This post was written by Christopher Lawless, a Suwonite who is taking on a half-marathon this April in Korea.

Serious nipple chafe. The smell of burning rubber. The sound of pounding feet, an aching body and taut thighs. No, I’m not behind the scenes of a Rihanna video shoot. Half-marathon time has arrived in Korea!

Part of my life plan on moving to Korea was to get fit, which was going swimmingly until I discovered the sacred soju and nightlife of our wondrous expat paradise. I needed a kick up the proverbial arse and decided that a half-marathon was the only thing which would scare me enough to get me down the gym each day. Now, I’m not going to change my name by deed poll to Linford Christie just yet but I’m tackling the training nicely, even if I do say so myself. And ‘training’, it would appear, is the word. These early weeks of training have been hard to set up into a routine. I’ve had to resort to drastic measures to get myself up and ready to roll as it’s a little difficult when it’s -16 outside and you have icicles forming from your nose. Said measures include: placing the alarm clock in the bathroom, enforcing a full body movement to shut the thing off, and placing abusive notes around the room to guilt myself into training. These include epic one-liners such as, ‘get in the shower and get to the gym fat boy’; ‘you make me sick!’ and, my personal favourite, ‘you’ve got bigger tits than Dolly Parton’. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind.

So, what next? I am currently in week 5 of a 12 week programme and it’s going surprisingly well. I’m already just off running the full distance and now have to work on my speed to get my time down. I’m mightily impressed with myself and I’m feeling good; positive, a little achy and very pumped – which surely beats a night on the soju. So, for those of you considering biting that bullet and prepping for a run this Summer, be it a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or even a full marathon (BRAVE!), I have compiled a list of handy do’s and don’ts to help you survive the early training period.

If I can do it anybody can:

DO: Set yourself a fully achievable plan (there’s millions on the internet). Don’t run before you can walk.

DON’T: Drink your body weight in alcohol and attempt a sprightly power run the next day. This will result in severe nausea, possible collapsing and the likelihood of vomiting on a treadmill. The poor patron on the Arse B Gone 2000 only came in for a rest from the kids and doesn’t want half -digested food matter in her hair.

DO: Track your progress and change your goals as you improve. Distance and speeds will improve dramatically if you push yourself and keep to a plan. Stay positive and don’t give up!

DO: Sort out your iPod and compile a monster of a playlist. Music keeps me motivated and let’s be honest nobody wants to enter the 10th km to the strains of Susan Boyle.

DON’T: Eat your body weight in Big Macs during the training period. Nourish your body with all manner of lovely stuff. It can’t run on empty.

DON’T: Let the death stares from other patrons in your gym put you off running like a mad man. I find the reserved attitude of Koreans in general sometimes spills over into my gym. Anything pushing over a jovial stroll for a prolonged period of time usually results in stares of annoyance, as if you’d just eaten one of said patron’s offspring.

DO: Find ANYTHING to keep you motivated and stick to it. If abusive notes aren’t your forte, try a treat day once a week. I love nothing more than to collapse into my local GS25 after Saturday’s run and purchasing the biggest bottle of beer I can find, throwing on some glad rags (after a shower, of course) and heading on out for a meal of my choice with cracking company and MORE beer. It does wonders in keeping me on the right track. Norebang is optional.

DO: Listen to your body. If in pain, stop. We aren’t X-Men, folks! Always have a couple of days off, especially after your weekly ‘big’ run. Also make sure you have the correct kit. A decent pair of running shoes are vital. Converse pumps: not so.

DO: Enjoy yourself! Hit the park when the weather has improved and make the most of it. Just don’t go running into trees as you survey the scene for hotties. Been there, done that!

So there we have it! I can honestly say I’m feeling excited about the event and am feeling better in every aspect of my life because of the training. I may spend the best part of my week looking like a satsuma and smelling like butcher’s dog but it’ll be worth it as soon as I cross that finish line (and head straight for the pub, obviously). Maybe I’ll see you on the start line? I’ll be the tragedy in nipple pink, doing several bouts of squat lunges adjusting my sweatbands like a TRUE PRO! I’m so cool. Come say hi!

Good luck and GOD SPEED fellow runners. I’ll keep you posted!

Follow Chris on twitter and read his blog Topher Law for more updates on his progress.

Images: kaneda99

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