The decumulator

Not having my sister’s forwarding address, I needed something to keep me busy this week to prevent an unhealthy focus on a year’s absence of her shenanigans.  Sis would have said, ‘go big or go home’, so I go stupidly big and sign up to The Accumulator Challenge (say this in an X Factor-type voice please)  – a running gauntlet laid down by Be Military Fit (BMF Bristol).

The rules are simple:

  • Sign up
  • Go public about this to your fellow BMFers
  • Commit to running every day for a week and try and ignore the fact that the clue is in the title, the distance will keep accumulating…just like the lactic acid in your legs.
  • Demand that any BMFers who haven’t signed up produce a sick note signed by Bear Grylls himself.
  • Pick a level for the challenge (1-6 with Level 6 accumulating (get it?) into a marathon on Day 7)
  • Mistakenly believe that because the levels are listed in kilometres the distance will fly by when you are used to running in miles.
  • Forget that you never train for a marathon like this – there would be rest days- tapering even – and carb loading.
  • Block some time out and put any bottle(s) of red wine out of sight for a week.
  • Try not to feel envious of those BMFers who have used the holiday card excuse (‘I’d love to do it but we’ll be on the M5 to Cornwall and I don’t want to leave the caravan on Day 6 and 7).

The week begins and I try to explain the challenge to Favourite Man (FM) who is lounging on the sofa watching ‘SAS Who Dares Wins’.

‘No, there is no prize money – there might be a medal, but no-one’s doing it for that.  No, no, there is no obligation to commit.  These things are character building.   Yes, I know I said I was really tired, but I am sure this will be energising.  I might need a scary goal; we all need to push ourselves sometimes. Bear Grylls will be so impressed with Bristol BMF if we all sign up. What?  No, I don’t think he is taking part, he is a very busy man.  Our Park Manager?  He said that if he wasn’t going to Cornwall and if he wasn’t injured, he’d be with us all the way – and that he would consider us all to be pathetic lardy arsed excuses if we didn’t take part.  Yes, I know I said my Achilles is complaining, but I am sure it will behave this week.  Just because Boris has decided that exercise now doesn’t count in the fight against obesity, I refuse to start calorie counting with him – I prefer to count kilometres. Yes, this is a chocolate bar, and yes, I am sure I should be eating it; I am pre-loading. No, we have not been asked to run in BMF masks and no, I am not sitting on your remote control, nor can I hear the kettle calling me.’

Anyway, short story very long (like the flipping distances in this challenge) The Accumulator (X Factor voice, remember?) does attempt to keep me distracted this week. It also keeps me very whingey and very short tempered.  At least I have something to push against.

In case you are concerned that only my legs have been getting attention this week, I have also managed to fashion some upper body conditioning by continuing to pack up my flat to discover whether the Spice Girls were actually correct in their 1996 assertion that 2 can Become 1. Let us hope that the lactic acid in my arms –  which has chorused with my legs in complaint about hulking boxes up and down three flights of stairs – is not a voice I should be listening to.  Sis would have said, ‘if it is not worth working for, it has no worth,’ and by that measure the Spice Girls are going to be very happy with my week’s work.

Mind you, sis’ other adage that, ‘you have to speculate to accumulate,’ whilst on the money for the BMF Accumulator,  hasn’t really rung true when packing up my belongings, for here I have desperately tried to decumulate.  Two can only become One, I realise, if one of them doesn’t try to sneak too many belongings into the new residence.  Here sis can be a little hypocritical, for although I have a dustbin liner in my weary hand and though I am armed with good intentions, I really don’t think she would expect me to ‘declutter’ the handbag collection I inherited from her.  Let us just say, that whilst I don’t really allow myself to taper this week, I have found many opportunities to sit amongst sis’ resplendent handbag collection and have allowed myself a few kilometres – miles even – as I have pottered off down memory lane. Needless to say, the dustbin liner remains empty.

So, reflections on the week?

  • Having built to a 28 km run on Day 7, I feel pretty smug, so I am glad I took part.
  • I only managed this last run by hijacking the sofa from FM yesterday afternoon and telling him I had lost the use of my legs – and sense of humour.
  • Running friends are the best – both those who were completing the challenge themselves and who were happy to share a banana and rattle though some KM’s together – and those who still have to be persuaded about the delights of BMF (come on, I’ll only get a referral t-shirt if you join us and a t-shirt has much greater kudos than an Accumulator medal #justsaying) but ran with me anyway, and tuned out my incessant grumbling and never once asked, ‘remind me, why did you sign up for this?’
  • Running has actually given me more time to think about sis rather than being the distraction I thought it would be, however in the words of Frozen’s Olaf, ‘all good things, all good things’. I now feel ready to run the postponed London Park’s run for Sue Ryder in October and feel I may run with one of sis’ handbags if I can adapt it to take gels and water. I am not sure whether a redesign counts as accumulation or decumulation but at least my intentions are good.
  • I have enjoyed the encouragement – and fellow whinging on Facebook – from my BMF compatriots.  We are a game lot and even if he is a lardy-arsed, injured holiday- taker, our park manager does a great job of keeping us motivated.
  • My own personal prize goes to my fellow 6 am boot camper who not only managed the challenge around a family holiday, but went for Level 6 in the Lake District saying flat ground was for wimps.  Admittedly he did sweet talk the Park Manager  to let him finish a day early so that he didn’t have to run beside his family car returning down the M6, but he encouraged the rest of us by posting photos of an ice water bath in Ullswater lake followed by a cheeky nip of whiskey from his hip flask (wondering if my handbag design could accommodate this addition?).

Not sure what this week will hold – in fact, I am wondering if my legs will hold out to attend boot camp on Tuesday morning .  I might even need to play the holiday card, but please try not to judge me.  I intend to avoid any BMF challenges for the rest of the summer – unless of course, we decide to do the challenge in reverse for there is something quite appealing about reducing your distance every day.  Maybe this is Boris’ plan to fight obesity.  Start big, end small (well smaller) and then start counting your calories.



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