The Journey


It doesn’t seem that long ago since I was publishing a daily blog about my challenge to run 10K every day during June.  That was an amazing experience and it was topped by a couple of brilliant races I had during July.

That was when I was struck down by a flu like virus which took me out of action for pretty much a whole month.  Even now I feel some residual effects and some of the things I could do with ease just a few months ago now feel like a real struggle.  I haven’t really added much to my blog since I fell ill but yesterday I thought that I ought to write.  The journey back to health and fitness is a real story and is definitely something that ought to be written about.   When you, as a runner, are inured or ill it can be very discouraging and you can be downhearted.  However, for me, I have been here before and know I can come back and be even better than I was before.  It’s not going to be easy but in this game, no one ever said it would.

So, in the last month or so my best 10K time is around 10 minutes off where I would like it to be.  In a few races I did a personal worst time and as I said, quite a few things I take for granted are a struggle.   In 7 days time I am competing in a race called the Leeds Country Way Relay as captain of my team.   This requires me to run, with a partner, a gruelling 11.5 mile trail route though the hilly countryside north of Leeds and it’s tough even if you are fit.  We did a practice run last week and my partner (some years my senior) and my wife Helen (who I can usually beat over any distance) had to wait for me to catch up on many occasions.  Will I be much better next week?  Time will tell.

On the plus side, I went out running with Helen today and we ran a lovely route through the countryside by a lake, even though it was about 26 degrees Celsius (feeling more like 30).   Although this was tough it was fun and that, after all, it what it’s all about.

My plan therefore is to blog about my journey back to full fitness.  Hopefully it will be interesting and by the end of it I will be recounting some much better performances and results.

“The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”

Psalm 121:7-8

parkrun and perseverance


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.”

James 1:2-4

Going viral

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