THE MAN WHO RAN FOR A YEAR

Posted on: 7th April 2015

THE MAN WHO RAN FOR A YEAR

Late in 2013 I sat thinking to myself what am I going to achieve in 2014 as a fitness challenge. The previous 3 years I have gone from strength to strength completing different events and was thinking long and hard about what I could do. Then it hit me. “I am going to run every single day for a …
calendar year, 1st January 2014 to 31st December 2014”. Ok so I was decided but then I had to decide how, what, where and why it would be defined. The distance had to be worth it and achievable. It was decided at a minimum every day of 1.25 miles. This was easy as home at the time, in Earith, had a block which was a distance of 1.25 miles and the block at Mum and Dads, which has always been home and is once again Home, is also 1.25 miles. This helped if I had to do it last minute in any given day. Why was I doing it?

  • To prove it to myself I could.
  • To prove to others there is always a period in each day to fit in sometime for you or to work out.
  • Thirdly to run every day in one calendar year.

Knowing what I know now these might have been why, what and where but the story and journey has been 100 times more than this and the experience a true life lesson.

Day 1 started with the bare minimum of 1.25 miles and didn’t happen until 23:00 at night after a long family new years day. I grabbed my little coco on her lead and we completed day 1 together. On this first day I had a thought of quitting before I had even started. Day 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 followed with small runs until finally the first significant run of the year on day 13 of 6.24 miles in a time of 01:00:09. At the time I made a note on my record sheet of being pleased with this run, however little did I know at the time I would be smashing this later in the year.

Reaching day 46 of the year, 15th February, I had so far completed the yearly challenge with no real problem. I have no memory or notes on my record of having had felt like giving up other than on day one. Day 46 was my first real challenge of the year. Here I was on my first holiday of the year thinking, “why did I set this challenge?” “How the bloody hell am I going to keep this going while I am here?” I was in the ski resort Tinges in the French Alples. 3 beers down after a full day of travelling, 23:00 at night and I was yet to complete my daily run. We got back to the apartment I got changed, sucked it up and took a 1.25 mile run up the mountain. My heart nearly exploded out of my chest, the lack of oxygen was something I hadn’t experienced before. In my daily tweet that day I put “”still did it, who thought id quit”. The rest of my skiing holiday was lovely and wasn’t a problem completing my run with the following notes made at the time”:

“not the only one out running in the snow. What a pleasure that run was”

“went off road in the snow this evening. Running in the mountains is great!”

“a very hard day skiing of red and black runs, but still managed the main run!”

“buzzing after another day skiing”

“Tinge skiing great area to run”

“all on heavy snow – loved it ;-)”

“early morning run in the Alpes before journey home”

“1st run back home after week at altitude. Felt very different”

 

The first major event of the year

Day 68 saw the first big run of the year and first event of the year. The Cambridge Half Marathon. Honestly the training for this had been none existent with a couple of 6 mile runs in preparation since the start of the year. Honestly I was disappointed with this as over the previous 3 years January to March had been a major training phase with me completing a personal best the previous year at the same event. The training had been none existent but I was going to complete the race as I had promised my mate Nige I would run it with him as it was his first.   Well here was a major lesson, use it or lose it. There I was 9 half marathons and 3 stone of weight loss under my belt with a complete beginner and first timer in Nige who, to be totally honest got me round. Prior to the race Andy, great friend and training partner for the last few years, had pointed out to Nige how I wasn’t quite in the right place at the time.   How right Andy was, it perhaps wasn’t acknowledged at the time by anyone else other than him but he saw something no one else even saw coming, we will touch on this again on day 152.   The point is life does take over in everyone’s day to day, however you really shouldn’t let it bring you down or effect your true values or what you have achieved and worked so hard for. In my case how far I had fallen backwards, 2013 a time of 01:46:59 to a struggle in 2014 of 02:04:00 which was only achieved thanks to my mate Nige.

Day 69 through to day 102 saw the challenge continue at a minimalistic amount with the only real run of note coming on day 81 which was a 10 miler where Andy pushed me round at a decent pace making me realise how much I loved running. Day 102 saw the start of holiday 2, which was again skiing and again in Tinges in the French Alples. Un like before this posed no threat to the yearly challenge and I actually quite enjoyed it even more the second time round from a running perspective. I truly realised how lucky I was to be able to run in such a beautiful part of the world.   Below are some of my comments at the time:

“on ski holiday the altitude wow, heart out of chest”

“hill runs with Alexandra after a long day of skiing 3 sets up and down the hill outside the chalet, very tough”

 

Day 103 through to day 142 went fairly quickly with what I would still call a minimalistic approach of 1.25 miles being the most consistent distance recorded in this period. During this period one of the years greatest successes started. Day 113, 23rd April 2014 saw the start of the Histon and Impington Runners club (HI RUNNERS). This was a project which the friends of the rec group and I started in a voluntary partnership to provide a running club for the village.  In regards to this and 2014 I would like to thank every single individual member for you attendance, support and friendship since day 113. I may have provided sessions for the club but without your help, encouragement and togetherness, the club wouldn’t be possible and I certainly wouldn’t have improved in my running life. You all inspire me.

 

 

Day 143, 152 & 277 extremely interesting I would say!!! Its all linked to running, its all because of running, yet what I see in these 3 days stands out and has nothing to do with running. It’s about the why and the motivation to be better!!!

 

So that’s a statement, which has a lot of meaning. Keep reading lets see if I can get it all out. As the title of the whole article would suggest this year was about running, however the other things which came along side this journey are hugely significant and each daily run helped, in this year, define the significant life events.

2 people in particular stand out in relation to these days mentioned, and they both deserve enormous amounts of credit and thanks, they will be named at some point and mentioned a long the way with many others, but to you both I thank you for the impact you have had on me from day 143 onwards. Day 143 you were both present and actually helped start the cycle of change, which was required and desperately needed at this point. One of you literally with me and the other in the same place. The one with me completely put life into perspective and made me realise I wasn’t alone, while the one who was there sent my mind off based on the perspectives the other had gave. What I was thinking doesn’t matter to you all but please believe in yourself it’s amazing what can happened with a bit of self belief.  The reasons why we were there collectively weren’t known to any of the 3 of us at the time and most likely still remain that way and honestly isn’t my business or my story to tell, but the perspectives and thoughts you both gave me will stay with me. In that moment was one of life’s lessons, do we really know people? Do we really know what they think? And sometimes what you are thinking, although not literally, you should believe because anything really can happen. It is important to recognise those around you who support you and don’t worry about those who don’t because they wont be in your life in the future.   So day 143 I completed my run of 2.48 miles 00:23:42 403 cal, but because of, and thanks to running, I remember this crucial moment in my year and can today as I write this story count my blessings.  Just 9 days later this process kick started and the running massively back on track. Many argued at the time this was the first time since London 2013, I now 100% agree.

Day 152, what a day, what a moment, what an event and what a day for change.     So many people need thanking for this day. What’s the saying? “With every cloud” you know the rest. The day saw the second major event of the year. The first ever Flaming June half marathon hosted by Histon and Impington Friends of the rec. The sun was out, it was boiling hot, friends at the ready to run with and support each other through the process. Looking at how the challenge had gone for the year up to this point really I should have felt the way I did prior to Cambridge half marathon, but I was buzzing for it. Dawn, Belinda, Jo, Catherine, Rach, Jules, Nige, Norris (Chris), Rosie Andy Griffin, Andy Ison, and Cathy thank you for your support on the day.     For those of you who ran what a pleasure to be part of it with you. The run itself 13.1 miles in a time of 01:58:49. “Awesome, job done, sub 2 hours, ironman 70.3 in a couple of weeks” were my thoughts. Like I highlighted earlier, life events and daily runs mean something in 2014. It has been a journey and what followed has turned out as a positive step forward in my life, however at the time, brought my world crashing down like nothing before it. Thanks to Ali and Charlie for the afternoon which followed day 152’s run. Also thanks to all those mentioned on day 152 because life isn’t about running, it isn’t about exercise its about enjoyment and you all made what turned out a very hard day a better day and a better place.

At this point it is worth pointing out the challenge was to run at least 1.25 miles per day for a whole calendar year. This meant on days like day 69 and 153, days, which followed events like half marathons, the daily run still needed completing. As far as the whole year goes I think I just about managed to complete this although through gritted teeth on a couple of occasions later on in the year. Day 153 through to day 165 saw more cycling completed than running however the 1.25 was at least achieved each day.

Day 166 saw my A race for the year, well what should have been, but we will thank Andy and Cathy for it not being. Ironman 70.3. Ok so lets fast forward to the running, 1.2 miles of swimming done, 56 miles of cycling done, which was so hard by the way.   To the running phase of the race, 13.1 miles to go. “Come on man you have got this” “how many times you done this distance before?”     YEAH RIGHT. This was by far the hardest run of the year up to this point. Was it flat? NO!! Was it the hottest day of the year so far? YES!! I was struggling big time on the run phase and if I was being honest nowhere fit enough to compete in Ironman 70.3. Despite this I completed Ironman 70.3 in a time of 08:04:30 with the run taking 02:34:00. Daily run and life events of 2014, well at that point this was my proudest sporting achievement to date. I had worked through 10k, half marathon, marathon, and triathlon distance and now up to half Ironman distance. My Facebook status following the event:

 

“so feeling particularly proud this evening. My story started 4 years ago watching England’s opening game of the World Cup at the Isle of Wight festival. I couldn’t physically walk from the campsite without taking a rest and eating something really un healthy. I Was in a bad way and very over weight at 18 and half stone.

4 years on I had to miss England’s opening game to take part in Ironman70.3 this morning.     There have been many challenges along the way but today was by far the toughest I had signed up for.     Today was by far the hardest thing I have done in my life so far in regards to physical and emotional challenge. I am very proud to say I completed Ironman UK 70.3 in 8 hours and 10 minutes ish, official time tomorrow, and can’t believe the journey I have been on over the last 4 years. Anything is possible and the thing I have learnt the most is it is not about the destination, it’s the journey that matters. Wimbleball lake and Exmoor national park is an amazing place and what a great experience today was. I would suggest however you look else where for your first half ironman experience as it is clearly the toughest branded one there is.

Thank you to my dad for all his hard work and emotional support over the weekend, couldn’t do it without you.

So the future is promising and I guess the main question now is UK ironman distance in 2015????? ITS GOT TO BE THE LOGICAL STEP!!!”

So just to be clear day 166 was the toughest physical and emotional challenge I had ever done, but what I didn’t know then was about Day 263. Also to point out Andy, Cathy, Ash and I are already entered into UK IRONMAN on 19th July 2015. Just keep smiling.

Day 167 – Day 263: 96 days of running through blood, sweat and tears to try to achieve an ultra marathon in this year of running.

This phase of the year was by far the toughest, most enjoyable and most challenging in terms of running ever, with it culminating in the challenge of a 50 mile ultra marathon on Day 263. Between Day 167 and 263 the minimum of 1.25 miles was at least completed with some major running taking place around these smaller runs.

The first major training run in this phase came on Day 172, 15.14 miles with team Insane, Andy Cathy and Ash. They were also to be hopefully taking part in the ultra on day 263.     This was the first time above half marathon distance in as long as I could remember and I hurt the next day.     I soon realised I needed to make these longer runs a consistent thing if the ultra was going to be a reality. Thanks to events on Day 143 and 152 I had a new found attitude which as I write this is still present today. What I would say is surround you with positivity and positive people who enthuse you and support you. Simplify your life. Know what you want, go get it, know who or what makes you happy go get that. Do not over analyse, do not complicate it. It’s that simple. If you can do this I promise you from my year of running and beyond things will start to happen you never thought possible and you will be in a much happier place.

The second major run came a week later on Day 179. Same distance and It wasn’t any easier. The week after we decided to increase by one mile, which at the time honestly started to feel like a lot. A couple of weeks past where longer runs were hard to come by, with the next real run of note not coming until Day 207. This was a planned 20 mile run, which Andy and Cathy completed no problem.     At 15 miles in, which was the bottom of Hills road bridge, yes correct a long way from home still; I couldn’t go on any longer. My bum muscles and hamstrings in my right legs were all over the place. At this point the only option I had was to walk the remaining 5 miles. Thanks to Andy at this point for getting home ASAP and getting the truck to pick me up a mile and a half from home. What I would say I learnt at this point is it is important to recognise what you have achieved and not what was beyond me that day. It was a training run, not a race, I still did a 15 mile training run, and I could still get the sessions in time for the ultra.

On Day 213 I was so lucky to be travelling to Orlando, Florida, USA, to meet up with my 2 sisters, Mum and Dad for a family holiday. If you have been lucky enough to go, you will know what I am talking about, and if not get yourself there, because Disney World and everything Orlando has to offer is one of the most magical places in the world in my opinion. Who said Disney was just for kids? “Do you want to build a snow man!!!!” Well other than a frozen mad Disney world at the time, there was no chance of building a snowman or even feeling a bit of wind. The weather was so hot, as in sweating just standing still in shorts and t-shirt, but this yearly challenge was not stopping and had to continue. On the day I arrived, after travelling all day, I still had my run to complete. 17 years previous I had stayed, as a 10 year old, at the same resort. It was Saturday, Mum, Dad and sisters not arriving till Monday I was buzzing so went out and completed my run in the evening heat around this resort which I hadn’t seen for 17 years. This time I was in charge and could run where I wanted, but remember as a kid Dad telling me not to go to close to the lake because of Ali’s (alligators).     I’m sure it was just scare tactics for his 10 year old son at the time, but I still took his advice as I ran round part of this amazingly beautiful lake.

On the Sunday I completed a 7 mile run as I had a full day to kill before everyone arrived. I ran down the world famous International Drive, a road with tourist attractions on it and many interesting things to look at, as well as a drive thru of some description every 100 yards or so. No comment on those. This 7 mile run was one of the stand out runs of the whole year. Somewhere completely different, really hot conditions, great changing scenery and a freezing cold Swimming pool and sunbathing at the end of it. I was buzzing, loved it. It is important to point out it felt harder than London 2013, although that was probably the dehydration talking. For the rest of the Holiday the daily run was completed first things in the morning as not to distracted me from running round Disney all day like a massive kid, what a place, sorry said that already.     Following the holiday it wasn’t too long now until the ultra. The daily runs continued with many being between 6 and 10 miles in length with 3 significant runs of 20, 15 and 18 miles respectively coming in the last 2 weeks leading up to the ultra itself.

IT’S TIME

5.30 a.m. The alarm sounds. The light sneaks through the gap in the curtains. It’s almost time. I didn’t know then that this experience would fundamentally change me. I would need all of the knowledge I had gained so far and then some luck and fortitude if I was to get through this challenge.

My pack is ready. I had bought a specific bag with a bladder for water inside. I fill this first, only for it to puncture in the process. You can imagine where my head is. I have a 1.75L bottle of volvic sitting right in front of me and decide to see if it will fit where the bladder was. It fits like a glove and feels comfortable. Drama over. It’s all going to be fine. I remember my mantra. Worrying will never help you but looking for and executing a solution will.

I meet up with the rest of my team; Andy, Cathy, and Ash. We jump in the truck in the hotel car park. The journey is 20 minutes and we spend it worrying, over analysing, and second-guessing ourselves. Who will we be when today is over?

The reality overwhelms me.

Today I have promised to run 50 miles.

What was I thinking?

Part 2

I am stunned. No organisation has prepared me for the sight below.  The Ladybower reservoir. A truly beautiful place in the lower Peak District. The water glistens in the early morning sunshine. The temperature is at the perfect level for running.     Good omens abound. We park up, continue to over analyse and do our race preparation. The set up is small with a couple of small tents and gazebos at the start line, which is also the lap point. We go for that final little push in the toilet, get our trainers on and line up for race briefing. The organiser talks about how ‘later in the day’ things may change.     I honestly forget what we are doing and think ‘what is he talking about, later in the day? It’s a race.     We won’t be here later’. How wrong I am to be proved.

 

It is just before 8:00 a.m. The race organiser gives the count down for the start of the race. We all set off together, in good spirits.     Runners pass us, making jokes and introductions. The mood is buoyant, optimism high.

We had each agreed to run our own race and see each other out there. The first five miles of the race consist of a small loop round the bottom of the reservoir. This takes us back to the start line for the first of three 15 mile loops around the whole reservoir.

Ash decides he is going to get as much done as he could while he has full energy and opens up a gap, while Andy, Cathy and I casually nip into the toilet block after five miles to get rid of some of that pre race hydration.

I climb the 30-metre hill to take me back to the start line. The organisers take note of each runner’s race number as they pass, give encouragement and record the split time for the small five mile lap. Five miles down and I am feeling really positive. I take a nice easy pace knowing eventually Andy and Cathy will catch me. After all who wants to run a 50-mile race in isolation? Not sure Ash gets that memo however! At about the seven mile point Andy and Cathy catch me at the bottom of the reservoir as we cross the bridge.

Up to the nine mile point the race goes really fast. Our new adventure absorbs us. We are running on different roads, following trail paths and racing through woodland. It feels amazing. The atmosphere is celebratory and my shoes are singing.

Part 3

As we travel around the first big loop of the race, we experience all the different types of terrain and had size up all the hills which lay ahead on laps 2 and 3. At various points I say, ‘I can’t wait to be here next time or even on the third lap’. At this point I have no idea how I will actually feel.

I think we can’t be too far from getting back round to the start line.     Wrong! I take a look at the Garmin.     Fifteen miles are complete and the checkpoint will be at 20. We continue to enjoy the run at this point, being passed by front-runners in the 20 mile and 35 mile races, respectively. Everyone is so supportive. Whether you pass another runner or they pass you, everyone says hello and has a little chat before continuing on their personal journey.

[Speaking of age, Ash and I must have been the youngest runners at the event that day, they do say you get better at running with age and obviously experience increases and this was clear to see. Ash and I didn’t really have a clue compared to all the great experience we had around us that day. Let me be clear before you think I’m taking the piss, it was a pleasure to run with everyone that day and some of the advice and experiences I gained form other was priceless. I hope I can run as well as some of those I met that day when I’m their age. Hats off to you all. ]

We get around to the checkpoint, numbers are noted, flapjack is consumed.     At this point Andy and Cathy stop for a quick toilet break. I once again continue alone. They catch me at almost the same point as last time. At least we are consistent. We are well past the 20 mile point and approaching the half way stage when I have a chat with a lovely lady. I realise I have read her story of the race the year before. She is the wooden spoon holder from 2013.     She is back and doing it again.     She hasn’t given up. It is inspiring; she is in her late 50’s and has a real passion for running. We will see each other at various times throughout the rest of the race.

We reach the half way point. What is interesting is how I am feeling. I am feeling great! Putting that into perspective right, 18 months earlier while running the London Marathon I could hardly move forward and was mentally broken. Today it is different. I feel fresh, excited I am halfway through and happy to be continuing.

Just after this point I lose Andy and Cathy for a few miles while Cathy has a little stretch out of a niggle. During this point I think I must catch Ash up soon. In true team style we had all worn our Insane Terrain running tops. All four of us are directors and owners of the company and feel it is the best way to show we are a team. This is clear to other runners as well and it works well as the day goes on. We are given updates on our other team members. Two runners approached from behind and slowed their pace slightly to have a quick chat. They give me an update that Cathy is ok and is just stretching a hamstring quickly. They then explain how they saw Ash earlier and that he is behind. This surprises me as I thought I was still tracking him down. I must have passed him when he went for a toilet break at the end of the first big loops at the 20 mile stage. Ash was struggling and was going to push through to complete the 35 mile race. I remember you run for yourself and no one else in events like this and am extremely proud to know he has made it that far.

Part 4

27 miles in and struggling up a hill I hear two voices shout ‘Marshy!’ I turn. Andy and Cathy are back. We are at the furthest point we have ever been in terms of running. We stop to take on fuel. The three of us are feeling optimistic at this point.     Within minutes my mood swings to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. My head is in a very negative place. ‘I can’t make it.’ ‘I can’t go round again.’  It hits me how enormous this challenge really is. I don’t tell Andy and Cathy how I am feeling, which considering what happens two miles later is a good thing.

 

Two miles further along the road Andy and Cathy explain how much they are struggling. We discuss getting to the end of the loop, achieving 35 miles and stopping.     My head completely agrees with the conversation. However, I know that if I start the final lap, they will come with me. We all take a deep breath and say ‘we came to do 50, we are doing 50.’

Part 5

We finally reach the 35 mile checkpoint. This is it. We start the final loop. The crowds are growing at the banks of the reservoir, but not for us. It is for the impending flyover of two Lancaster bombers to commemorate their role in World War II.

The September sun is beaming down, it is hot, and we are trying to stay hydrated. We have just gone through the 36 mile marker when I see a hazard. I had noticed it on the three previous times I had ran today on this particular trail. In an effort to avoid this hazard I miss the massive stone just in front of it.     As my foot makes contact I know straight away I am going down. In slow motion I hit the deck. I feel heavy and disconnected. I hear Andy say something under his breath as he watches me fall, but cannot make out what it is. All seems silent. The next thing I remember is Andy picking me up off the ground. I have a couple of cuts and scrapes, but add the shock, fatigue of running 36 miles and the heat, and I am mentally undone.     I walk for a couple of minutes to get my thoughts together. Events come back into focus and sounds impinge on my consciousness again.  14 miles to go. I can do this. I want to do this. I need to do this. On we go.

We reach the bridge at the bottom of reservoir for the fourth time. It is the easiest road access point to the reservoir, which makes it packed with aeroplane enthusiasts at this point.     Cars are double parked in the middle of the road, motorbikes, police and bystanders are everywhere. What follows is humbling. As planned, the two old World War II icons start their first circle of the Ladybower reservoir. It is an amazing moment. The only sounds to be heard are the planes themselves. People watch in awe as the majestic veterans swoop languidly over the rippling water.

Up to now I had been on a journey, which today had culminated in this Ultra challenge. I think of my two grandfathers and their personal journeys, both of whom had close associations to the RAF and the Lancasters bombers. My emotions well up and I think of all of us who have battled to achieve something, either for themselves or their country. I raise my eyes to the sky and salute the bombers and my grandfathers. After my fall, this gives me strength and clarity of purpose and I turn my stride onwards.

Part 6

The pain is really starting to set in at this point. Every slight downhill turn, the grinding pain, which goes through every joint, gets worse and worse. We certainly hadn’t trained in this way to help us. Andy and Cathy start to pull away. There are five miles left. In my head I keep saying, ‘you can do this, it’s only 50-90 minutes left of running’. Runners are picking me off one at a time. But I am not alone. Everyone says hello and runs with me for a minute or two before pushing forward to the end. It is such a connecting moment to see how people really support each other when they need to.

At about 45 miles I pass my friends I had made earlier on in the day. With two miles to go the race director comes past on his bike to give the runners some much needed support. It is getting dark, it is all woodland for the last three miles, it is lonely and a little scary. There are a couple of sheep at about 1.5 miles to go so I shout at them and they look back, make a few noises and wander off. I have never been much of an animal fan and feel their presence is ominous. I turn a bend and see the dam that we crossed in the morning on the five mile loop. Now I know I am getting close. ‘Just down the hill into the valley followed by the 20-30 metre up hill to the finish, and you’ve got this Marshy.’ As I come to the bottom of hill the 50 something lady that won the wooden spoon last year offered to finish with me, but I make sure she has her well-deserved moment. It’s not about where you come, it’s how you run your race. However there are still runners behind me so I am pleased she has improved.

It is almost fully dark with one hill to go.   Ash is at the top screaming at me. Andy and Cathy gather as much energy as they can possibly find to scream at me from the truck. I find that strong finish we all seem to have and sprint up the hill. I cross the finished line and the emotion, which rockets through me, is something I have never experienced before and haven’t got close too since. It is overwhelming. I have done it. ULTRA MARATHON. 11 hours 50 minutes and 10 seconds. What a day.

I got in the truck and we can’t believe it. We are ultra marathon runners. Straight away we discuss how we would never be doing it again. We shall see what 2015 brings. Fancy it?     I remember Andy saying ‘I can’t describe how it feels in terms of pain Marshy, can you?’ That comment still stands to this day. We can’t tell you how it feels, it just feels!!!!

My Facebook status following the event:

Can happily now say I have completed an ultra marathon. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done and the emotions I went through during the run were a once in a life time. I think back to a Monday evening in September 2010, I was in a bad way, over weight etc, we all know that story. Ashley Edwards and Claudia Perkins had to stand next to the treadmill and make me run 4 miles, I was in so much pain. 4 years on and yesterday I completed an ultra marathon. People need to realise we do what we do in life for our own reasons, but I have to say the personal journey I have been on in order to complete yesterday is one I will never forget. If you are knocked down and defeated you get up and try. If you are at the lowest point you tell yourself the only way is up. Anything really is possible you just need to believe. How did I finish? I was in the final 15 mile loop of ladybower reservoir and 2 Lancaster bombers did a fly over as a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Dams raid. This made me think of my 2 granddads who were both interested in war planes and had a big association with the RAF. Seeing this really gave me the strength to find something else and complete my fitness challenge. On the anniversary of you both passing 5 years ago this run was for you both. Finally a massive well done and thank you to my fellow runners Andy Ison Cathy Betterman Ison and ashley edwards on also completing the race. The hardest thing we have ever done and it was a pleasure completing it with you.

 

The last quarter: People want to know what motivates me to keep going and who motivates the motivator.

Following the Ultra the next day to keep this consecutive running challenge going was unbelievably hard. I waited as long as possible and ended up going for my run at 20:00 on the Monday following the event on the Sunday. Of course I just completed 1.25 miles on this occasion.

Moving into the last quarter, friends, family and clients could all seem to understand this challenge was important to me and could start to feel the finish line on the horizon. I could definitely feel this. Support for the challenge started to grow which I still appreciate every day. Then the questions started to come, how have you managed to do this? How have you kept going? What motivates you? Who motivates you? Let me try to explain…………..

Firstly if I knew the generic answer to these questions as a personal trainer and could package it then I would be a millionaire. I think the answer is one size doesn’t fit all; each individual is motivated in different and unique ways both by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. How am I motivated? What keeps me motivated? How did I stay motivated and discipline for this challenge? I know I just wanted to prove what I said at the beginning and didn’t want to fail in what I said I was going to do, but let me help myself and you understand how my head works a little.

Day 277 I completed my run and to be honest only completed 1.25 miles having a nice easy Saturday. Then things happen in your life, which have nothing to do with running but can be used as energy and to help you understand yourself. These things can be so simple sometimes, don’t search to hard. The truth is the events of this day, which again sticks out and can be defined thanks to my running diary didn’t just motivate me to finish or give me energy; it has completely helped in my thinking. Sometimes just one moment is all it takes. I had one in 2010, and I had one on Day 277. Again without naming any names specifically I was in a situation, which I gave a real opinionated version of my thoughts and the processes in my head. Trust me, not really my place to explain, and also what I said was extremely risky at the time and certainly controversial. However saying it and passing comment is by far the best thing I did in 2014. The context of what was said? Not important. The subject? Not important. Who was involved in this conversation with me? Not important.     The principle of what I did? EVERYTHING!

 

I spoke up. I said what I thought and what I wanted. I went for it. I believed in myself in that moment. The outcome positive? Absolutely. Because of this and those involved it has really helped me sort some things out, focus my mind on what is important in life, and as a consequence pushed me forward with my training and certainly helped motivate me. I have never been better and I thank those involved for your support, motivation and friendship. Little did I know on day 277 that on day 339 as a result of what had been learnt from this process I would end up better off once again. This time it was personal. Yes I am talking about speaking up and believing in how you feel. And yes I am talking about my now beautiful girlfriend Stacey. It was day 277 and the guidance of this friend, which gave me confidence to go for what I wanted. I have a lot to thank this person for. I think you know who you are. My point here is running and becoming fitter has given me the confidence to go for what I believe in and that continually motivates me today.     Today as I write this I have all the support I could ever ask for from Stacey and all those that never lost faith in the darkest moments of 2014. SO what motivates me? The want for better for Stacey and I. The want for my clients and friends to be the best version of them they can be. Thirdly to pay forward everything I have learnt to help someone else. Life is too short to not have or be what you want.

A second day in the last quarter, which I want to highlight, is Day 307.     This day was all about running and how running can bring people together. It was the local bonfire burn race arranged by Histon and Impington friends of The Rec. I was running the race for my daily run, however ended up doing a personal best time for 10k. The event was the first event that Histon and Impington Runners had been to as a club. It was a proud moment to see all the runners from the club wearing club colours and taking part. There was a real togetherness, club atmosphere, and sense of friendship.     Everyone completed their 10k race and it was just great to see how running had brought people who previously didn’t know each other together in a supportive way. I will thank all the HI RUNNERS and dedicate my time to all of you. I may be the coach and arrange training sessions, however without the HI RUNNERS to train with, my personal best on Day 307 would never have been possible. Thank you all, you motivate me.

 

The final Push: A chat with a friend and a revamped challenge to finish the year of running.

21 days before the end on Day 345 I had a good run considering I was feeling rough and had a chesty cough. Jo, Rach and I ran 3.12 miles at a nice relaxed pace. I then went about my day finishing with bootcamp as usual in Willingham. I then went to meet Lewis for a drink and a brief discussion about a little project.     The project was linked to the blog and the year of running which lead to rules being established for the final days of running for 2014. Lewis asked me what the current total mileage was with my response being 1076ish. He responded and said well you have to go to 1200 now. That was it he had set a new challenge. 20 days of running left and he had just set me a goal of running 124 miles in that period. I was motivated, ready to have a final push.

During the last 21 days I did think why am I pushing it, but then it hit me.     It’s all about levels.     Absolutely fair play to anyone who sets a goal, and yes one off goals do exists and I certainly would never knock one. However, think about this when you move forward with life, future, and achievement, success, whatever you want to call it? It’s all about levels.     Reach a level, achieve something, never financial for me, and then reassess and work to the next level and so on. In my year of running Lewis helped facilitate this natural next step. I had almost achieved a great personal goal, however he was basically posing the questions, why not be better? Absolutely, why not be better? So I decided to literally chase this goal down.     In those final days I had to do some big runs to get the miles in, there were indeed some important runs.     Day 350 saw me complete a late afternoon early evening run around Cambridge. Day 355 Nige and I completed the long run up to St Ives and back for a 20 miler. On Boxing Day, Day 360, Andy, Cathy and I went out for our regular run and completed 11.33 miles and on Day 364 I went and completed a 9 miler through Cambridge once again to almost reach the 1200 miles. On Day 362 I took part in the final race of the year, “the water side 5”. I met with some of the HI RUNNERS smashing my previous time by 7 minutes.     This race was significant to me in the year of running because officially the race in 2013 was held on 31st December which means officially I ran from that moment consecutively until and inclusive of 31st December 2014.

 

The Final Day: “it’s a right gorgeous frosty one out there”  

New Years Eve 2014, I woke, the last run was starting at 10:00. I had invited anyone who fancied it to come and join me. Nick, Rach and Jo took me up on my offer, along with a couple of cute helpers with Jo, thanks girls loved having you there.   It was nice to have Nick with me as early in the year he completed a lot of runs with me. Having Rach and Jo was also special as they also like Nick had been on many runs throughout the year. Obviously the list who I would have wanted there would be fairly long but as Jo put it “it’s a right gorgeous frosty one out there” and it was New Years Eve to be fair so people were busy.

It was an amazing sunny winters day outside and the run started at Home, up New Road, down the guided toward St Ives, back through Histon Village, up Impington Lane, back home. Completing a nice little 3.03 mile run. It felt amazing all the way round and I knew I had completed something personal to me which I will proudly put next to any other sporting challenge I have participated in.

 

A quick review of my year: It’s been more than I ever thought it would be.     It’s been a way of life

Three hundred and sixty four days ago me and a little cute Labrador went for a run, every day since then, including New Years Eve I have ran. I set out with 3 goals:

  1. To do it for me
  2. Show others there is time in every day for you
  3. To run in every day of 1 calendar year.

 

The truth is it turned out to be way more than that!! Honestly put your mind to it, believe and you can do what ever you want. Make your mind up, go for it, don’t listen to people who say you can’t. What a journey, what a year. Thank you to everyone who has supported me right through it, it won’t be forgotten. So what next? Ironman? For sure. What else? To keep achieving and keep moving forward. Am I done with running? No. I love running and I will continue to run until I physically can’t, it’s a part of my life now and has been for a while. Running this year has set me free, it has given me somewhere to go when I need a moment to myself, it has help me define important moments in my life which have helped me move forward and grow. Is running good for you? In my opinion yes, but not just physically, but for your mental health also. Running I will be forever grateful for the opportunities you have given me and for the sense of fulfilment and adventure. I will see you again very soon old friend………….

Thank you to:

  • Stacey Webster for coming into my life during this year and giving me the belief to go forward to the next level – you are an amazing woman.
  • Histon Bootcampers
  • Willingham Bootcampers
  • Cottenham Bootcampers
  • HI RUNNERS
  • All personal training clients for being on the adventure with me
  • The runners (Thursdays)
  • Insane Terrain Running Ltd
  • Andy, Cathy, Ash, Nige, Rach. Jules. Jo M, Nick, Karen, Sarah T, Rosie for doing a fair chunk of the running with me.
  • Mum, Dad, Michelle and Faye
  • Belinda Knott, Dawn Mills and Vitality Becky (Becky Edgar) for liking nearly every daily update on social media
  • And to all friends who took an interest in what I was doing and supported me through it.

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