Today I ran my 300th parkrun and by coincidence, it was my first day back running after a torrid three weeks of fighting off a nasty virus.
People have been really nice to me today and saying what a wonderful achievement 300 parkruns is (and who am I to argue). I remember the early days of parkrun where there was only one event outside London, in Leeds. Back then, the ultimate prize was to achieve the 100 run milestone and receive a black t-shirt and jacket (sadly no . Little did I think that one day I would be achieving the 250 milestone and even reaching 300! The thing is though, all I have done is be in the right place at the right time when it all started and simply kept going.
I think perseverance is probably one of the most, or even the most, challenging aspect of running. Many people do it for a bit and give up, or stop when it’s winter time or when they have been ill or injured. Running however is a sport that needs to be treated with respect and doesn’t react well to the hot and cold treatment.
For me, I could lament the fact that my fitness has gone back some months and I have now to train a lot to get back to where I was in June, where I managed to run 10K every day and afterwards where I was achieving stand-out times in races. I’m not going to moan though because the greatest thing is the journey. What I mean is the fun is the training, gradually getting better and fitter and building up to new goals and achievements. Where that leads is for me, the motivating factor. Keeping in tip-top shape is great and presents it’s own challenges but you can’t always do that so building yourself up again is actually a great place to be and I revel in it.
One of my favourite Bible passages is from James and I have probably quoted it before but today it has particular relevance.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
They say that there are two things in life that are unavoidable: death and taxes (a very old expression that can be traced back to a writer called Christopher Bullock in 1716). However, I would add another to make it three, viruses. The virus is a nasty piece of work and those common ones at large in our world range from the common cold, to full-on flue and all sorts of variations in between. I am of the belief that a good standard of fitness helps your resistance to many of these but I find that once in a while, I still succumb. As a runner I find it harder to cope because I not only feel rubbish, but I can’t participate in the sport I love and see everyone else having fun without me. It’s really frustrating because I am usually a person “full of beans” and for example, will quite happily go out to run 10K before breakfast. To suddenly find myself in a position that even remaining standing for a few minutes is a struggle and simply wanting to lie down for a bit is immensely frustrating.
It’s three weeks now since I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and thought that maybe I would be struggling with a cold for a few days. I wouldn’t describe what I have as flu because I’ve had that and it’s a different matter entirely. However, I have had a general lack of energy and an annoying cough (which I saw the Doctor about to check it wasn’t an infection). Although I am on the road to recovery, what is annoying is that to finally shake off all the symptoms and be energetic enough to go out for a run, is going to take a little longer than I thought and I need to be patient.
I think that with an active lifestyle, anything that brings you down is more impactful because you miss what you ought to be able to do. For me, July as a running month is a complete write-off and I realise it may take some time to get back to full fitness. My goal to do at least 100 miles every month during 2019 won’t be achieved. However. I am not going to be too downhearted because I am very thankful for all that I have, my fitness and abilities, with the knowledge that this thing will soon pass. You can’t go through life completely avoiding these things and so you have to take it on the chin every so often. I am so glad that this didn’t happen to me during my 10K-a-day challenge in June, because that really would have been annoying.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22 NIVUK
The good old-fashioned training wisdom is that you need to include rest days in your programme. So, when I embarked upon the crazy scheme to run 10K every day during the month of June, the question I needed to answer was this: “Would the lack of rest days have a negative impact on my fitness, or would all this exercise make me better and faster?”
To test this to the full I had two races last week; the 5K Canal Run on Tuesday (just two days after the end of my challenge) and a 10K on Friday (the St Aidans 10K). I wasn’t holding out much hope for the 5K but after a few days rest, the 10k might be interesting.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how well I performed in both races. In the Canal Run I was amazed to finish a smidge under 23 minutes, a goal that had escaped me last year! The last time I had done better than that was back in 2011! As for the beautiful St Aidan’s 10K my best time on that had been 51 minutes which I set last year. This year I set a goal to get under 50 minutes and managed 49:07, almost 2 minutes faster than last year.
Is this just a load of self indulgent bragging? Could be, but there’s an important lesson here. For me at least, loads of mileage does lead to faster times so while I AM going to have rest days going forward (it’s pretty grim having to do running every day), I’ll keep the mileage up and see where it leads.
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.”
Proverbs 27:1 NIV