| 10.1°C Dublin

Running in my sleep to get fit for a marathon challenge

I sometimes wake up in a panic, needing a stiff glass of milk.

I wonder: Did I leave the immersion on? Did I remember to turn both door locks and put the alarm on? Did I forget that it's Monday, not Sunday, and sleep it out? Are there burglars in my house? What was that weird noise? Is my house about to flood? Did I actually sign up to do the Dublin City Marathon again?

Eventually, I calm down and remember, that all of the above are just nightmares -- except the last. I am once again on team Sparathon (as in Spar) for the DCM on October 31.

I flirted with the idea of running it, but then realised there would be a lot more sleepless nights ahead of me and my little head needs to be on the day job or else I won't have a roof over my head to be flooded.

Also, at my 'advanced age', 26.2 miles is way too much. I do run frequently but never more than eight miles. I also walk a lot and do Bikram yoga but, having seen Run Fat Boy Run, I know I would hit my 'wall' a lot sooner than Simon Pegg's did in the movie.

Technically I am fit enough -- just not that fit. But it has been fun getting ready for the mega-long walk.

What's most interesting about the 'Sparathon' challenge is that they organise a session or two with nutritionist Paula Mee. I've taken some of her advice on board as she adapts her recommendations to suit the person, their lifestyle and what they like to eat. For example, I don't have a sweet tooth but I would hoover up salami -- which is mainly fat. So salami is now a treat instead of what I eat while dinner is on the stove.


Thereafter it is up to me to do nice, brisk walks, hardcore runs and the even harder core Bikram yoga (four times a week in Harold's Cross -- I dare you!) so I am ready for the big day. And in fairness I am pretty consistent with my exercise. I do something every day of the week. I don't care if it's a 30-minute jog or 90 minutes of Bikram followed by an hour's walk home. Every day is different and every day is now leading up to my Sparathon challenge.

Some days I am good at the exercise and other days I am rubbish but I always try which is what the Sparathon challenge is all about, plus there is a charity element.

I did the DCM in six hours and 31 minutes last year, so my aim is to walk faster. Oh, and drink the milk before I go to bed so that I can sleep through the nightmares.

>Dee O'Keeffe