No indulgences for Denmark

A WORKING CHRISTMAS II: Self-denial and even a portion of hard work are the watchwords for the professional
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Rob Denmark, Britain's Commonwealth 5,000 metres champion, maintains that he will not be making any sacrifices at Christmas because, as he says, "it's not an important part of the season" writes Mike Rowbottom.

But when you establish what his no-sacrifices Yuletide actually consists of, you also realise something about the compulsive nature of top athletes.

So here it is - the Denmark guide to a free and easy Christmas: On Christmas Eve, he will go for a run of 12-15 miles. In the evening, he and his wife Vicky plan to go to a party. Denmark, however, will not be drinking.

When they return home - which Denmark estimates will be in the early hours - he will set his alarm for a five o'clock call. At 5.30, he will set out for a 12-mile run.

The reason for this early rise, admittedly, is non-sporting. "It's because my wife gets so excited about opening the presents," he said.

On Boxing Day, as the nation picks desultorily at turkey fragments, Denmark will set out for Church Hill, near his home in Basildon. It is a very steep hill, and he will run up it very often - 20 times, jogging down in between. "I hate it," he said. "Butit's got to be done."

Really? On Boxing Day it's got to be done? Why?

"Because," he said, "I doubt whether people like Dieter Baumann or Khalid Skah will be saying to themselves, `It's Boxing Day, I think I'll give it a miss'. You have a schedule, and you've just got to keep things going."

Amid the rigorous training, though, Denmark has focused himself on a major seasonal event - mum's Christmas lunch. The family will gather on Canvey Island as usual to consume turkey with all the traditional trimmings, and Denmark intends to scoff for Britain.

"I won't be sitting back and watching other people eat," he said. "I'm one of those lucky people that doesn't put on much weight."

One of those lucky, 10-miles-a-day people.