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.
|1 Jan 2021||5.81km||39m 9s||slow and steady as very slippery out still|
|2 Jan 2021||3.31km||18m 48s||walked up the very icy hill|
|3 Jan 2021||3.64km||20m 9s||out and back|
|4 Jan 2021||3.28km||20m 31s||black ice on the pavements|
|5 Jan 2021||3.32km||19m 8s||out and back|
|6 Jan 2021||2.07km (plus 1.3km)||12m 42s (plus 8m)||forgot to turn Strava on|
|7 Jan 2021||3.49km||20m 16s||sprinkling of snow|
|8 Jan 2021||2.22km||14m 45s||slow and short, large boy for company|
|9 Jan 2021||5.46km||32m 40s||(not)ParkRun|
|10 Jan 2021||3.70km||22m 16s||regular loop|
|11 Jan 2021||2.55km||15m 49s||not feeling it at all|
|12 Jan 2021||–||–||Yoga as himself out at work all daylight hours|
|13 Jan 2021||3.45km||21m 16s||wet and horrid and splashed head to toe by a white van|
|14 Jan 2021||3.11km||19m 18s||very wet out there, flooded path|
|15 Jan 2021||2.84km||21m 52s||with 2 boys slowing me down, very cold|
|16 Jan 2021||6.01km||35m 26s||(not)ParkRun|
|17 Jan 2021||5.08km||31m 27s||sloooow, bloody great hill|
|18 Jan 2021||3.08km||17m 9s||found another gear, too cold for no gloves|
|19 Jan 2021||3.43km||19m 32s||regular loop|
|20 Jan 2021||3.53km||20m 45s||Storm Christophe, very muddy but back in time for 10.30am meeting|
|21 Jan 2021||3.68km||23m 39s||snow, out while it was still crisp and not yet slushy|
|22 Jan 2021||3.20km||18m 24s||early, beautiful, fought the bloody great hill and won|
|23 Jan 2021||5.13km||32m 43s||(not)ParkRun, more snow, slower than my Dad|
|24 Jan 2021||3.38km||19m 9s||wasn’t snowing when I left, came on while out|
|25 Jan 2021||4.03km||24m 3s||out and back|
|26 Jan 2021||3.65km||21m 37s||very heavy legs|
|27 Jan 2021||3.29km||19m 51s||went for a different route for variety, forgot about the two big hills|
|28 Jan 2021||3.10km||18m 58s||out and back|
|29 Jan 2021||3.38km||20m 6s||took kids to the part, they faffed, did sprints with large boy then went out on my own a bit at the end|
|30 Jan 2021||3.53km||19m 33s||regular loop, enjoyed that|
|31 Jan 2021||10.29km||1h 6m||slow and steady, marking 2 years|
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.
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.
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.