I guess it’s no secret that I’m undertaking another physical challenge this year, my uber 2012 miles in 2012 challenge? If you’ve not spotted that fact then have a look at the challenge archive to see what it’s all about.
To try and make the overall challenge interesting, and also to keep myself focused and interested, I’ve signed up to various events throughout the year. These are all running or walking based, all with the aim to keep my training up and to have something to look back on from this experience – the medal collection is beginning to grow 🙂
A couple of months ago I spotted a tweet about the Longest Day Run and [perhaps foolishly] decided to sign myself up. The challenge was simple: run as many miles as you could between midday on Saturday 23rd June and midday on Sunday 24th June, that being the closest weekend to the year’s longest day.
There were no rules to speak of and no boundaries, no minimums and no maximums. It was down to the inidividual to decide what their challenge was and go for it, trying to reach a personal milestone or to achieve something they’ve never done before. This could be running their first mile or completing their first 100 mile ultra run.
The weeks proceeding last weekend weren’t the best training wise. As I’ve already mentioned on here, mentally and physically I was not on top form, only snapping out of it last week. A good thing really as I managed to get a few miles under my belt before midday Saturday came round…all too fast!
Not being able to count on the weather I planned on completing my challenge on my treadmill, not the most interesting of views but I’m normally okay on there as long as I’ve got my music to listen to and the fan blowing in my face.
I’d figured out a game plan for the weekend but hadn’t really spoken about it much as I really wasn’t sure if I’d set myself a stretch goal too far. The plan was to run 50 miles over the 24 hour period. Can you believe it?!
I knew I’d never be able to do that in one go – my old knees would never take that! – so I’d devised a plan to run for an hour at 9.5km/h, rest for 30 minutes, and repeat. Here’s a breakdown of my pre-challenge plan:
If I managed to keep to my plan I would run 50.18 miles, but never having done anything like this before I really didn’t know if my plan would work or not; only time would tell.
Somewhat foolishly, the night before the challenge I went into London with Shelli to meet up with her cousin and his wife. We went to a great restaurant near Chalk Farm called Belgo which had an extensive beer menu as well as great food. I’d planned on being sensible because of what lay ahead but once there, well, I just couldn’t resist!
It was a fantastic night out, and great to meet Neil and Fionna, but the morning after drinking a Satan Gold, Kwak, Rochefort 8 and Barbar Honey – all mixed up with different flavoured shots of schnapps – and a thoroughly awful journey home (we got in around 2:30am!) I was exhausted, ever so slightly hung-over and seriously doubting my chances of running for a single hour let alone all of the hours that lay ahead. What a twonk!
We didn’t rush up Saturday morning and it was close to 11am by the time breakfast was being eaten. Seeing as I was going to be spending most of the day on the treadmill I cooked Shelli breakfast in bed – even making her a cup of tea, something I very rarely do not drinking the stuff myself – hoping that it would make up for not being with her in some small way.
I put my running gear on, ate a big bowl of porridge and golden syrup, sorted out my iPod and water, and headed out to the garage for my first run. I was a little uneasy about it all due to the previous night’s fun and games but I was determined to give it my best shot.
The first run went pretty well – hot, but well – and when I hit the hour I decided that there was no point stopping at 9.5km and so pushed on for another 500m to get it up to a round 10km run. This cut into my rest time by a few minutes but I was feeling good so I wasn’t too concerned.
I logged my miles on Daily Mile, took my shoes off, and sat down until it was time to start my next run.
And so it continued for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I must admit, I was really pleased with how it went and the run/rest regime really did seem to be working very well indeed. I ate more porridge after a couple of the runs to keep my energy levels up and had some Lucozade Shelli picked up from the shop me – thanks love 🙂
By the time I’d finished my final run of the day – a little later than planned due to speaking to the girls at 6pm – I’d managed to complete five 10km runs, giving me an end-of-day total of 31.07 miles completed. That was a brilliant start and well on the way to my target of 50 miles.
My feet had taken the miles pretty well. As expected my little toes played up a little bit but some strapping seemed to sort them out enough to complete the runs. I also got a small blister on my right foot. Other than that they coped really well, as did my knees – not a single twinge from either of them!
Another plus point was the fact that I wasn’t finding the miles on the treadmill boring. I’d managed to sort the playlist on my iPod out pretty well and I had lots of fun(?!) singing along to the songs as I ran. Every now and then a real favourite song would come on and it brought a massive smile to my face 🙂
Shelli and I ordered pizza for dinner and, after having a shower, we chilled out. I was a bit more sensible this time and stayed off the beer you’ll be pleased to hear.
As you can imagine, after running 31 miles – the furthest I’d ever run in a single day before – I was little concerned about how my legs would be in the morning. I’m pleased to report that they were feeling amazingly well. As expected there were a few aches but everything was working and my knees didn’t hurt at all; one of my biggest fears of the challenge was buggering up my knees!
Encouraged by the state of my legs I had my breakfast – porridge again as it’d done such a good job the day before – and I hit the treadmill as 7am as planned.
The only thing that changed was the distance I was aiming on covering. I’d originally planned on just doing an hour covering 9.5km, which changed to 10km the day before. Sunday morning I didn’t fancy doing four runs, the final one being a short one, so I thought I’d see how it went doing 11km, aiming on doing three 11km runs and then calling it quits.
The first run went well, my legs really were playing ball and I seemed to have strapped up my feet well enough for me to run on them, although they were a little tender to start with. I was feeling pretty confident with only having two more runs left ahead of me. I’m still shocked thinking about it now just how well my tree trunk legs took Saturday’s miles.
It wasn’t long – or so it felt – before I was counting down the final kilometre of the final run. To say the last 500m were tough would be an understatement. All through the previous runs I’d managed to keep my mind positive and full of energy; the last 500m was a whole different kettle of fish. I wasn’t particularly tired physically – I know, that sounds silly but it’s the truth – but mentally, knowing this was the final stretch, my mind almost gave up and as I know all too well once that happens it makes the physical side of the challenge exponentially harder!
I plugged on though and finished the final run of the challenge – hurrah! I still had over thirty on the clock before midday but I’d had enough and so that was that, my Longest Day Run complete.
The Scores On The Doors
So I guess you might be interested in how far, and how long I spent, running over the 24 hour period? Okay, maybe you don’t but I want a record anyway so here goes:
An accumulated distance of 52.82 miles in 8 hours 38 minutes and 8 seconds – very, very happy about that. Okay, it wasn’t a constant nearly 9 hours of running but my running/rest regime definitely paid off as (1) I got up Sunday morning and my legs were working, and (2) I managed to beat my target of 50 miles by nearly 3 miles.
If I’d woken up Sunday morning after Saturday’s 31.07 miles and not been able to move I would have been okay with that – not over the moon, but I’d have been okay. Managing to do another 21.75 miles on Sunday was just amazing.
I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of over that 24 hour period and it’s challenges like that that make life interesting.
One quote just about sums up why I decided to take this challenge, and will continue to take on other mad-cap adventures:
“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”
A big thank you to the lovely Shelli for putting up with me not being around much over the weekend, and thanks to everyone who supported me throughout the challenge and sponsored me along the way.
What would really make my day would be a few pounds added to my sponsorship page after all this effort. Go on, you know you want to!