I like to have a plan. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I need to know that there is some kind of plan. I’m not saying that I’m brilliant at planning all the time, just that I like to have one. If we’re sorting out the garden, or I’ve got a project on at work, or we decide we’re having a party, I like to scope out exactly what needs doing, who is going to do it, and how and when it’ll get done.
At the end of the first year of running a thousand miles, I had a plan for the second year. I’ve written about it in the last post way back in October – these were the highlights
- attempt 10K PB
- attempt Marathon PB
- attempt 5K under 20 minutes (PB currently 20:08)
- run 30 miles in a single day (to celebrate 30 years since Kirkwood Hospice opened)
- write a blog post every month
So, the blog post thing is blown already, but promise to try harder with that…..anyway, for the running stuff I needed to have a plan. This was the plan.
- Enter the Dewsbury 10K (Feb 5th)
- Enter the Manchester Marathon (April 2nd)
- Sort out a date in the summer to do the 30 miles
- try to run a sneaky sub 20 parkrun when no one is looking
The actual training plan for January was a mixture of speed and distance work, trying to get the miles into my legs to be ready for the 20+ mile runs I need to do in order to tackle the marathon, and to get the speed into my legs to have a really good crack at breaking my 44:20 10K time.
We’ve started doing speed sessions at work on a Monday lunchtime, there is a qualified run leader, who is far and away a faster runner than all of us, but then there’s me and another 2 guys who are pretty similar in terms of times and speed – we all entered the Dewsbury 10K – we all wanted to aim for around the 43 minute mark. Perfect. Just keep training, speed, distance on a weekend, should be a really good race come February – we have a bit of banter going too, so in a really nice guy non-competitive friendly way, it’s starting to get a bit competitive! Suddenly, Paul’s smashing his parkrun PB, he’s drinking less, none on a Friday, he’s had a massage – so this is going to be good.
Fast forward to Wednesday 11th January, and I take one of my occasional trips to Roberttown Road Runners, my club – I don’t get up there that often on a Wednesday because of taxiing duties, but I like to go run when I can. They had a committee meeting the previous night, and have decided that because the club is celebrating 25 years of existence, that anyone who wants to sign up could run for 25 consecutive days. There’ll be prizes. The first day is now. Today. 11th January.
I’m not always the most sociable guy, but I am wanting to make more of an effort with the running club because they’re a great bunch, so this is just the opportunity I’m looking for, maybe feel a bit more like one of the gang. So I sign up to do it. No thinking about it, no planning – I run reasonably often already (5,000 miles in 5 years averages out at 20 miles per week) so running every day (there is no stated distance but I commit to at least 2 miles per run minimum) will pose no problem, surely. It’ll be another interesting thing to add to the list of interesting things I did during my 5 years!
Wednesday’s club run is day one, day two is my after work Thursday run, both fine. Day three is a Friday, I never run on a Friday, a run doesn’t really fit in on Friday. And therein lies problem number one. As I am running up Stocksbank Road at 21:45 I’m starting to think about the fact that (a) this is EVERY day and (b) it isn’t always going to fit neatly in with life.
Day four, parkrun at Brighouse, all the other local ones are cancelled due to ice. I run there as I normally do on a Saturday morning, to get the miles in, and after the run I talk to another member of the club, one of the best runners. I ask him whether he is doing the 25 day challenge, and no he isn’t, because he wants to enjoy his running, wants to run because he chooses to, and doesn’t want to risk resenting it, by having to go out everyday if he doesn’t want to or if he hasn’t the time. I can see that. I tell him about last night, and how that was exactly what I was thinking. But I’ve signed up now. It’s a challenge.
I’m not going to bore you with going through every day, but the Sunday was fine, I would normally do some miles on a Sunday, and day six, the Monday, was a tough hill session at work during lunchtime. That really took it out of me, and the next day I felt really stiff. Ordinarily I would have a rest day, plus there is the small matter that I haven’t yet mentioned, that the Tuesday was my 50th birthday. But of course it’s day seven so there are no rest days, so before me and my wife go out for the day I go for a shortish run locally. However, because nothing is recovering everything is hurting. Days eight, nine and ten, I start to notice that my stomach muscles (the ones you can’t see because of the flab) are aching. Quite a lot actually. That only ever happened before on the rare occasions when I have suddenly decided that I need to do some “core” work so do some sit ups or planks.
Day eleven is my birthday party day (more about the party in a later post) – I wanted to try to do a decent parkrun time, my first one in the 50+ age bracket, so I went to Huddersfield and ran 20:41 my fastest time for a few months, but it hurt! I was exhausted on day twelve, the day after the party, did two miles in about 20 minutes, then for the rest of that week I was fitting a run in when I could, starting to feel really sluggish, and tired all the time, and also starting to understand why rest days are so important!
By the following Sunday (day nineteen) I was properly cheesed off with the whole thing, and I started to think about this blog post, and titling it “the worst mistake I’ve made so far”. I really wanted to see if I could enjoy a run again, so I went out and ran further, about 7 miles, a route I’m familiar with, music I enjoy, at a nice steady pace (but not too slow) and although I did get my running mojo back a little bit, I was far more tired afterwards than I would have been ordinarily.
During the week prior to this, I’d finally done the maths and worked out that the Dewsbury 10K, my big target race, was the day after the 25 day challenge, so I’d have zero rest days. Idiot. This is why I started the post by talking about planning, it’s unlike me to do something like this on a whim, and I quickly convinced myself that I’d ruined the whole plan. The blog, which I’m now starting to write in my head, will be all about how I had a plan and totally ruined it by signing up to something on a whim, how I hated it, and most importantly how the process ruined my chances of getting a 10K PB – because I realise by this point that that ship has pretty much sailed. My body hurts, and I’m tired all the time.
On the Wednesday, day 22, I’m running about three miles in the gap between dropping off and picking up one of my daughters, and I think about giving up. If I had two rest days, then did a slow parkrun on Saturday, I might be ready to battle through on Sunday. But whoever heard of anyone signing up for a 25 day challenge and quitting with three days to go? So I run the bare minimum on days 23 and 24, both 2 mile efforts, and then I put a post on Facebook basically feeling sorry for myself – can’t do it blah blah – and one of my running club buddies writes this underneath………
Andy mate you’ve got this! Get that happy face on we’re so used to seeing and get out and give it your usual 1,000,000,000,000% (I don’t know what actual number that is 🙈)
………..and I did start to wonder whether I was just being a total wuss, and this person was right – I’m not miserable, I’m a happy guy, and just because I felt a bit tired and I wasn’t sure what was going on with my body, didn’t mean I should just give up.
I went to Dewsbury parkrun on the Saturday, which was Day 25 – the intention was to run about 26 minutes, which is very steady for me, but I ended up going under 24 minutes, and I felt pretty good.
There were a few club runners there including some who had done the 25 day challenge, so it was good to catch up and chat. As I was walking back to the car I started to wonder whether tomorrow would actually be OK……
(In the interests of building some suspense, I’ll make this a two parter! ….and it will make me post again soon!)