The Challenge: To run 100km in 28 days.
Organiser: Great Run – with profits going to NHS charities.
So, we arrive at the final week of the solo challenge. This nail-biting tale of running derring-do approaches a conclusion. It has been a slow-burning story, very much like a Nordic screenplay carefully layering a narrative interleaved with philosophical observations. You are not surprised if it never reaches a conclusion, the finishing line is always going to be arbitrary.
The story so far – 45km completed in 21 days, and only another 55km needed over the next 7 days.
Monday 1st June 2020
A late morning start as I headed out to Titchmarsh Nature reserve. Lovely sunny morning and a target distance of 8km in my mind. Where it stayed. The terrain was a bit challenging for my weakened left ankle – I came close to twisting it again and had to walk a small part of the circuit of the lake because of the severe unevenness. I completed 6km and found another new stretching zone – a seat where I have shared time and a beer with special people.
Tuesday 2nd June 2020
Unusually, but of necessity, today I have to run after a day at work. To Wicksteed Park in the lovely warmth of early evening. Apart from another close encounter with a couple of Canada geese, I completed an unremarkable and uneventful 6km.
Wednesday 3rd June 2020
I found out after the event that this was in fact Global Running Day. Who even knew there was such a thing? I am slipping further behind my target so decide to take drastic steps to get back on track. Welcome to the introduction of twice a day running. I know it is not a new concept to many people, and there are arguments for and against such an approach, but it is new to me. My main concern was not to trigger an episode of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the following day, so gentle pacing was the order of the day.
The morning session unfolded in warm sunshine and included watching goslings being fed by a toddler and her mum. I stretched by the railings overlooking the lake after my 6km.
The afternoon session unravelled under a damp and grey sky. Another 4km in the pot.
Thursday 4th June 2020
This was an early start for me (around 08.30) because afterwards I planned to drive 150 miles to surprise my sister on her birthday and to see my parents. In the back of my mind was the intention to have an early evening run by The Solent. Needless to say, that’s where it stayed – time ran away from me and the grey sky was not very inviting. We elite runners are sensitive to atmospheric conditions.
This morning’s efforts in the park put another 4km in the pot. The target is within reach, but I’m going to have to push it over the next three days. This is not good practice – recovery time between runs is crucially important (and regular readers of my blog will know I’m hot on recovery time!).
Friday 5th June 2020
My goodness, I’ve been doing so much running that I’ve had to start a new log book! I probably spend more time writing about my running than I do actually running. I’ve got more log books than the Starship Enterprise!
To the park this morning in the chilly sunshine. I woke with a bit of a headache, but with an analgesic and determination I managed to run through it. Lots of geese around today – I should remember to use them as a prompt to relax more when I am running – loosey-goosey. A good 6km chipped off the target this morning.
Back to the park this afternoon – still chilly sunshine, with the added edge of a brisk breeze. I somehow managed to squeeze out another 4km.
Saturday 6th June 2020
The penultimate day of the challenge, and it is like autumn out there. Grey skies, strong wind and squally showers. I put my running shoes on just as the skies opened again, somewhat dampening my spirits and motivation. I took them off and skulked indoors, trying to resign myself to the fact that I would not reach my target distance by midnight tomorrow. Around lunchtime there was a break in the clouds and I headed to the park with a bit more determination. I was feeling quite tired because I had not been giving myself enough recovery time between runs over the past few days.
It was a struggle and I needed three bites of the cherry to make any sort of dent in my target. I ran 3km, then 1km, then another 1km, with little rests in between. Another 5km in the pot, even though it kept trying to wriggle out.
Sunday 7th June 2020
The final day and 19km to complete. This morning it is all about getting on track, so off to the lovely Brampton Valley Way, the course of a disused railway. I headed south from the Draughton Crossing for about 5.5km, then did a quick about-turn to complete 6km. A little bit of walking interspersed with not very enthusiastic jogging back towards the start, and then I unleashed another 3km of running (well, continuous jogging really). So, a total of 9km in the pot. And my pony fan club were there to greet me at the end. Just the afternoon session to get through…
We all love an afternoon in the park, except when you still have 5km to run. I twisted my ankle as I approached the end of the first mile – I was on uneven ground to facilitate some social distancing and misjudged the edge of the path. Calamity! I limped along for a few yards (at times of stress I revert to imperial units) and then transitioned to very gentle jogging, and then to normal running/jogging. I ran through the pain and completed the 5km with a great sense of relief and satisfaction.
And by my calculation, that gives a total of 55km for the week, and 100km overall.
I am pleased I took on this challenge. It has helped to improve my stamina and resilience, although there is still much work to do – especially on hills. I feel I have rediscovered my inner runner.
The challenge was set up to raise funds for NHS Charities Together. I did not create a sponsorship page, but if you have enjoyed reading about my adventure and/or want to record your amazement and awe at my achievement against the odds – injured ankle, aggressive geese, and wind and rain – then please consider making a wee donation to NHS Charities Together.
Thank you for following my little adventure. Who knows what will be next?!
As ever, please continue to run free, happy and safely.