You know how some people start the academic year determined to do their best?
We, the couch potatoes, decided to trade Netflix for ICXCAC and running shoes.
We know what you’re thinking: why would perfectly sane people give up the TV for running? At first, that was us as well.
Who in their right mind likes running except for runners?
Personally, running was something I only considered starting after hitting the snooze button one too many times for a lecture that wasn’t recorded.
Yet we all signed up and so the training began.
We were gradually introduced to the runner’s world by the wonderful ICXCAC women’s captain, Charlotte Barratt.
The programme followed the NHS ‘Couch-to-5K programme’, a training programme designed to allow couch potatoes to eventually run a 5 kilometre race in a measly 9 weeks.
The first session was supposed to be relatively easy; we only ran in 1 minute intervals.
As easy as that sounds, by the end of it I was almost ready to quit and as training practices became more intense I began considering this option more and more.
Although I hate to admit it, the only thing that kept me going was food.
In my opinion, the ICXCAC Sunday breakfast is one of Imperial’s best-kept secrets.
As a broke student who has an addiction to brunch, these runs were the perfect bait. Run and you’ll get a full English.
Once we realised that ICXCAC members had the metabolism and passion to be serious foodies, we couch potatoes started showing up for more events.
Some of these events were events we genuinely never imagined doing such as 7am core sessions (yeah, they’re those people), LUCA Cross Country races (4-6km races on muddy trails up and down steep hills in some of London’s parks) to even trying out athletics’ track and field.
The best thing about these events was the love and support shown by the other members, because even though we weren’t competitive athletes we were never made to feel like we didn’t belong.
In each session we started with drills to perfect our technique and afterwards learnt how to stretch our different muscle groups.
After 5 weeks we were already running 20 minutes non-stop around Hyde Park in the dark wearing fluorescent gear, keeping a good pace, and managing not to look like our arms and legs were spaghetti floating around our body.
After a long term of constantly pushing our limits, the Richmond Park Christmas 5k (AKA our big debut as runners) eventually arrived.
In typical British spirit, that morning it decided to rain cats and dogs.
That didn’t deter us though.
Armed with face paint and our very first race number we ambushed the starting line, ready to make our mark.
The prospect of eating baked goods after the race was definitely a motivating factor (shout-out to Charlotte and her chocolate balls).
What a successful race it was!
All 9 of us not only managed to complete the race in 35 minutes and earn ourselves the biggest medal ever (with a Christmas pudding on), but the incredible Michael Fu, Fintan O’Connor and Claire Zhang even placed in the top 3 in their respective categories
“They all absolutely smashed it”, said Couch-to-5k Captain Charlotte.
“I can’t believe how far they came in just one term. It’s a massive personal achievement.
“Watching them cross the finish line on race day like real athletes in their ICXCAC vests made me incredibly proud, a bit like a mother bird watching her chicks fly off from the nest for the first time. Except running.
“Michael, Fintan, Claire, Karyshma, Noemie, Rachel, Nathalie, Lisa, Gabby and Maria - you’re all superstars”.
Our journey doesn’t end there though.
Some of us (Noemie, we’re looking at you) didn’t manage to make it to the race, so, we’re hoping to run a 5k together again in spring… just because we can.
Now that we speak the runner lingo, we all also want to try to get a new PB (personal best) and a SB (season’s best) and maybe even a 10k under our belts while we’re at it.
Turns out, running is addictive and now we’re one of “those guys”.