‘I’m 37 with my first child on the way so I’ve signed up for a half marathon’

I’ve come to affectionately call them “chunder sessions” – lung-busting bouts of interval training where you’re pushed to your very limit.

I’m told the sessions – made-up of faster-paced running than your regular base runs – with Herne Hill Harriers will make me quick.

But in all honesty I’m just hoping they’ll help me complete the 2022 Royal Parks Half Marathon I’ve just signed up for with only five weeks of training.

So far they’re certainly helping with one thing: sleep.

They’ve left me exhausted, gasping for breath and drained from a part of my body that you didn’t know existed.

However the bizarre thing is this – despite the pure agony and notwithstanding my humiliating lack of fitness – the sessions leave me exhilarated.

I’m now 37, which means I’m on the precipice of middle-age with my first child on the way.

So – for reasons I can’t explain – I’ve signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

Maybe it’s the fear that within a year I’ll be tending to a newborn girl without the opportunity to exercise as much as I’d like.

Or perhaps it’s because the imminent new life has left me questioning my own health and mortality.

Either way, I have a race number and I’m committed to running 13.1 miles around the iconic landmarks of London.

So with the help of my running-expert-come-drill-sergeant sensai Angus Butler – a super-fit 30-year-old who moonlights as an accountant by day – I’m typing to get in shape.

Each week I tentatively head to Tooting Bec Athletics Track and each week I look at the daunting burnt orange rubber of the track.

It’s a 400 metre loop. Just 400 metres.

But surrounded by seasoned runners, expert coaches and pushed by Angus’ unrelenting enthusiasm, they push you like you’d never push yourself.

“Dan, that was a 23-second 100 metre,” Angus screams as I’m gasping for air on the top bend. “This is good, keep it up.”

It doesn’t feel good. There’s a heartbeat that pounds my head and my chest is screaming to stop.

But as I’m sprawled out on the track after a session, it all seems worth it.

There’s no endorphin hit like it and somehow you skip away from the track.

It seemingly works too, I’ve trimmed two minutes off my most recent Park Runs and nearing the speeds I achieved as a mere 30-year-old.

Whether it will help on the bends of London on October 2 is yet to be seen.

I’m no running novice – I’ve taken part in nine Great North Runs and my wife made me run the Paris Marathon in the early days of our blossoming romance.

But it’s been a few years since lockdown stopped me from taking part in an organised race.

I’m hoping that the stunning central London half marathon will help me through.

It takes in some of the capital’s world-famous landmarks on closed roads, and four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

Entering its fifteenth year, the 2022 Royal Parks Half Marathon is one of the most beautiful half marathons in the world, with 16,000 participants passing Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, Canada House and Buckingham Palace.

Partnered with Sweaty Betty and the Royal Bank of Canada, it is expertly delivered by LimeLight Sports Ltd.