As I was running on September 1st 2013 I decided that I was going to run every single day for a month. Minimum of 1 km. “I wonder what will happen?” I thought. “Will it make me a better runner? Will I be the next Ron Hill?”
Firstly I regained my love of running, and relished the challenge of fitting the run into my lifestyle. One month became three (now a minimum of 1 mile), which became ‘until Christmas’ with a fastest ever parkrun and a second fastest half-marathon without any specific training. After that the obvious choice was to target a whole year and at that point I simply didn’t stop. It did cause problems. There were conflicts at home as my run meant that i would just up and off at apparently inopportune moments. Plans don’t always work out as you would hope. In the summer I was running first thing in the morning to enjoy the sunrise and ensure I didn’t miss my run. In Winter it was often late at night, dragging my sorry arse out of the house in driving rain. On the second Christmas Day I ran in the evening on a bellyful of nosh as food prep had gone off schedule. The toughest was just before midnight one windy rainy evening. We had been at the hospital for hours with Anya, I was wearing jeans and a fleece, running around the hospital grounds in a pair of Timberland boots. But I did it.
After a while I simply didn’t know how to stop, then it got to the stage that I wished I could stop. After I got past that I decided not to record all the runs, just run them because I wanted to. But the last 12 months became draining. I have felt slow. My running performance has dropped quite considerably, from a 19:02 parkrun to a best of 19:31 in 2014, 19:37 in 2015 and this year 20:35 (so far)
So as I stood at the top of Beeston Hill last Thursday watching the sun float down towards the horizon I reflected on what I had learned over the past three years.
- If you put your mind to to it you can achieve anything.
- If you have a goal and a plan you will succeed
- More running does not necessarily equate to better running
- Running every day can be used as an excusse not to do enough exercise
- A shit diet and shit sleep patterns will not allow you to recover sufficiently to stay healthy and energetic
- Actually it is possible to run around an injury.
- Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
- Quality over quantity – just as I tell my clients!
As I started running back down the hill I admitted to myself that I was no longer getting any benefit from a running streak. I had proved to myself I could do it, and be a better runner. I had flown right through overtraining, out the other side, recovered and then eventually crashed. My left ankle had been letting me down, feeling very weak on the XC legs of the Tour of MK, and I realised I had very little power coming from my left side.
“If I continue this running streak” i said to myself as the wind attempted to blow my hair, “then I am going to come a cropper.”
“are you enjoying running all the time?” I asked myself
“no” was the surprising reply
“so why do it?”
Even more surprising was my response to myself, “you have an excellent point, I have nothing to prove here, lets have a break”
I did enjoy my bottle of prosecco that night.