Running for effect… and charity

If there’s one thing us gamers are good at, it’s sitting down and playing games. So how about celebrating this by getting up and going outside for some exercise? Even better: how about helping people with physical disabilities to play video games while you’re doing it?

Kim has spoken many times about her impressive volunteering work with SpecialEffect and, while I haven’t given even a fraction of that time myself, I do find myself very moved by how their efforts level the playing field. So there was no way I could turn it down when told me about the ASICS London 10k.

British 10K, race, runners, London, Kim, SpecialEffect

I’m not the slimmest of people to say the least, but I’ve recently put full focus on improving my health and losing weight. This was the perfect opportunity to do more of that and contribute to the amazing work of SpecialEffect. I’ve volunteered on their stands at expos to help people use an eye-tracker to play racing games and helped organise a pub quiz at work to raise money. The people that work for the charity are a fantastic group.

We’ve put together our own plan for the next 46 weeks based on the run taking place in July 2020, so the training will start on Monday. The plan is to gradually work up to a 5K run, complete that and then push the training up to 45-minutes of running comfortably. A 10K run will typically take around an hour, which would be 20-30 minutes of additional running and will no doubt be possible with the tremendous motivation from running with others for charity. Here are some details about our 46-week plan and any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Week one to 23 is our training for the couch-to-5K run with an actual 5K being set at week 24. The weeks leading up to this will consist of three training sessions each, small runs for a set number of minutes followed by one minute of walking repeated a certain number of times during the session. To keep them a consistent length, the 15-minute run would be repeated only twice and be roughly the expected length of a 5k. If that is all too easy, then we can ramp up those minutes per session or even add in more repetitions.

As an example, the first five weeks look like this:

Week Run Walk Repeat Sessions
1 1 minute 1 minute 10 times 3 times a week
2 2 minutes 1 minute 7 times 3 times a week
3 3 minutes 1 minute 6 times 3 times a week
4 4 minutes 1 minute 5 times 3 times a week
5 5 minutes 1 minute 4 times 3 times a week

The repeats are adjusted to keep the session between 20 and 30 minutes, and we can increase those should it become too comfortable. It’s essential to start and end each workout with a five-minute as a warm-up before and cool-down afterwards to avoid any injuries.

British 10K, race, runners, London

We hope that by week 24, it will become an easy thing to do and no more intensive than a boss battle in a tutorial, like Kingpin in Marvel’s Spider-Man. Moving onto weeks 25 to 46 is the real challenge with the sessions turning into long-running sessions, again three times a week. Starting with a 25-minute session in week 25, we’ll increase that run by one minute each week all the way up to a 45-minute run in the second to last week before the 10K event. That final week before the event will be a cool-off with rest and only very light sessions.

These last seven days are crucial. It’s also important to drink plenty of water! Finally, the most important day before the event itself will be spent playing video games and wondering why the hell did we sign up for this in the first place? SpecialEffect, that’s why!

If you’re also interested in taking part, then head over to the ASICS London 10k website to register your interest. You’ll receive more information once the event date has been confirmed.

On the run for SpecialEffect

2017 sees SpecialEffect celebrating their tenth anniversary and the charity has organised a number of events to mark the occasion. I’ve already participated in a few of these so far this year – including volunteering at the Rezzed expo holding a 72-hour streaming marathon as part of GameBlast17 – and this past weekend, I took part in the British 10K. My goal was to beat my time from 2016 and raise as much funds and awareness for SpecialEffect whilst doing so.

In case you haven’t already heard of them, this an amazing UK-based organisation aims to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games. They do so using a range of technology from modified gaming controllers to eye-control systems, and levelling the playing-field in this way has a profoundly positive impact on therapy, rehabilitation and confidence. What’s more, the charity does all of this great work completely free of charge.

Instagram, British 10K, runners, London, warm-up

Early in the morning on Sunday, 09 July 2017, 102 runners dressed in SpecialEffect t-shirts and video game costumes took to the streets of London to race through 6.2 miles with over ten-thousand other runners. We all got into our pens to warm-up and wait for 09:30; and as we made our way towards the starting line near Hyde Park Corner after the gun was fired, the nerves began to set in. A huge thank you to David, who I met in the crowd and chatted to me to keep me calm!

The route this year took us past iconic sights such as St James’s Palace and Big Ben, and you really start to appreciate how beautiful the city is when taking part in an event like this. With so much to look at, along with uplifting musical acts at every kilometre to help promote organiser Virgin Sport’s ‘street party’ theme, there was plenty to help take the runners’ minds off of how much their calves were aching.

This was the second time I’d participated in the British 10k so I knew what to expect but the weather conditions made it difficult. We’ve been experiencing a bit of a mini-heatwave here in the UK recently with temperatures getting up to the high-twenties and the heat clearly effected a lot of the participants (much love to the St John Ambulance volunteers for helping out). While the glowing sunshine and bright blue sky provided a lovely day for spectators, it sapped the runners’ energy and made the uphill sections of the course a particular challenge.

Instagram, British 10K, medal, Trafalgar Square

I’m sad to say that unlike last year, I had to slow down and walk on several occasions throughout the race. I’m slightly gutted about this but know it was the right decision to make, as the last thing you want to do during a 10K on a hot day is to become overheated and not take in enough water. I made it across the finish line with a bit of sunburn and there’s something positive to take away from the experience: my time was only 02:30 minutes slower than in 2016. That means my running speed must have increased over the past 12 months so I’m on track to take on the 2018 event at under an hour.

As silly as it sounds, making it to the end of the British 10k is a pretty emotional experience. It could just be because I’m a daft idiot but it’s hard not to get a little tearful as you join the other participants on the walk back up to Trafalgar Square, everyone wearing their medals. The SpecialEffect running team got together for a few photographs and drinks after the event and you can see some of them in the short gallery below.

A massive thank you to Becky and Tom from the charity for coordinating us, and Dr Mick and Nick for joining them in cheering us along the route! I’ll definitely be joining the team again for next year’s run but for now, I’m going to rest my legs and play some video games.

British 10K 2017 photo gallery

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