 4 hour programme because my weekly mileage is already around 30 miles but realistically, I'm expecting a time of around 4'15”"

So whether your motivation is fitness, helping Cancer Research or a little of both, getting involved with Race For Life could be the perfect choice to help improve quality of life for you and for countless others.

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