A six-month running challenge

Heart rate data showing impact of illness

As if the past few months haven’t had enough of their own complications, I have been working on my long-distance running. Partly because as in 2014 I’ve been coming off the back of an injury and partly for my own recuperation from events earlier in 2015.

As with anything endurance-based, there needs to be a tangible goal, otherwise the training itself has no direction. In the past this has been race-oriented, e.g. the 13 Challenge two years ago and the marathon/cycling challenges which I did last year.

The 6 month +10 mile challenge

The theory to this challenge is simple, but it’s tougher than it looks. Starting from a non-zero month, each of the subsequent six-months need to record a total mileage of at least 10 miles more than its predecessor.

I tried to incorporate this into my training in late 2014 but with my mileage already high at this point, it was infeasible given the likely difficulties in getting out enough during the winter months in inclement weather (I’m a lightweight, but would rather avoid breaking bones slipping on ice). So instead I started at January 2015, and promptly wrote off the effect with injury 2 months later!

Now this challenge is slightly barking to say the least and so I’m not entirely sure whether it was the breakdown in April which enabled me to tackle it or whether it was my usual drive to do a lot of running. Having said that, I made the whole starting point rather tough having discovered the only way I could deal with the anger I was processing, by doing a lot of running.

2015 graph of miles each month

2015 graph of miles each month

So my original plan of starting at a nice low mileage to give loads of headroom was blown straight out of the water with the 73 April miles, not helped by the fact I was still running on pure fury in May as well! At least after that, with my heart rate and blood pressure coming back off the ceiling, no further excessive jumps in the mileage occurred.

As I explained a few days ago, with my Chester Marathon plans at the beginning of October 2015, I didn’t want to be hitting that off the back of any ludicrously long runs, and therefore the final total of 139 miles needed to be achieved prior to the end of September 2015 to give enough recovery and taper time, so to manage this with 2 whole weeks to spare was pleasing.

In fact the final 10 mile run occurred earlier than intended when I had the urge to go out and finish the job. Rather than giving 48 hours between the last runs, it all happened on consecutive days. But feeling the vibration of my watch to confirm that the 10th mile was in the bag, was a real boost. After all of the set backs thrown into the mix of 2015, this was a big win for me.

In fact, when one adds the total mileage over the six months, the total of 656 miles eclipses the 2014 total of 624 miles, which at the time was my greatest annual mileage. So I’m pretty stoked about that too.

So am I about to kick back and sleep for the rest of 2015? Well I’ll be the first to admit that after this year, hibernation is looking like a very attractive prospect. However, that isn’t going to happen. With Chester Marathon and Stockport 10 both booked for the autumn season, and the opportunity for other races, whilst I’m in this shape, it would be rude not to partake.

What I would recommend though is the principle of the 6-month challenge. It’s definitely tougher than it looks at the outset – your 6th month will contain at least 60 more miles than the first month. So don’t do what I did and start at 73 miles unless you really like running 🙂

The mind may be part-destroyed by 2015, but the body certainly isn’t. At least, not yet it isn’t………..

A final thought

Having been given the ‘devastating’ news last month that I needed reading glasses, I decided that the best approach was to pretend that news had never happened. Sadly, when trying to read a text on my mobile phone last night, I realised that regardless of how I held the phone and whether or not my normal glasses were perched on my nose, I couldn’t see it comfortably. So I sheepishly returned to the optician today to place that order for varifocals.

I guess that makes me officially an adult 🙁

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