Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I can't afford to get injured again before the marathon'

In The Red

At last! I've started running again. And I cannot tell you what a relief it is. Three weeks after a painful back injury forced me to pack in jogging (not to mention cycling), I'm gingerly making the first few steps back into my old training routine.

This is good for two reasons. First, because next spring I'm going to be running the London Marathon – God help me – in aid of Save The Rhino (you can be sure there will be plenty of sponsorship pleas before long); consigned to the sofa by my injury, I had started to fear that I might have to walk it, Katie and Peter-style, since I had become so unfit.

The second reason is that, without cycling and running, I couldn't afford to exercise. Gyms are out of the question – they are simply too expensive – as are the various classes on offer: dancing, yoga, aerobics, whatever. Instead, I was forced to adhere to a routine of – oh, the shame! – Davina McCall exercise DVDs, and long genteel walks with my iPod. Neither, regrettably, provided quite the same satisfying sense of athleticism as running – though, under the circumstances, there wasn't much I could do.

What a relief, then, to find myself able to run again. True, my back still hurts a little – though I think that's from stiffness as much as anything – and my body's still getting used to the 6am starts that a morning jog requires but, as they say, things can only get better.

There's only one problem. I'm desperately, hopelessly, unfit. After three weeks. THREE WEEKS! How can this happen? Admittedly, the few seasoned joggers I know had all warned me that this might happen but, I have to say, I didn't honestly believe them.

So now I face yet another financial choice: do I splash out on a brief month-long gym membership for a short, sharp burst of intensive training to get my fitness up to scratch? Or do I just start the slow build all over again, huffing and puffing after a couple of miles when I used to run twelve with ease?

It's not much of a choice to be honest. I'm obviously not going to go for the former; given that I snubbed gym membership when I first hurt myself, it wouldn't make much sense to join one now. So I guess that's me sorted then: doomed to a morning ritual of dragging myself along the canal and wanting to pass out at the end of it. Let's just hope this doesn't all happen again before the marathon.