Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Token training

When it comes to the current economic climate, the only thing we seem to be able to say with any certainty is that we are in a period of extreme uncertainty; as such, sensible financial decisions can be difficult to reach. Thank goodness for my latest little saving strategy: training. Not available in high street branches, this stable scheme relies simply on semi-regular deposits that are converted into "training tokens". One hour of graft earns me one golden nugget of a token.

There are various benefits of this scheme: you can cash in your tokens for things like cake and beer and kettle chips; or some people, I'm led to believe, put them towards holidays in bikinis. I'm more inclined towards the former or, even better, squandering them on races. The best thing about spending your training wealth in this way is, if done sensibly, racing acutally proves to be an investment with some pretty worthwhile returns.

For example, by February this year, I'd built up a good seed fund of tokens and opted to spend a few on a little half marathon. Not only did it earn me a bit of bling (and some rather dispiriting chafage), that half marathon took me over 2 hours and earned me another couple of tokens:


Over the months that followed, I continued this pattern of frugal training and shrewd race investments, banking a little ironboy and cheeky training marathon along the way.


August arrived and I took my piggy bank of training tokens to the bureau de change, hoping there was enough in the budget for big old bankroll of a race. Over to France we went, ready to blow the lot on the race that dare not be named. Unfortunately, even a favourable exchange rate wouldn't be enough to control the weather. Half a race later, I was in a slump: fit, a tiny bit frustrated, and flush with half of my hard-earned funds still burning a hole in my pocket.


Determined not to end the racing year on this downturn, I started to look around for another venture. Somewhat optimistically, with the encouragement of my financial advisor/ultramarathon pusher, Naomi, I set my sights on the inaugural Stort 30 mile run and continued to save my tokens again, albeit somewhat more "economically" than earlier in the year.

Race day arrived last Sunday with the dawning realisation that, if I was to avoid a double dip racing recession this year, an awful lot rested on completing this deal. Things started optimistically enough and, at the 15 mile turnaround, my stocks were secure; however, after 20 miles of muddy riverbank trails, I had fallen upon hard times and I was, in the words of Top Gun's Stinger, writing cheques my body couldn't cash. My assets were exhausted and in need of a fiscal stimulus, so to speak. I considered all available options to help boost the coffers, but with only finite resources (2 warm gels and half a bag of clammy jelly babies) and a somewhat limited market of sporadic dog walkers, I sensed a get-rich-quick scheme was not on the cards. I opted, instead, for a high interest, short term loan at the expense of my IT bands and any semblance of a normal running gait, and pushed on through to complete my first ultra marathon.


Somewhat disappointingly, there was no gold bullion at the end of this race - just a t-shirt and all the cake and tea I could manage. So, when I finally got home, I celebrated like an '80s stockbroker with a bottle of bubbly and a big fat cigar some fish and chips.

The moral of this story (and somewhat tiresome analogy)? When it comes to training tokens, they won't carry over to the next financial year. In short, use them or lose them. The way my legs are feeling a week later, I might be paying back this debt until Christmas, but sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hold that thought

Tired? Overworked? Lacking the creativity to update the neglected wasteland that used to be your blog? It's probably time to go for really, really long run.

Just look at all the profound thoughts that could occupy your mind, if only you would take yourself out for nearly 6 hours along a muddy canal towpath in Hertfordshire:


You're welcome.
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