The Push to 300

Of the three resolutions I made for 2012 I would have thought that running 300km was the one I was most likely to fall short of. I had also aimed for 100 complete chess games and 100 hours of zazen this year, and though I don’t have exact numbers I’m confident that I’ve fallen woefully short of both of those marks. (There’s always next year.)

Writing this on 1 December I’ve currently racked up 257km; that leaves four weeks and two days to put in the final 43km. At one point, in early summer, it looked like it was going to be easy. The ‘couch to 5k’ regime we were following had got us up to nearly 3km per run fairly quickly, and we were going out three times per week. By June we were comfortably running 5km each outing, sometimes more. Upwards of 50km went on the board for April, then May, then June… it looked like 300km by the end of the year was going to be no problem.

In early July we went away to the British Grand Prix, which (combined with some horrendous weather) wiped out a week of running. That led straight into a few days in Herefordshire for my sister’s wedding, and again I didn’t take my running gear. Looking back now, when I went out on 17 July, having not run in a fortnight, I pushed too hard. My body wasn’t ready for what I was asking of it after two weeks of not making the effort, and something went in my left knee. I tried to go out again the next week, but only managed a little over 2km each time before I had to turn around and limp home.

It was a difficult thing to deal with. Though I wouldn’t have believed it when we first started I had grown to really enjoy running. To suddenly find myself incapable of it was hard to accept. I found some exercises to strengthen the knee, tried swimming, and waited. I went out once in August, and twice in September, wearing a strap and conscious of the tightness building behind my patella. Though I tried to remain patient and be accepting of my injury I think to some extent I gave up a little. Running changed from being something I enjoyed into something that hurt, that I wasn’t very capable at. Then circumstances changed in my work life and I wasn’t home in the evenings, which was when we’d commonly run. Between one thing and another I didn’t lace my running shoes back up until late October, but the 3km circuit we did was a revelation: no pain, relatively small drop-off in stamina, and really enjoyable. It suddenly felt like this was something I was going to be able to make part of my life again.

Working out what was left to do if I was to meet my 300km goal, and the time left to do it in left me cautiously optimistic. It wasn’t going to be easy but if I could get back to something like my pace and stamina of summer then it looked achievable.

Thirty-one days; forty-three kilometres; an average temperature somewhere in the single digits… wish me luck.