I started this challange on 11/06/2020 to raise money for NHS Charities Together Covid-19 appeal
Lockdown 2020During the UK coronavirus lockdown, I was, unfortunately (fortunately for my bank balance) evicted from my flat down in London. I subsequently had to retreat up North, back to the Cheshire countryside and cohabit with my parents.
Whilst working from home as a developer I felt the need to take on a challenge / new project to break up my days, get me out of my house and away from my desk! I think what followed can be summarised as
constructively losing the plot.
After a recomendation from a friend I landed on the Great Run Solos 2020 virtual running event #GreatRunSolo. This seemed perfect as I could ensure that my mental and physical wellbeing was taken care of whilst normality had gone to pot and have the brucey bonus of raising some money for the NHS during Covid-19. I’m always one for a throwing myself in at the deep end, so I signed up to the ultra catagory, made a JustGiving donation page and that was that!
I like to think I’m a half-decent runner, normally running between 10km-20km/week, 1-3 days a week with one being 10km+. The longest running steak I’ve managed previously was 7 days, each day running 10km. But by day number 7 a combination of fatigue and the desire to have a few beers would end it for me (I don’t know anyone who’s a fan of running with a hangover).
When I’d had some time to reflect on what I’d committed to, effectively a goal of 10k every day for the next month, I felt that uneasy feeling in my stomach — the time commitment, letting people down who’d donated, being reliant on weather conditions and the potential of injuring myself after running 28 days straight without a rest day. Luckily, I like that feeling as it usually indicates a quest worth pursuing! As put in one of my favourite books The War on Art:
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance. - Steven Pressfield
The ExperienceThe beginning of the challenge excited me and made me feel like I could do anything. I would wake up happier, with more enthusiasm knowing that I was going to accomplish something challenging each day. After about two weeks I started seeing that the time commitment was huge (with resistance training and stretching included, this was a time commitment of 2+ hours every day which I would fit in after work at 6 pm) Some days I could feel my limbic system acting up causing me to procrastinate from starting my runs, having some runs start at 9 pm.
My gung-ho approach did come to bite me in the second week with a calf injury. I naively thought I’d be able to maintain a fast pace throughout the entire month and just run through any pain without the conditioning. I neglected to listen to my body and just enjoy the process without breaking myself. This was a blessing in disguise as it slowed me down as I recovered brought me more in tune with my kinetics, recovery and diet. Luckily I’d been running 13km in the first week, so the couple of days off didn’t set me back too far for the rest of the challenge.
Overall, some days were better than others — I felt incredible somedays and other days my legs felt like they had no more. Towards the third week I wanted the challenge to be over but then I got a second wind going into the last week and approached it with the same energy I had at the start. I also found it very satisfying scrolling through my TomTom watch and seeing all the runs stacking up!
Overall I ran 280.7km (174.5 miles), which is equal to 6.4 marathons. I dropped an inch off my waist, my posture feels like it has improved and I’ve built some lean muscle mass into my calves and quads. While raising £675 for charity (as of 11th June 2020) The 10k runs left me pretty exhausted by day’s end so I slept like a baby but gave me the excuse to eat like an animal… what’s not to love! Overall I had more enthusiasm to take on other challenges with work and personal growth and had the energy and mental clarity to do it.
Using social pressure, such as carrying out a challenge like this for charity helps you in reaching your aim, I compounded this effect by posting my progress on social media to keep myself accountable. Now that it’s over, I feel a bit sad and want to come up with a new, more long term challenge to tackle. I challenge everyone to take on a quest of some sort. It develops your self-discipline muscle, gives you an extreme sense of control in your life, helps develop a new habit, and gives you more purpose every day.