May 2020 will live long in my memory. Not only because it was yet another month in a coronavirus lockdown in the UK, but also because it was the month I finally did “10K A DAY IN MAY”.
When I first conceived the idea of running a 10k every day in the month of May, actually on the first day of the month, I never dreamt how it would affect me. But I’ve learned 3 key things about running and myself this month that make the experience worthwhile.
Before I get into the details though I do want to acknowledge the donations that I have so far received from generous people – many of whom I’ve never met in person. As it stands I’ve raised £185 of my £500 target for Versus Arthritis.
So, what did I learn running 10k a day in May?
1) It’s harder than I thought but I am resilient
I have to admit that when I thought about the challenge I didn’t give it the respect it deserved. 10k a day for 31 days straight is 310km (or 193 miles) and given that 10k is a distance I like to run I thought it would be pretty straightforward. I’ll stop short of saying I thought it would be easy, but not far off.
I always say that a challenge has to be challenging, otherwise what is the point in taking it on? This is especially true if you are encouraging people to donate money to charity off the back of your challenge.
The first 7 days were reasonably straightforward and I sailed through them. I was even putting in some runs longer than the required 10k as I had to side-challenge of hitting 200 miles in total for the month as well. But by the end of week two, I was feeling the strain. The daily grind was taking its toll on my body and I was feeling really very tired. This continued into week three and I dialled back the extra mileage and kept my runs pretty much bang on 10k.
While it turned out that the challenge was hard than I had anticipated I found a resilience within me to keep grinding out the miles. Thankfully, the fact I am furloughed from work meant I could be flexible about when in the day I ran and worked around Helen’s shifts and the girls home education.
Come the final week, and without really noticing it at first, I had reached a level of fitness where I was back to sailing through the miles again. I was running longer distances and really getting into some seriously feel-good runs. There was one run, in particular, a trail run as they became my preference, where I was running on a narrow track. It was twisting, turning and undulating but I was in a zen-like state of cruising through and moving so smoothly over the ground that it just felt so awesome. They really are theHoly Grail of runs.
2) I really do prefer trail running
Okay, I alluded to this in the first point. And okay, I think I already knew this, but I am sure now that I do prefer trail running to being on the road.
Early on in May, the UK was still under the stretched end of the coronavirus lockdown meaning that I could only exercise outdoors once each day. This meant that I did a few treadmill runs in that first week so that I could still go for a dog walk with the family too.
In total, 20 of my 31 runs in May were on trails (or mostly trails). Despite investing in a new pair of road shoes I opted more than ever to run off-road. But, this wasn’t entirely a choice I made for enjoyment. I wanted to run on softer surfaces often to minimise the toll the daily running was taking on my joints.
This doesn’t mean I will be abandoning road running entirely. After all, we need variety to keep us motivated. But with the weather as lovely as it is and summer building I am looking forward to fabulously long trail runs.
3) I really appreciate where we live
I decided from the outset that I would run every run from our front door and back again (unless I was on the treadmill). This was, of course, a decision initially due to the lockdown, but even when this was relaxed to allow travel for exercise I chose not to.
We live just outside the North York Moors on the Southern edge and this rural location is the perfect base for running. Whether it’s trails (oh those trails) or road, there is a myriad of choices to be made when it comes to route planning.
Most days I would have a route in mind before setting off, but sometimes I would just run and keep switching directions and making it up as I went along. One day I was tired and really low on motivation. I decide to stay around our small town but with all the roads and streets I was able to keep switching it up and keep going.
I am so appreciative of where we live and how lucky we are. As someone who loves to be outdoors, this is just the best place to be. Even a short drive in any direction can produce the most glorious running routes.
Now that this challenge is over I am turning my mind to what I could do next. Prior to this one I trained for and executed a sub-20 minute 5k. I do think that being furloughed has given me the motivation to take on challenges to keep my occupied.
During May I took a few short bike rides with the girls. I’ve not ridden big distances on my road bike for some time now and the bug bit me again. Maybe a cycling challenge – 1 BIG day around the North York Moors maybe?
But, running 10k (or thereabouts) every day for a month did leave me wanting more. I was limiting my distances when I felt the urge to run longer. A half-marathon or a 20-miler even? So I am looking forward to running a mixture of distances again and getting some speed-work back into my training too.
We shall see what June brings. But for now, Monday 1st June has been very much a rest day.
Thanks for reading and if you wish to donate to my fundraising then you can do so by clicking here.