There’s no hiding from it…. I’m 40 now. For what it’s worth, I don’t much care and I don’t feel any different – what’s all the fuss about? Why is thirty-nine one thing, and forty another?
Given that a big party seemed unreasonable, foolish to plan in case of some disaster unthinkable in the before times, and well, an awful lot of hassle; instead of that, I decided to “celebrate” (commemorate?) my fortieth by running every day for forty days.
Quite! I mean, what sort of person runs every day? Why would anyone do a thing like that?
Yeah, that would have been my reaction too a couple of years ago.
Here’s the low down on what I pounded out through my legs and feet over those 40 days:
- 🏃♀️ 226km covered running
- 🧮 41 activities because large boy dragged me out for a second run on my last afternoon
- ⛰ Scolty Hill 1st August
- 🎯 half marathon on my birthday (love the fens, it’s much easier without hills)
- 📥 25m58s ParkRun on 14th August and even better with my mum for company(ish)
- 📈 1km PB of 4m12s on 12th August
- 📊 2202m of elevation climbed
- 😱 No injuries but lots of aches and pains along the way.
During the same 40 days, I walked 55.61km on top of that, mostly with the boys on holiday.
I know some people manage to run 200km a month every month, but I usually manage around 100km and I feel really pleased with that. So to do more than double that over a month and a bit feels like a massive achievement to me. I ran at least 3 km every run, usually 5 or more and five runs were over 10km.
The half marathon on my birthday had been my original plan in February when I first started thinking about longer distances, I took it really really easy because I was conscious that running every day wasn’t the best preparation for that sort of long run. My elapsed time came in at 2hrs 23min, which is perfectly respectable. I went out early so that I could still enjoy my birthday with my family, so I was home and cleaned up by 10am – perfect!
I’ve done RED events before – RED January this year and I think I did RED for a month some time before that too. For those, there was lots of media about and Strava and Instagram posts from other runners providing a sort of support team, all egging each other on. For my RED40, I got some non-deliberate encouragement from gin_drinking_running_mum over on Instagram – she’s well over the 100 mark on her own run every day adventure and a real inspiration.
This time, I was out on my own. My little private mission, relying on my personal determination to keep getting out there. I was doing fine for the first couple of weeks. Then I ran up Scolty Hill in Aberdeenshire and that afternoon I was sore. The next day, standing up was rather uncomfortable. But those times are when we really pull ourselves together mentally, I grabbed my running shoes and went for a nice gentle, slow run along the flat banks of the river Dee. Lovely recovery run, peaceful and beautiful – just what I needed.
From then on in though, I was a bit achy most days. Just muscles and joints getting a bit tired – nothing that another run couldn’t ward off though! But getting my head in the right place every day to head out of the door wasn’t always easy. So many times I went to bed thinking “I could just do a little loop tomorrow” or “could I replace a run with some yoga?”. My body was tired and, by the end, my head was tired too. But I never gave into that temptation to cut a corner or take the easy option – sure I literally cut corners and avoided the “hill of doom” several times while actually running, but I stuck with it and kept pushing myself to keep with the plan.
Emotionally, I think it was more of a struggle to make myself leave the house in my running kit every day than it was for my body to physically make the movements I required of it. However, I did it and I feel pretty good about that – now that it’s over!
Here I am on the last day, feeling awesome and relieved:
Once the relief of the last run had worn off, I felt a bit sort of lost and without purpose. The first day when I didn’t run, I had to fight myself pretty hard to resist the temptation to pull on my trainers and head out for a little 3km trot. After so many days and weeks of planning an hour or more’s slot each day to accommodate a run and a shower, it constantly felt like I’d forgotten something important.
The day after that I couldn’t resist and got back out on the road. Apart from anything else, I needed to get back into my routine of three runs a week, with only one on a work day so that I wouldn’t take so long away from my desk and could justify fetching the boys from after school club at a decent hour.
The training effects of running every day weren’t inconsiderable. I managed some awesome PBs during that 40 day period and when I got back to less regular runs they felt easier too. I did a 10km that felt hard work in the humidity but managed a sub-58min time, if that felt bad, imagine what I might do if the same route felt good with less heat and moisture. A week before that I’d had a 10 mile second best effort too.
I got a Garmin watch (Vivoactive 4s music, if you’re interested) for my birthday, half way through my RED period. So, I don’t know what my health stats were like before I started. But, by the end my VO2max was 47 and I had a “health” age of 20 – pretty ace right?! My VO2max has gone down a point two weeks after stopping, but that seems fair enough.
So in terms of fitness, I’m really pleased with the after effects of all that effort.
How about you?
What have you done to mark a big birthday? Or have you got any plans or a bucket list?