Fitness, Health, Miscarriage

RED January Review

I already shared some pictures of my RED January efforts. Its the first time that I’ve participated in an effort like that, I did some last year but not officially and didn’t run every day. I quite wanted to look back and reflect on how I coped, what I learned and plan what I’m going to do next.

My efforts

1 Jan 20215.81km39m 9sslow and steady as very slippery out still
2 Jan 20213.31km18m 48swalked up the very icy hill
3 Jan 20213.64km20m 9sout and back
4 Jan 20213.28km20m 31sblack ice on the pavements
5 Jan 20213.32km19m 8sout and back
6 Jan 20212.07km (plus 1.3km)12m 42s (plus 8m)forgot to turn Strava on
7 Jan 20213.49km20m 16ssprinkling of snow
8 Jan 20212.22km14m 45sslow and short, large boy for company
9 Jan 20215.46km32m 40s(not)ParkRun
10 Jan 20213.70km22m 16sregular loop
11 Jan 20212.55km15m 49snot feeling it at all
12 Jan 2021Yoga as himself out at work all daylight hours
13 Jan 20213.45km21m 16swet and horrid and splashed head to toe by a white van
14 Jan 20213.11km19m 18svery wet out there, flooded path
15 Jan 20212.84km21m 52swith 2 boys slowing me down, very cold
16 Jan 20216.01km35m 26s(not)ParkRun
17 Jan 20215.08km31m 27ssloooow, bloody great hill
18 Jan 20213.08km17m 9sfound another gear, too cold for no gloves
19 Jan 20213.43km19m 32sregular loop
20 Jan 20213.53km20m 45sStorm Christophe, very muddy but back in time for 10.30am meeting
21 Jan 20213.68km23m 39ssnow, out while it was still crisp and not yet slushy
22 Jan 20213.20km18m 24searly, beautiful, fought the bloody great hill and won
23 Jan 20215.13km32m 43s(not)ParkRun, more snow, slower than my Dad
24 Jan 20213.38km19m 9swasn’t snowing when I left, came on while out
25 Jan 20214.03km24m 3sout and back
26 Jan 20213.65km21m 37svery heavy legs
27 Jan 20213.29km19m 51swent for a different route for variety, forgot about the two big hills
28 Jan 20213.10km18m 58sout and back
29 Jan 20213.38km20m 6stook kids to the part, they faffed, did sprints with large boy then went out on my own a bit at the end
30 Jan 20213.53km19m 33sregular loop, enjoyed that
31 Jan 202110.29km1h 6mslow and steady, marking 2 years
TOTAL116km14h 36m

How it felt

I’d been running regularly all through December, even making it out on Christmas day but the last week of 2020 I only had a couple of runs so I could go into January relatively fresh.

The first couple of weeks were fine, I didn’t push hard as I knew it might be a long haul and I didn’t want to get too tired at the beginning. Schools were closed at the start of January too, so I tried to take the boys out with me on Fridays so they would get some fresh air as well.

By week three I was starting to tire, I had a few runs where my legs felt really heavy and I just didn’t enjoy them. I still made sure I did a 5km once a week, but otherwise didn’t push myself because I don’t want to fall out of love with running.

By that last week, wow I was tired. My legs didn’t much fancy going out and the chaos of trying to squeeze in a run every day, around work and home learning, was taking its toll. I was really looking forwards to the end of the RED period. However, I was determined to keep going and when I hit that magic 100km in the month marker on day 29 it gave me the inspiration to complete the month.

I’d always planned to run a 10km on 31st January, to mark the second anniversary of losing baby boy3. In the event it was a really tough 10km. I was tired, my legs were heavy and it was windy. On top of that, I added on an extra loop to the end of my usual almost-10km route to save me from doing circles when I get home to make the distance. What I didn’t know was that little extra loop featured a rather steep hill. At 6km out with 4km to go, it was not the greatest timing to introduce an extra challenge. Between that extra effort, the wind, and my tired legs it was the slowest 10km I’ve ever done. But at the end of 31 days of exercise, I was nevertheless proud of my achievement.

The aftermath

Well, on 1st February it was back to work and home learning but without a run to fit in. What a relief! But I didn’t sleep so well that night, or the next. On 3rd February I went out for a 5km run and loved it, and slept better. My body seems to have adjusted to daily exercise and it’s going to take a while to get used to being less physically tired at bedtime. I also experienced some noticeable aches and and tightness once I’d stopped running daily too.

An unexpected readjustment was remembering when to wash my hair. Sounds ridiculous right? When I ran every day I washed alternate days and rinsed in between. Having stopped all that, I don’t seem to be able to stand in the shower and remember whether I shampooed last time or not.

You might have noticed that I didn’t mention my knee during my notes on how it felt. That doesn’t mean its fine I’m afraid. It still niggles and feels stiff after hilly or longer runs. Its definitely not fine and I still probably ought to take it to a physio. But I’m just not happy to do that at the moment, its not bad enough for me to balance the risk (to myself or to a physiotherapist) and come out being prepared to book a visit. After that last 10km, it was quite tight but I had a really hot bath when I got in and then kept it moving all day, the following day it was much better. I’ve definitely learned how to manage it better, both during my runs (compression thingy, slow on the hills going up and down) and afterwards (stretch, hot shower, cold gel, keep moving).

What I learned

I’d already found out that I possess secret depths of determination that come on when I decide to run. When I’m out on the road and its 3km home and I’m tired, I don’t stop – or not for long, just a drink of water and a pause to catch my breath before carrying on, even when my knee’s playing up. I’ve never yet needed to phone himself and ask him to pick me up because I’m too tired or in pain, but then I haven’t fallen and hurt myself badly either.

Running every day takes a different sort of determination though, its more a dedication to a plan – especially with home learning in the mix. I’ve had to be organised, had to plan new routes, had to get myself ready for a run well before setting out so I can squeeze it between meetings and then be brazen enough to sit in video calls red-faced and sweating, had to be disgusting enough to wait for a shower until work’s done for the day, and had to rely on himself to support the boys’ home learning so I can achieve my goals.

So those 116km aren’t just down to me and my legs, himself and the boys get to take some credit too. They’ve supported me logistically and sometimes physically too – even if the boys do slow me down a lot.

What’s next

Having completed a month of daily running, I’m changing my focus. Small boy and I are doing a 28 day plank challenge through February (he loves to plank!) and I’m working out how to train myself towards a half marathon by August for my 40th birthday. If I can hit sub 2h30min, that’ll be a huge present to myself.

12 thoughts on “RED January Review”

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