This was a dumb challenge. You could say arrogant, but I wasn’t trying to be, I was just trying to put mind over matter and it didn’t end well. I got it in my head that everything we do is limited by our mind’s capacity to deal with stress and the feeling of giving up. At the time, I literally had no idea where I got this from, but I did. So I wanted to test it. (You’ll see where I got the idea from in a future blog)
Yes, that’s right. I wanted to run 7 half marathons in 7 days, having only ever run a distance of 5km. Firstly, I want to apologise to my brother Joe and all the people who ran the Yeovil half marathon with him a few days before I set myself this challenge. This is what gave me the idea in the first place; on the Sunday I saw that they had all done one and I just thought, “Great, that seems like a tough challenge, how can I ramp it up?” I realised afterwards that it was probably a bit insensitive to set myself this challenge two days after and it probably seemed like I wanted to do one better than them. I promise I wasn’t, I just didn’t think, so sorry for being a muppet!
That being said, I still went for it. As mentioned in this blog from a previous challenge, I meet with 6 lads every Tuesday morning in Clifton Village at 6.30am. It’s literally one of my favourite things to do in the week so I wasn’t going to miss it. The trouble is, that particular Tuesday was going to be a real busy one for me. I had 4 lessons from 10 – 2, then I was heading into Helen’s school to take part in careers day (lol) for the kids. So I didn’t really have time that day to do a half marathon. Therefore, I did what all normal people would do in this situation… I woke up at 4 am to fit it all in.
You know what, I absolutely loved it. I made sure that I smashed some food (although I probably should have eaten that much earlier than 20 mins before the run). Then I just went for it. I thought music would bore me so I chucked on a great podcast by a man named Pete Rollins and off I went. In my head, running forward for 10.55 km, then turning around and coming back again seemed like the most logical thing. I ran from my place in the centre to the Portway in Bristol, under the suspension bridge and out towards Avonmouth. Boy it was quiet to begin with but it was exhilarating. It actually got really cold at around 5.30 as the sun was about to rise and I thought I was gonna have to stop at one point but I fought on, chucking my water bottle down the back of my shirt so I didn’t have to hold it any more, listening hard to the podcast to just forget about how long I was gonna have to go for and how tired I was after the adrenaline had gone away.
Yeah, the time isn’t impressive but I knew I had 6 more to do so didn’t want to beat myself up too bad. I finished up in Clifton Village at about 6.25am and sat down with the boys to say, “Lads, you’ll never guess what, I just ran a half marathon.” That felt good to say out loud.
Then, the naivety set in. Did I cool down? No. Did I eat enough food? No. Did I stretch? No. Did I finish with the lads and run a further 3km home to carry on with my day? Yes…
What a muppet. To be fair, the hit of endorphins I got was like no other so that was cool and the rest of the day went pretty well too without too much trouble. The trouble hit the next day.
Waking up at 6am…sucked. I hurt all over. Because I hadn’t eaten enough, my body had sucked up every last nutrient from the food I had taken in… I don’t need to tell long distance runners what those poos were like. I was a bit of a mess to be honest. But, mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter…I was determined to persevere. I somehow managed to invite my amazing little brother Sol along on my second half marathon, so we met outside the shop and got on our way.
This one was not fun. It started out ok but the novelty had worn off after 2km and I already hurt. Not even Sol’s cheery face couldn’t lighten my mood. But I kept telling myself mind over matter. The podcast wasn’t distracting me this time. It was a bit miserable. But, mind over matter… This is all well and good until you actually do some real damage. At that point labeled on the map above with the arrow, about half way through and the furthest point away from home… I put a tear in my Soleus.
Yeah, it sucked but in my head I just thought, mind over matter. This was really dumb. I already hurt from the first half marathon, but this really hurt. I wasn’t going to stop though, I was going to carry on until the end. This meant that my running style completely changed to minimise the calf pain. Basically, I finished the run, but I was not in a good way. I ended up getting it looked at and was strongly advised to stop.
So, this story has a moral. Ignorance and arrogance are not a good combo. Great things can be achieved through perseverance and you can overcome your weaknesses through strength of mind, but preparing for them and understanding them is necessary. Will I try it again? Probably not, but I’m all healed up now. It was a great experience and I learned more from it than I thought I would.