NEW trainers? asks The Wild One, snooping in my bedroom, presumably seeking out cash, the cat or something of mine he can pass off as a legitimate Valentine's gift for his girlfriend. “They're swift."
I may be wrong. It has been a while since I was down with the kids. But I suspect he was using some form of street vernacular when he chose that particular phrase to assess my new purchase. He was also, as it happens, spookily accurate. My trainers are, indeed, swift. They are Adidas's Adios Adizero 2s, and they won the Berlin marathon. Not all on their own, of course. They needed a little help from Patrick Makau, who managed to knock a tidy 20 seconds off Haile Gebrselassie's world record. But it's comforting to know I'm in good company.
They have continental tyre rubber on the tip of the sole, my trainers, which is supposed to reduce slippage by 1mm per metre. These babies, they're like the Ferrari of footwear. The Red Bull of runners. Did I mention they're red? Vroom.
They're the first step towards my conquering of the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon, in April. They're light as air. I have a good feeling about these shoes.
The second step comes in the fleet-footed shape of Alan Donald, running coach, who will put me through my paces (literally) and whip me into the kind of shape that makes it possible to run 13.1 miles without medical intervention. I'd like to do it in two hours; he reckons I can do it in less. Only – ahem – time will tell.
We have our first session after work. It's cold and dark. Very dark. As in, no street lights. Only the oncoming cars in Holyrood Park provide a shadowy impression of the pavement in front of us. OK, so maybe we should have thought this out a bit more carefully, but we plough on regardless.
Al has planned a fartlek session (stop the sniggering at the back), which combines short bursts of speed with slower stretches. But speed is somewhat tricky, given the fact that, at any stage, without warning, we could run into a tree, trip over a fox or plunge down Salisbury Crags. But we're made of sterner stuff, Al and I, so we take the hazards in our stride.
And it turns out to be a bit of an education. For starters, as we're running uphill, he informs me, “Don't bend into the hill; keep your hips forward, your head up, and use your arms to propel yourself." This relieves pressure on the lower back and hips, apparently.
When training for a race, he continues, it's not the night before that's important but two nights before. Don't ask me why. It just is. Which might also explain why a Sunday run feels like a slog even if you haven't been on the bevvy since Friday night.
“And when you're running" he is a mine of helpful information, this man ... “try not to swing your a*** across your body."
What? I know these long breeks have a Max Wall look about them but still, I feel a little hurt. It's all just a bit too familiar this early in our relationship.
“No, your arms!" he clarifies. Which is a relief. But since he mentioned it, my bum does look rather big in these...