Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Runstreak

I am a runstreaker.

I attempted a runstreak a few years ago and got to 279 days before tearing a calf muscle during a race. That was it. I had given it a go, achieved reasonable success but that was that box ticked, never to be revisited. Until a few years later…

A few friends I had made through Twitter were runstreaking but it was a particular friend who inspired me to have another go. He stated that it was his aim to run every day for a year and then stop. Stopping is the hard part! He succeeded on 27th September 2013. I decided to try the same and so my runstreak started on 28th September 2013 and at the time of writing, I have failed to stop.

So what’s so good and what’s so bad about this sort of behaviour?

I’ll get the obvious good points out of the way first. Exercise is good for you, both physically and mentally. There that didn’t take long. Less obvious benefits include the following:
It takes the decision making process out of one’s hands. There is no dilemma as to whether to run today or not.
It slowly builds up stamina.

Bad points? Er…..struggling here! People ask how I don’t get injured. Don’t your knees hurt? Etc etc. Well actually I think this is a good not bad point. My body is stronger for it and so is less likely to suffer injury. I run 90% off road which I think helps too.

Now some thoughts on my own experience, totally unscientific, totally unproven but very personal.
By running every day, my body has become used to it. My muscles just start to work, my joints to move. Running longer distances (more of which later) have, I am fairly sure, taught my body to burn fat for energy which is more consistent than the sugar high, sugar low experiences I have had in the past. The longer I go, the more my body asks for salty stuff like nuts and the longer I go, the more I gag at the thought of sweets.
Mentally I am delighted to be able to do what I do and for me that is a huge plus. It makes me feel good about myself and having flirted with depression I can tell you for sure that that is important.

And it’s the mental side of the runstreak that interests me most. Aside from the benefit mentioned above, what else goes on in my head?
To start with my objective was to try to run every day for a year. Runstreak rules dictate that the minimum allowed is one mile. I had a good few one mile streaksavers in that first year but by the end of 2014 (including the 95 days in 2013)I had run 2512 miles at an average of 5.46 per day. I had upped my mileage considerably in the latter half of the year to try to run 2014 miles in the year 2014, which I achieved on Christmas eve if I remember correctly.
My runstreak then became a bit aimless in 2015. I had no intention of repeating the calendar year mileage total. Indeed my total for that year was 1626 or 4.46 per day, a drop of one mile per day. The runstreak was the important thing, not the mileage.
2016 changed all that. Having “retired” from marathon and long distance running generally in August 2015, I found myself lured back. I upped my targets and what at one time would have been a high mileage week became the minimum acceptable. 50 miles. But will that not be enough in the future? This is where the lines start to become blurred.
In 2016 I ran over 100 miles in a 7 day period once (if not a true Monday to Sunday week) by running half marathon distance or more each day, I ran an 80 mile week and ran in total 2606 miles for the year or 7.12 per day. Do you see where I am going with this? The targets seem to have to keep going up so is this a downside of the runstreak or the mental fragility of this runstreaker? I suspect it’s the latter.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on running.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hardmoors Saltburn

I'm writing this 4 days after the race so my feelings are a mixture of the raw and calmed down. I last ran a "marathon" on February this year. I use the word "marathon" as the Hardmoors events are always a wee bit longer. "Free miles" they call them !

I hurt a lot in that last one, mainly due to a pelvic problem that caused severe pain in my left leg on the descents. I withdrew from similar events in April and May.  My confidence had been severely dented by that pain.

After running well, strong and pain free during July, I decided to run this one. I hadn't trained for it as such, but did put in a 10 mile/20 mile Sat/Sun 2 weeks before as well as my general running. Perhaps I should have picked up the clues that Sunday. The last 8 miles or so hurt. Not pain as such, more a cumulative hurt in my hip area and feet.

I travelled south to Seahouses to meet up with old friends on the Saturday. Having spent an enjoyable evening with them, I bedded down in my van knowing I had set my alarm for 5am. This was my last view that night. Bamburgh Castle.


After a reasonable nights sleep, I awoke to this view and enjoyed it as I breakfasted on the beach at 5.30am on a pork pie, a tin of peaches and some chocolate milk. Please don't judge me! Holy Island and Lindisfarne.


To the race then. It was a lovely warm and sunny day, which doesn't suit everyone but I'll take that over a miserable cold one. There was plenty of water at the checkpoints, so dehydration shouldn't have been a problem.

Initially, the route follows the cliffs. These are mighty cliffs and the views were something to behold. I trotted along feeling good, enjoying the place I was in both physically and mentally, aware that there was a long way to go. I was photographed around this time. A rarely smile, so this probably says a lot about how I was feeling!


Now things began to change. Around 8 miles I was chatting with a man aware how much I was beginning to feel this. He was cruising along quietly (but speaking to him afterwards I found out his pain came too!). By 12 miles I was hurting, aware that I had a long long way to go.

After this I managed to get into a zone I've been in before, where i just tick the miles off and by 17 I was feeling better about this whole thing. However my hips and feet were really starting to shout at me and I began to think all the thoughts I'd thought before about this being too far for me now. I was hurting, I wasn't enjoying it, I was grinding it out.

About this time I found myself running with a man named James, who was happy to chat and help the miles pass. He knew where I live and someone there, so the chat was easy and helpful. James and I ran together to the finish and I'm sure we both appreciated each others company in equal measure.

So despite the hurt, I'd knocked out another "marathon" (28.9 miles). I had a special recovery weapon waiting for me in the van! Yup, Brewdog Punk IPA :-)


So now I've had a few days to let the dust settle so to speak, the question is should I run another? No is the answer. I love running so much and I want to run for as long as I can for the rest of my life. The bottom line is that I did not enjoy that. Its a great course and I'd recommend it to anyone, but it is simply too far for me now.

Dunsrunner hereby announces his retirement from marathons and ultras (but reserves the right to change his mind!)