A Fitness Diary from Wembley Stadium

You know you’re taking the 5k run seriously when even on arguably the best day of your life, and within an hour of a feeling of pure elation, you find yourself doing a spot of training for the run raising money to support our excellent work reading with looked-after children.

On Saturday I watched the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at the iconic Wembley Stadium, seeing Wigan Warriors defeat Leeds Rhinos 28-18 in a very tense match that did little to help my blood pressure. On the train down to London I was reading This Sporting Life by David Storey, a novel set in the days when professionalism was fairly new to the sport, and Arthur Machin has to juggle managing his personal life with the physical demands and politics of rugby league in a working class town. It was a brilliant little setup for the match on Saturday. (This is a Reader blog post, I had to cram a reference to literature in somehow!)

When you’re training for a run there are a few important things to remember:

1. Warm Up 

Supposedly the best way to do this is by having a few minutes of light exercise. Instead, I jumped up and down like a little kid who had eaten too many sweets whenever Wigan scored, best exhibited when Tommy Leuluai scored a clinching try in the final minutes and the full-time hooter sounded. I did some chest exercises, mainly by roaring ‘advice’ at the referee. A final aerobic workout consisted of dancing to Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ during post match celebrations in the stands.

2. Do Some Stretches and Wear the Right Gear.

T-shirt, shorts, running shoes etc. Stretch your calves, quads, glutes, intercostal muscles and any more I’ve missed out on. I put my shorts and trainers on and did my stretches in a cubicle in Wembley mens’ toilets. Not a sentence I anticipated writing a couple of months ago. Of course, you feel like a bit of a wally walking down the seemingly ridiculous amount of steps at Wembley (another warm up) whilst dressed like someone who should be in the gym, but when the bloke next to you is wearing a red and white checked hat or is dressed like a chicken then everything is relative.

3. Get Running!

So a lap of Wembley commenced and although this is far from a remarkable distance, it remains challenging. Problems being – you’re carrying a bag of various things, you may have to run past dejected Leeds fans whilst wearing opposition colours and there are thousands and thousands of people pouring out of the stadium, making this an assault course. Rather than be put off, I decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to practice overtaking and a chance to appreciate the challenges faced by Anna when she narrowly avoided a catastrophic collision with an old lady.

There is something quite brilliant about running around Wembley Stadium as you get to see all sides of the ground and the various people celebrating with big grins on their faces, and jogging past the statue of Bobby Moore whilst filled with glee and adrenaline.

4. Warm Down

A bit of light exercise, such as walking down Wembley Way towards the tube station. Standing on a packed tube is excellent detox as it can help flush out your sweat if the run hasn’t already.

It would be absolutely fantastic if everyone could help give the children we read with a smile as big as the one on my face late on Saturday afternoon. All funds raised will go to this great cause, and you can make a donation by clicking here.

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